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After an election, the longest-serving Knesset member usually officiates over plenum sessions until a permanent speaker is appointed. Amir Peretz (Zionist Union) is the most veteran lawmaker in the 20th Knesset, but Likud rushed to announce that Peretz’s tenure will be very short: In the opening session, shortly after Peretz opens the floor, a vote will be held in which Edelstein’s appointment, apparently, will be ratified.
Peretz met with Edelstein on Sunday. He also called on other factions to present candidates for the position and announced tomorrow’s vote.
Sources in Zionist Union criticized Likud’s fast-tracking of Edelstein’s appointment, which they said was intended to prevent Peretz from officiating over the official Independence Day ceremony at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, a role fulfilled annually by the Knesset speaker.
Edelstein’s bureau refuted these claims, saying the permanent Knesset speaker is usually selected during the new parliament’s opening session, before the government is sworn in.
The current president, Reuven Rivlin, was appointed permanent Knesset speaker in the 16th Knesset’s third session – before the government was formed – while in other parliaments the appointment was delayed by coalition-building considerations.
Sources close to Edelstein estimated that up to 100 MKs will support his candidature in the vote. One Likud source said – it was not clear whether seriously – that “also in the Labor Party there are those who would be happy to deny Amir Peretz this prestigious appointment,” because, he claimed, of continued anger “at his bolting the party to Hatnuah in the previous term, and the estimation that he will threaten Herzog’s leadership in internal Labor Party elections.”