Wikinews:Story preparation/Isaac Herzog elected next president of Israel

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Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Isaac Herzog in 2016.
Image: Elad Brami.

The Knesset, or Parliament of Israel voted chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel Isaac Herzog, son of Israeli ambassador to the United Nations (UN) and sixth president Chaim Herzog, as the eleventh president of Israel yesterday by a vote of 87–26.

Herzog, the grandson of Ireland's first chief rabbi and first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog and nephew to Israeli ambassador to the UN and the United States and first foreign minister Abba Eban, defeated social activist and recipient of the Israel Prize Miriam Peretz and won the most votes of any presidential candidate ever. He will succeed outgoing president Reuven Rivlin on July 9 for a single seven-year term.

A senior partner at one of the nation's top firms Herzog, Fox & Ne'eman, founded by his father, Herzog is a former leader of the Israeli Labor Party, leader of the Knesset opposition and unsuccessful opponent to prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the 2015 Israeli legislative election. He also served in multiple ministerial positions, including as, according to his official profile on The Jewish Agency for Israel, the government co-ordinator for humanitarian aid to Gaza. The Guardian says he is seen as more left-wing than his opponent and predecessor.

In his first speech since being elected, Herzog accepted "the privilege of serving the entire Israeli public" and pledged "to build bridges" with Israelis in Israel and across the world, "fight antisemitism and hatred of Israel" and "safeguard the foundations of our democracy". He was congratulated by the prime minister Netanyahu, who did not endorse anyone in this campaign, by his opponent Peretz, incumbent president Rivlin and leader of the opposition Yair Lapid.

The Times of Israel described Herzog during his 15-year Knesset tenure as "a soft-spoken and mild-mannered manager".

The Israeli government web site calls the presidency "a complementary institution in the governmental structure" which exists to be "a symbol of national unity that represents the core values of the state". However, the president also has the power to pardon criminal offences and appoint a governing coalition after a parliamentary election.

Israel is currently at risk of entering its fifth election in two years as Lapid comes closer to forming an opposition government to Netanyahu by midnight, missing only a final agreement with right-wing party Yamina, headed by Naftali Bennett. Netanyahu is accused on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three different cases.