Israel parliament to choose new president on June 10
Published Monday 19/05/2014 (updated) 20/05/2014 16:15
Israel's President Shimon Peres speaks during a press conference
in Oslo, on 13 May, 2014. Peres was elected to the presidency
after a vote by the Knesset in July 2007
(Scanpix/AFP/File Larsen, Hakon Mosvold)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli lawmakers will elect a successor to outgoing President Shimon Peres on June 10, parliamentary speaker Yuli Edelstein told reporters on Monday.
Edelstein's announcement marks the official start of the race for the position, which has been held by Peres since 2007.
Candidates must receive the backing of at least 10 other members of the Knesset, and formally present their requests in writing to the speaker on May 27, Edelstein said.
In Israel, the post of president is largely ceremonial and executive power rests with the prime minister.
Peres will step down at the end of July, just before his 91st birthday, following a political career spanning nearly seven decades.
Edelstein's announcement comes after months of vigorous unofficial lobbying by would-be candidates, among them Energy Minister Silvan Shalom who in March was questioned by police over allegations of sexual assault dating back 15 years.
Earlier this month, the attorney general called off the inquiry, citing the statute of limitations.
Shalom, a member of the ruling right-wing Likud party, has yet to announce whether he will still run for the post.
Another presidential hopeful is veteran Labor parliamentarian Benjamin Ben Eliezer, who has held several ministerial portfolios and has already accrued the required support from fellow MPs.
Following months of infighting and mudslinging over the prospective candidates, Edelstein called for a clean campaign -- "one which respects the presidency, respects the Knesset, and that will enable all of us after the election to respect the man or woman chosen."
Former president Moshe Katsav began a seven-year jail sentence in December 2011 after being convicted on two counts of rape and other sexual offences.