Veteran politician Herzog elected president of Israel


PTI, Jun 2, 2021, 3:51 PM IST

Jerusalem: Isaac Herzog, a veteran politician and the scion of a prominent Israeli family, has been elected president of Israel, a largely ceremonial role.

An anonymous vote was held on Tuesday among the 120 members of the Knesset.

Herzog, 60, is a former head of Israel’s Labor Party and opposition leader who unsuccessfully ran against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the 2013 parliamentary elections.

He will succeed Reuven Rivlin, who is set to leave office next month.

Herzog is the scion of a prominent Zionist family.

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 the United States. His grandfather was the country’s first chief rabbi.

Herzog has served as head of the Jewish Agency, a nonprofit that works closely with the government to promote immigration to Israel, for the past three years since resigning from parliament.

The president, while largely a ceremonial head of state, is tasked with tapping a political party leader to form governing coalitions after parliamentary elections.

Israel has held four national elections in the past two years amid a protracted political crisis.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opponents faced a midnight deadline Wednesday to put together a new coalition government. If they fail, the country could be plunged into another election campaign.

The president also has the power to grant pardons — creating a potentially sensitive situation as Netanyahu stands trial for a series of corruption charges.

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