Herzog, descendant of prominent Israeli family, elected president | World news
By ILAN BEN ZION, Associated Press
JERUSALEM (AP) – Isaac Herzog, a seasoned politician and descendant of a prominent Israeli family, was elected president on Tuesday, a largely ceremonial role that aims to serve as the nation’s moral compass and promote unity.
The anonymous vote took place among the 120 members of the Knesset, or parliament. Herzog will be Israel’s 11th president, succeeding Reuven Rivlin, who is expected to step down next month after seven years in office.
Herzog, 60, is a former Israeli Labor Party leader and opposition leader who ran unsuccessfully against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the 2015 parliamentary elections.
He comes from a prominent Zionist family. His father, Chaim Herzog, was Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations before he was elected president. His uncle, Abba Eban, was the Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs and Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations and the United States. His grandfather was the country’s first chief rabbi.
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Herzog beat 67-year-old Miriam Peretz, an educator who was seen as a down-to-earth foreigner close to the country’s dominant conservative and nationalist political camp.
Herzog has been the head of the Jewish Agency, a non-profit organization that works closely with the government to promote immigration to Israel, for the past three years since resigning from parliament. He was widely regarded as the frontrunner due to his deep ties to the political establishment. He will serve for a single term of seven years from July 9.
The president is responsible for bringing in a political party leader to form ruling coalitions after legislative elections. Israel has held four national elections in the past two years amid a protracted political crisis.
Opponents of Netanyahu had to face Wednesday at midnight to form a new coalition government. If this fails, the country could be plunged into a new electoral campaign.
The president also has the power to grant pardons, creating a potentially sensitive situation as Netanyahu stands on trial on a slew of corruption charges.
Peretz immigrated from Morocco as a child and worked as a teacher, educator and lecturer on Judaism, Zionism and mourning. Two of his sons died while serving in the Israeli army. In 2018, she received the Israel Prize, the country’s highest honor, for Lifetime Achievement.
She would have been the first woman and the first settler to hold this position.
She and her family lived in one of the Israeli settlements on the Sinai Peninsula until a peace treaty was concluded with Egypt in 1979 and the territory returned to them. Peretz then moved to the settlement of Givat Zeev in the occupied West Bank just north of Jerusalem.
Most of the world considers the Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians, who seek territory as part of a future state.
Associated Press writer Joseph Krauss contributed.
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