BICOM Briefing – The 2014 Israeli Presidential Election


Last update: 28 May 2014.

On Wednesday 28 May 2014, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein finalised the list of presidential candidates for the election which will take place on 10 June 2014. The new president will take over from Shimon Peres who is stepping down at the end of July.


  • The presidency in Israel is a largely ceremonial and constitutional role; the president is not meant to play an active part in everyday Israeli political affairs.
  • The Israeli president holds the constitutional duties of a head of state, including signing legislation into law, pardoning prisoners and nominating a politician to form the government.
  • The president serves a seven year term and is limited to one term.


  • The president is elected by the 120 members of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament). Any Israeli citizen is eligible to run.
  • In order to run, candidates must be endorsed by at least 10 Members of Knesset (MKs).
  • To be elected, the presidential candidate must receive the votes of a majority of the members of the Knesset (61 votes out of 120 MKs). If there is no majority in the first ballot, the candidate with the smallest amount of votes is eliminated and the vote is repeated.


Reuven (Rubi) Rivlin

  • Rivlin is currently considered to be the frontrunner. A veteran Likud MK, he was first elected to the Knesset in 1988. He was Minister of Communications in 2001-2003 and served as Speaker of the Knesset from 2003-2006 and 2009-2013.
  • He stood against Shimon Peres in the 2007 presidential elections.
  • Considered an independent minded MK, Rivlin’s relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to have deteriorated significantly, with Netanyahu vehemently opposing his candidacy.
  • Rivlin is considered a staunch defender of Israeli democracy. Although he personally opposes the two state solution, he has said he would not intervene in the decisions of Israel’s elected politicians.

Binyamin (Fouad) Ben-Eliezer

  • Ben-Eliezer appears to be the leading opposition candidate. Considered one of Labour’s grandees, he was first elected to the Knesset in 1984 after retiring from the IDF with the rank of major general.
  • He was briefly leader of the Labour Party (2001-2002) and has also served as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Minister for Industry, Trade and Labour.
  • Born is Basra, Iraq, Ben-Eliezer has pledged to “open Israel up to its neighbours”. Whilst in government he often spoke to regional media in fluent Arabic.
  • He had a strong friendship with Egypt’s former ruler Hosni Mubarak and says he is on good terms with Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, despite Israel and Turkey’s soured relationship.
  • Though considered hawkish on security issues, he is an advocate of the two-state solution.

Meir Sheetrit

  • Elected as a Likud MK in 1981, Sheetrit has held numerous offices, including Minister of Finance, Minister of Justice and Minister of Transportation.
  • Sheetrit was one  of a number of Likud members who defected with Ariel Sharon to form the centrist Kadima in 2005, and in 2012 he worked with Tzipi Livni to set up Hatnua.

Daniel Shechtman

  • Shechtman is a Professor at the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) and in 2011 was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry.
  • If elected he will be the first ‘non-politician’ president since Ephraim Katzir in 1973.
  • A public opinion poll in Israel Hayom ranked Shechtman second in popularity, behind Rivlin.

Dalia Dorner

  • Another ‘non-politician’ candidate, Dorner was a Supreme Court justice between the years 1993-2004.
  • Dorner is considered a defender of human rights and gender equality. One of her rulings saw the opening up of the IDF’s pilot training course to women.
  • Dorner is currently head of the Israeli Press Council.

Dalia Itzik

  • Itzik was first elected with the Labour Party in 1992, joining Kadima in 2005.
  • She was Speaker of the Knesset from 2006 to 2009 and assumed presidential duties for six months, following the suspension and resignation of Moshe Katzav in 2007.
  • She has held several ministerial portfolios, including environment, communications and trade.

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