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Israel presidential candidates step forward

May 28, 2014 9:47 A.M. (Updated: May 29, 2014 12:49 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Six candidates put themselves forward on Tuesday for Israel's presidential election in two weeks, kicking off the race to succeed 90-year-old incumbent Shimon Peres.

MPs will elect the new head of state by secret ballot on June 10.

"Reuven Rivlin, Benyamin Ben Eliezer, Dalia Dorner, Meir Sheetrit, Dalia Itzik, and Dan Shechtman presented Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein with the 10 MP signatures needed for their candidacy," said a statement from the parliament.

The window for registering is open until midnight but no last-minute candidates were expected, media reports said.

Peres will step down at the end of July, just before his 91st birthday, following a political career spanning nearly seven decades.

In Israel, the post of president is largely ceremonial and executive power rests with the prime minister.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is dead set on preventing Rivlin from winning and had even considered legislation to postpone the vote or cancel the institution of the presidency altogether, reports said.

Rivlin is nonetheless the favorite, according to recent polls.

Rivlin's biggest challenger is veteran Labor parliamentarian Ben Eliezer, who has held several ministerial portfolios.

Only two candidates have come from outside parliament -- Supreme Court Justice Dorner and Shechtman, a Nobel chemistry laureate.
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