Isaac Herzog elected as Israel’s 11th president, to take office in July

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June 2 (UPI) — Isaac Herzog was elected Wednesday as Israel’s 11th president in a secret ballot of 120 lawmakers in the Knesset and will succeed Reuven Rivlin next month.

Herzog received 87 votes to opponent Miriam Peretz’s 27. Herzog will replace Rivlin on July 9, when he will begin a seven-year term.

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Herzog’s father, Chaim Herzog, was Israel’s sixth president, serving between 1983 and 1993.

“I will be president of everyone,” he said, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Herzog’s was the largest victory in any presidential election in Israeli history. Wednesday’s was the first presidential election in which none of the candidates were from the Knesset.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Herzog for winning the post, which many observers consider mainly a symbolic position. The prime minister is Israel’s chief head of state.

Herzog, 60, is former head of Israel’s Labor Party and unsuccessfully ran against Netanyahu in the 2013 parliamentary elections. His uncle Abba Eban was Israel’s first foreign minister and ambassador to the United States, and his grandfather was the country’s first chief rabbi.

Since leaving the Knesset in 2018, Herzog has led the Jewish Agency, a nonprofit that works to promote immigration.

U.S. President Joe Biden congratulated Herzog on his victory on behalf of the United States.

“Throughout his career, President-elect Herzog has demonstrated his unwavering commitment to strengthening Israel’s security, advancing dialogue and building bridges across the global Jewish community,” Biden said in a statement. “I am confident that under his presidency, the partnership between Israel and the United States will continue to grow and deepen.”

Meanwhile, opposition parties later Wednesday agreed to a power-sharing government that will unseat Netanyahu.

Yamina Party leader Naftali Bennett, former defense minister, announced during a televised address Monday that he will form a government with Yair Lapid, chairman of the Yesh Atid Party.

Under the proposal, Bennett would take over as prime minister, later to be succeeded by Lapid.

Four inconclusive elections held in the last two years have allowed Netanyahu to remain in power despite rising dissatisfaction with his 12-year rule among right-wing leaders outside of his own Likud Party.