Nobel laureate Prof. Dan Shechtman met on Monday with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, his first meeting with an MK since announcing he was formally running for the country’s presidency last month.
Israel’s head of state is elected by the Knesset, with the post set to be vacated by nonagenarian Shimon Peres in July.
Shechtman, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2011, met with Edelstein at the Knesset.
“You are the first MK that I am meeting with,” Shechtman told Edelstein. “These are important times for the State of Israel and it needs strategic thinking to know where we want to get to.”
After declaring himself to be apolitical, Shechtman noted that education is a matter that is close to his heart and that he lectures extensively abroad.
“I give about 100 lectures abroad every year and tell people about creative, scientific, and entrepreneurial Israel,” he said. “I love this country, its landscapes and the people in it.”
For his part, Edelstein tactfully avoided any indication of backing for Shechtman, and instead spoke of the credentials that the next president should have.
“By the nature of things, I am not getting involved in the presidential campaign, and of course I will not announce whom I support,” he said. “But in my opinion, anyone who campaigns should be a person who knows that he will have access and the ability to touch all the sectors and citizens of Israel, regardless of their class or views.”
Last month Shechtman announced his intention to run for the presidency during an interview with Channel 1.
Shechtman’s chances are considered slim. The last eight presidents have been active politicians, and Shechtman faces stiff competition from fellow contenders, including Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom, former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, and Labor MK and former defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer.
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 late July. To run for president, candidates must obtain a minimum of 10 letters of support from members of Knesset.
Shechtman’s 1982 discovery of quasicrystals “fundamentally altered how chemists conceive of solid matter,” according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awarded him the Nobel Prize for the discovery in 2011. He was the tenth Israeli to receive a Nobel.