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Likud Nominates Orthodox Scholar to Be Next President

March 11, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Likud-led coalition today nominated Supreme Court Justice Menachem Elon, an Orthodox scholar and past winner of the Israel Prize for his books on Jewish law, to be Israel’s next President. The nomination was submitted to the Knesset with the required list of 10 MK sponsors, headed by Premier Menachem Begin.

Elon,60, is supported by all of the coalition factions. According to Herut Knesset Whip Ronnie Milo, he is almost certain to be elected to succeed retiring President Yitzhak Navon when the Knesset votes on March 22. But inasmuch as the election is conducted by secret ballot, an upset is always possible, political observers noted.

The opposition Labor Alignment is expected to nominate Chaim Herzog, former Ambassador to the United Nations and a one-time chief of military intelligence.

Elon apparently was Begin’s second choice for the Presidency. Until last week he personally supported Interior Minister Yosef Burg, a veteran leader of the National Religious Party. But Burg announced Monday that he would not run because he wanted a broader consensus than the Knesset was likely to give him.

Elon’s selection today surprised political circles inasmuch as the media was predicting that the nomination would go to Jerusalem attorney Shlomo Tussia-Cohen who, like Navon, is Sephardic and was reportedly backed by Begin. But the ultra-nationalist Tehiya party balked at Tussia-Cohen. He is, moreover, committed to the Jerusalem branch of Herut to run against Laborite Mayor Teddy Kollek in the Jerusalem municipal elections.

Elon is a graduate of the Hebron Yeshiva in Jerusalem and the Hebrew University. He was a professor of Jewish law at the Hebrew University until his appointment to the Supreme Court in the mid-1970s. He is an Ashkenazic Jew.

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