Jewish Agency chairman, Isaac Herzog has been elected as the11th president of the State of Israel after receiving 87 votes from parliamentary members in a secret ballot vote in the Knesset plenum.
60-year-old Herzog’s opponent, Israel Prize-winning educator Miriam Peretz received 27 votes and three Members abstained. Had she been elected, Peretz would have become Israel’s first woman president.
It was the largest victory in any presidential election in Israel’s history. Herzog will take over from President Reuven Rivlin when his term ends on July 9. Wednesday’s presidential vote came as Israeli politicians from across the spectrum were holding 11th-hour negotiations to cobble together a new administration aimed at ending Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 12 straight years in office.
The Israeli presidency exerts little power, primarily meeting with party leaders after legislative elections and tasking candidates with forming governments. It is the country’s prime minister who wields actual executive authority.
The president however has the ability to grant pardons, a potentially important function as Netanyahu faces trial for alleged fraud, bribery and breach of trust.
A veteran politician, Herzog is a former head of the Labor Party, a former opposition leader, a former welfare and diaspora minister and is the son of Chaim Herzog, who served as Israel’s president from 1983 to 1993.