Israel’s Parliament has elected former opposition leader Isaac Herzog as President of the country.
The 60-year-old won on Wednesday by 87 votes to 26 against 67-year-old teacher and activist Miriam Peretz. Herzog takes over the presidency from Reuven Rivlin on July 9.
Herzog announced he would be “President of all Israelis” and work towards uniting the divided country. “Now is the time to build bridges,” he said, adding he would fight against anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel worldwide.
Herzog is secular, was born in Tel Aviv and has long been involved in politics. He had led the Labour Party since 2013. His father Chaim Herzog was Israel’s President from 1983-1993.
In 2018, Herzog became Chairman of the aid organization Jewish Agency, which is responsible for immigration to Israel, among other things.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Herzog on Twitter, wishing him all the best in the name of all Israelis.
The President has a primarily representative function in Israel. The most important tasks are pardoning prisoners and issuing a mandate to form a government. He is elected by Parliament every seven years in a secret ballot.