Knesset to hold presidential election June 10

TEL AVIV (JTA) — The Knesset will vote for Israel’s next president on June 10.

The winner will succeed Shimon Peres, whose seven-year term ends July 27. Israel’s president, a largely ceremonial post, serves as the nation’s official head of state. Israeli citizens do not cast ballots for president.

Reports emerged that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted to abolish the presidency, limit its powers or postpone the election. Israeli media have reported that Netanyahu opposes the candidacy of Reuven Rivlin, a fellow member of the Likud party who has feuded with Netanyahu in the past.

Candidates must obtain signatures of at least 10 Knesset members by May 27 to run. Along with Rivlin, senior Labor Knesset member Binyamin Ben-Eliezer has obtained the necessary signatures.

Several other public figures have declared their intention to run. They include Silvan Shalom, a Likud Knesset member; Dalia Itzik, a former Kadima lawmaker; Dalia Dorner, an ex-Supreme Court judge; Dan Shechtman, a Nobel Prize laureate; and Yosef Abramowitz, a solar energy entrepreneur.

Before serving as president, Peres, 90, twice served as Israel’s prime minister. His predecessor, Moshe Katsav, resigned the office to face trial for sexual assault and rape, and is now serving a prison term.

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