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Israel Selects Isaac Herzog to be Country's New President

06-02-2021
In this Monday, March 27, 2017, file photo, Isaac Herzog speaks at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
In this Monday, March 27, 2017, file photo, Isaac Herzog speaks at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

JERUSALEM, Israel - The Israeli parliament chose veteran politician Isaac Herzog to be the country's next president on Wednesday, setting him up to replace President Reuven Rivlin next month.

Herzog won 87 out of 120 Knesset votes, defeating social activist Miriam Peretz. As the country's 11th president, he will serve a single seven-year term beginning on July 9. 

Herzog currently serves as head of the Jewish Agency, an Israeli non-profit that helps Jews around the world immigrate to Israel. He is also the former head of Israel's Labor Party and ran an unsuccessful campaign against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2013. 

Netanyahu congratulated Herzog for his win on Wednesday. 

“I wish him luck in the name of all Israeli citizens,” he said. “I thank Miriam Peretz for her honorable candidacy and am certain she will continue to contribute to Israeli society, as she has done her entire life.”

Herzog is the son of a prominent Zionist family. His father, Chaim Herzog, was once Israel's ambassador to the United Nations before being elected president. His grandfather was Israel's first chief rabbi. His uncle, Abba Eban, served as Israel's first foreign minister and ambassador to the UN and the US. 

The Israeli presidency is largely a ceremonial role but plays a key part in selecting which political leader will form a government coalition and be prime minister. Israel has held four national elections in the past two years. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's opponents, a diverse bloc of parties from the political left, right and center, have until midnight Wednesday to put together a new government coalition. If they succeed, it will mark the end of Netanyahu's 12-year reign as prime minister. If they fail, the country could face another national election in the fall. 

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