A hitherto unknown group called on MKs Sunday to back an 88-year-old former Likud defense minister to succeed Shimon Peres as president.

In a front-page ad in the Haaretz newspaper, the group, calling itself the New Association for a Better Future, said that “national responsibility” dictated that a “great, honest man” be nominated as Israel’s tenth president.

Describing itself as “a group of Israeli citizens” who are “yearning for a worthy candidate,” the association said Arens was “the man best suited to leading the country at this critical hour.”

Arens, who was born in Lithuania and raised in the US, served as defense minister, foreign minister and ambassador to the US in a lengthy career in public office. He was central to bringing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into politics, having hired the young Netanyahu to work with him when he was Israeli ambassador to the US in 1982. An aeronautical engineer by training and a one-time Technion professor, he has not declared an interest in the presidency.

“Prof. Moshe Arens was awarded the Israel Defense Prize and served the country in a number of important roles: as foreign minister, defense minister, Israel’s ambassador to Washington and a member of Knesset. He is a man unlike any other, with a deep understanding of the challenges facing Israel,” the ad read.

An ad commissioned by an unknown group endorsing the presidential candidacy of former minister Moshe Arens. (The Times of Israel)

An ad commissioned by an unknown group endorsing the presidential candidacy of former minister Moshe Arens. (The Times of Israel)

It went on to describe Arens as “a principled man with political experience, a man who is attentive to the concerns of the people, a man with a rare ability to express himself and an exemplary civil servant.”

The group added that as president, Arens would run his office with full transparency.

Though the presidential race has been heating up in recent weeks, with candidates rushing to secure support from MKs, Netanyahu has yet to come out in support of any particular candidate.

Arens’s name has been bruited in the press as a potential presidential contender, but he has not made any official statement expressing a desire to run.