Yitzchak Herzog Elected 11th President of Israel

Yitzchak Herzog davens at the Kosel on Tuesday. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

On Wednesday, the Knesset voted for Jewish Agency chairman Yitzchak Herzog to become the 11th president of the State of Israel after he received 87 votes from MKs in a secret ballot vote in the Knesset plenum.

Herzog’s opponent, Israel Prize-winning educator Miriam Peretz, received 27 votes.

With his victory, Herzog become the first president whose father had been president. Chaim Herzog was Israel’s sixth president.

Herzog davened at the Kosel on Tuesday to pray for his success.

This is the first presidential race in Israel in which none of the candidates were current MKs.

Herzog, 60, is a former head of the Labor Party and opposition leader who unsuccessfully ran against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the 2015 elections.

His father, Chaim Herzog, was Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations before being elected president. His uncle, Abba Eban, was Israel’s first foreign minister and ambassador to the United Nations and United States. His grandfather, Harav Yitzchak Eizik Herzog, was the country’s first Chief Rabbi.

Herzog has served as head of the Jewish Agency for the past three years since resigning from Knesset. Given his deep ties to the political establishment, he was widely seen as the favorite to win.

The president-elect is not sworn in on the day of the voting. President Reuven Rivlin will remain in office until July 9, 2021. The new president will be sworn in closer to that date.

In his first speech after being elected president, Herzog said that he intends “to build bridges” within Israeli society and with the Jewish diaspora, to encourage entrepreneurship, fight antisemitism and hatred of Israel and to safekeep the foundations of our democracy.

“I accept upon myself the heavy responsibility you have placed upon me. I accept the privilege of serving the entire Israeli public,” he said.

It was noted that Herzog’s 87 votes is the most attained by any candidate in Israeli presidential history. The previous record had been 86, achieved three times: Shimon Peres in 2007, Yitzchak Navon in 1978 and by Zalman Shazar in 1968.

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