Rivlin listens as Netanyahu addresses Knesset Dec. 30, 2012.
Benjamin Netanyahu and Reuven Rivlin, right, in 2012. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi
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Presidential candidates
Presidential candidates

Israel's presidential election, voted on in the Knesset, will take place on June 10, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein announced on Monday.

Edelstein's announcement officially kicked off the race and now candidates can file the form necessary to be put on the ballot. Edelstein said that the candidates will have to gather at least 10 signatures from MKs within eight days -- until May 27 - in order to qualify.

Earlier Monday, MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) sent a letter to his fellow legislators in which he urged them to support him in his bid for the presidency. "I won your trust as the speaker of the Knesset… now I ask for your trust as president so I can turn the President's Residence into a place of cooperation, agreement, and understanding," Rivlin wrote.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, is considering giving his “tacit support” to the presidential bid of Energy and Water Resources Minister Silvan Shalom. Senior Likud figures said the goal was to capture the votes of Yisrael Beiteinu’s 11 Knesset members, who have said they would support Netanyahu’s choice for the post.

Such a move would not assure Shalom of the votes of MKs in Netanyahu’s Likud party. But, as a senior Likud figure noted, Shalom is himself from the party and he could “recruit votes in Likud by himself.” Where he needs Netanyahu’s help, the official said, is with the legislators from Yisrael Beiteinu, which ran on a joint ticket with Likud in the last Knesset election.

The sources said Netanyahu also hoped that by not giving full-throated support to Shalom he could avoid the criticism he would likely spark if he supported Shalom publicly, given the recent sexual misconduct allegations against Shalom. The investigation did not result in an indictment, after complainants refused to file formal complaints.

Shalom is not yet an official candidate. The only two candidates who are thought to already have the necessary signatures are Reuven Rivlin (Likud) and another veteran MK, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor). Both are considered strong candidates.