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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's Daughter Exploring Possible Presidential Run

The daughter of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party’s deceased spiritual leader is ready to submit her candidacy for the next president of Israel, despite the party’s general rejection of women as public figures.

Adina Bar-Shalom, whose father Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was the Shas spiritual leader for over three decades until his death in November 2013, is putting out feelers to see how much support she would have in a bid to replace President Shimon Peres when his term in office ends this year, Maariv reported on Wednesday.

Bar-Shalom requires a minimum of 10 members of Knesset to sign letters of support for her campaign and Shas has 11 MKs; however, she is reported to be seeking additional backing of parliamentarians from other factions.

The Shas party fields only male party members and frowns upon women holding high-profile public roles. A source in the party said that if Bar-Shalom goes ahead with her candidacy plans, the matter will be submitted for consideration by the party’s council of spiritual leaders.

Bar-Shalom is the respected founder of a pioneering college for ultra-Orthodox women and considered relatively moderate in some of her political views. In August 2012, she joined a group of rabbis who met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, despite her father having reportedly wished two years earlier that Abbas “vanish from this world.”

The elections for the next president of Israel are due to be held in April. Among those considering running for the position is Nobel laureate Dan Shechtman, who over the weekend declared his interest in taking up the position. Shechtman, known for his work in chemistry and material sciences, said becoming president would enable him to carry out his vision for improving the country’s future.

A petition in support of Schechtman circulating online gained over 10,000 signatures in just a few days, Maariv reported Tuesday.

Peres’s successor — Israel’s 10th president — will be chosen by the Knesset at the end of April. Peres’s seven-year term expires in July.

The president is chosen by the 120 Knesset members, who tend to elect one of their own for the symbolic yet resonant position. Likely candidates this time include Likud MKs Reuven Rivlin and Minister for Regional Development and Energy and Water Silvan Shalom, Labor veteran Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, and former MK and Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky. No clear frontrunner has yet emerged.

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