Former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner announced Thursday that she intends to run for president, making her the second non-politician to seek to succeed Shimon Peres when his term ends this summer. If she were to win, she would be Israel’s first female president, but her candidacy is thought to have little chance of success.
Tourism Minister Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beytenu) was also reported Thursday to be considering a presidential bid.
Dorner, who currently heads the Israel Press Council, said her candidacy would, at the very least, enable other women to challenge for the position of president in the future. “I decided it was time for Israel to have a female president,” Dorner said during a lecture in the Technion in Haifa. “Even if I’m not chosen, it will open the door for future generations of candidates,” she added.
Dorner, who has sometimes criticized Israel’s policies in the West Bank, stressed that she does not view herself as bound to any political view, and said she would strive to represent all strands of Israeli society.
“I try very hard not to get involved in politics,” she said during an interview with Channel 2. Dorner said she was mainly concerned about preserving human rights in Israel, regardless of politics. “We must protect human rights; it is the law, it’s not a matter of right or left,” she said. “We must protect Holocaust survivors as well as children,” she added.
Over the past few days, Dorner’s affiliates contacted both Meretz and Likud MKs to consult about the move and to ensure she would receive the ten MK signatures officially needed in order to launch her candidacy, Haaretz reported.
Dorner was born in Turkey in 1934 and immigrated to Israel at the age of 10. She completed a law degree at Hebrew University. After receiving her lawyer’s licence in 1960, she joined the IDF’s military prosecution. She later served as chief military defense counsel. Following her army service, Dorner was appointed as a judge in Beersheba District Court, and later in the Jerusalem District Court. In 1994 she was appointed a justice in the Supreme Court and served until her retirement in 2004. In 2006 she was elected president of the Israeli Press Council.
In January, Dan Shechtman, 2011 Nobel Prize winner for chemistry, said he sees himself as a candidate for president as well.
“I think I can change things for the better in this country,” he said during an interview with Channel 1. “I’m doing it now as well, in many areas, mostly in education, higher education and technological entrepreneurship. But I think I could do a lot more from a presidential position.”
Shimon Peres’s successor — Israel’s tenth president — will be chosen by the Knesset at the end of April. Peres’s seven-year term expires in July. The president is chosen by the 120 Knesset members, who tend to elect one of their own for the symbolic but resonant position.
Leading candidates include Likud MKs Reuven Rivlin and Negev Minister Silvan Shalom, Labor’s veteran Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, and former MK and Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky, but the race is thought to be hard to call at this stage.
Yifa Yaakov contributed to this report