Former Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) said Wednesday evening that there were only three people who did not want him to retain his role as Knesset speaker in the new government: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former foreign minister Avidgor Liberman and a third person whom he would not name but whom he described as being “at the center” of things.
In an interview with Channel 10, Rivlin said “I don’t gossip” in response to a question about whether this third person was the prime minister’s wife Sara Netanyahu.
During the interview, Rivlin mentioned that Netanyahu promised him on several occasions that he would remain Knesset speaker in the new government.
“I really believed the prime minister, my friend ‘Bibi,’ who told my wife that i’m the only one he can count on,” said Rivlin.
“His explanations [for my dismissal] were beyond my comprehension, and I have to say that they were even insulting. He voiced disapproval that the Knesset speaker would promote himself for the presidency. Even though he is the one who asked me to submit my candidacy for the role,” continued Rivlin.
Rivlin has long been rumored to be the government-favored candidate to take over the presidency once Shimon Peres concludes his term next year, a candidacy now being called into question.
Sources close to Rivlin suggested that several actions by Rivlin had annoyed Sara Netanyahu and spurred her to push to remove him from his post, including the decision to seat political rival Tzipi Livni in the front row at a ceremony, and allow journalist Rino Tzror to light a torch at an Independence Day event.
Rivlin maintained he would not have been offended had the prime minister come to him directly and told him he preferred to appoint someone who would be more “convenient, less ‘problematic.”
“I may have argued, but it’s not nice to mislead people. What hurt me more than my ouster — and this was an ouster — was that my friends did not stand up and say ‘enough,’” Rivlin said.
Netanyahu appointed former minister of public diplomacy and Diaspora affairs Yuli Edelstein to be Knesset Speaker when finalizing his coalition earlier this month, and Edelstein took over the role last week when the new government was sworn in.
Sara Netanyahu, who Forbes Israel ranked as Israel’s most powerful woman earlier this month, has been widely reported to exercise considerable influence over her husband’s political appointments.