Political leaders hailed the June 2 election of Isaac Herzog as the next president of Israel, after the chairman of the Jewish Agency and former leader of the Labor Party won more votes in the Knesset than anyone else. what presidential candidate in the country’s history.
Herzog, the son of a former president, was elected by 87 of the 120 Knesset members to fill the role of Israel’s 11th President, a largely honorary post. Miriam Peretz, an activist and winner of the Israel Prize who lost two sons of soldiers in the wars in Israel, was supported by 26 lawmakers in the secret ballot.
In a speech following the vote, Herzog pledged to serve all Israelis.
Congratulating Herzog, Peretz said he would be a beloved president, ensuring that his prayers and those of the nation were on his success in this role. “Her success is our success,” she said.
President Reuven Rivlin, whose seven-year term ends on July 9, phoned his newly elected successor to congratulate him.
“I send you my warmest greetings, Mr. President! Rivlin said in a statement. “The title of ‘first citizen’ and the task of protecting the character of the State of Israel, especially at this time, are heavy responsibilities. I have no doubt that you will endure them superbly. I am proud to hand over the baton to you in a month’s time.
Leading lawmakers also congratulated Herzog on his election to the presidency.
“I wish him great success on behalf of all Israeli citizens,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.
The two men also made joint statements to the media.
Herzog, who was Netanyahu’s main opponent in the 2015 parliamentary elections, said he hoped “to be able to work with any government and with any prime minister.”
Netanyahu commented, “Well, let’s avoid this topic for now,” to laughter from the crowd.
The exchange came as political opponents seek to finalize a coalition that will see Netanyahu replaced as prime minister, before the term given to Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid expires at midnight to form a government. Lapid also congratulated Herzog.
“A worthy and loved man who sees the good of the people and the country ahead of him all the time. Good luck, President !, ”he wrote on Twitter.
Lapid also sent his best wishes to Peretz, saying: “You will always be the president of the heart of the Israeli people. “
Meeting with Herzog, Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin said: “At this time, a lot of people are turning to the presidential residence. They see the president as the person who symbolizes our common values… I have no doubts that you will fulfill the hopes of many when you are a candidate.
“A Zionist with a big heart,” tweeted Yamina leader Naftali Bennett, who is in talks with Lapid to form a government in which the two would be named prime ministers.
Bennett added, “Your great mission is to unite the nation. With God’s help, we will do it together. “
Labor leader Merav Michaeli hailed Herzog as “our flesh and blood”, noting her former leadership of the center-left party she now leads.
“The huge and unwavering support you have received from [the Knesset] members is a testament to how accepted you are by huge sections of the Israeli nation,” Michaeli wrote on Twitter.
Ultra-Orthodox Shas leader Aryeh Deri said he had “no doubt” that Herzog could bring all Israelis together.
Religious Zionism party leader Bezalel Smotrich, whose far-right party announced ahead of the vote it would support Peretz, also praised Herzog.
“Unite the nation, strengthen the country’s Jewish and Zionist identity, stick to your deep family roots and fight for the righteous path of the Jewish people and the State of Israel in the world,” Smotrich tweeted .
In America, the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC praised Herzog, as did the American Jewish Committee, which wished him “mazal tov!” “.
“Under his able leadership, ties between Israel and Jews in the Diaspora will continue to flourish and develop,” AJC said in a statement posted on its Twitter account.
The Israeli president holds a largely honorary position but plays a key role in deciding who gets the mandate to form a government after the elections. The president also has the power to pardon people and grant clemency, which could become essential if Netanyahu is convicted in his ongoing corruption trial.
As the vote approached, Herzog declined to say whether he would consider pardoning Netanyahu, who had not supported either candidate.
A well-to-do lawyer by profession in one of the best firms in the country (founded by his father), Herzog has a family history elevating him to Israeli royalty. He is the grandson of Israel’s first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, Isaac Herzog, whose name he bears, and the son of former IDF Major General turned President Chaim Herzog. His brother Michael is a retired IDF Brigadier General. His aunt Suzy was the wife of the former foreign minister, the legendary Abba Eban.
Source The Times of Israel