A senior Israeli politician has declared that he will not seek the presidency in 2019, despite being the favourite in a recent opinion poll, after his party lost its confidence in the future of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Yehuda Weinstein, a member of Netanyahu’s governing coalition, told the Haaretz newspaper on Sunday that he did not intend to seek re-election because he felt “fearful” of what would happen to his party if he did.
But he added: “If I had to choose, I would rather be president than vice-president.”
Weinstein, a former minister, has emerged as the frontrunner for the next premiership, which could be decided by the end of the year.
He said that while he was confident of winning the elections, he felt it was important to put in place an election system to prevent the formation of a new coalition.
He also said he did hope that the Israeli government would not “throw a wrench in the work of the next government”.
“I believe the prime minister is very likely to have an opportunity to make a difference and be successful,” he said.
I do not want the government to become a coalition of the worst.””
The prime minister’s priority will be his political survival.
I do not want the government to become a coalition of the worst.”
The polls, published on Sunday, showed that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, which has dominated the Knesset since 2009, was losing ground to its centrist and far-right rivals.
The poll showed that if Netanyahu were to step down in 2019 and run for the post of foreign minister, he would defeat his closest rival, Avigdor Liberman, by 42 percentage points.
The survey of 3,000 Israelis found that while some voters, such as Liberman and Weinstein, were supportive of Netanyahu, a majority of them wanted him to stay in the job.