Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explored a run for the presidency last month, Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew sister site, reports.
Senior Likud officials who sought to remove Netanyahu from his post as prime minister as a way to solve the ongoing political crisis suggested the option to him in mid-May while Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid held the mandate to form the next government. “Are you sure this thing has a majority?” he asked them, referring to votes in the Knesset. The officials assured Netanyahu that he did, but promised to explore the possibility and even seek to have members of Knesset sign his candidacy papers.
The inquiries were conducted in secret by senior Likud officials along with representatives of the prime minister’s office, who came to the conclusion that Netanyahu would be able to beat out any candidate, including Isaac Herzog, who was ultimately elected to the position in early June.
At the same time, Netanyahu’s top advisers held consultations with legal experts who came to the conclusion that Netanyahu’s potential election to the presidency would not be struck down by the High Court.
The senior Likud officials returned to Netanyahu promising that he had a majority of support in the Knesset, only to receive the cold shoulder from the prime minister who had already decided against the move. “I am not interested,” he said. “It’s better to be the head of the opposition than to be president.”