Veteran politician Herzog elected president of Israel

Veteran politician Herzog elected president of Israel

JERUSALEM-The Associated Press
Veteran politician Herzog elected president of Israel

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

An anonymous vote was held on June 2 among the 120 members of the Knesset, or parliament.

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.

He is 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 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. Given his deep ties to the political establishment, he is widely seen as the favorite to win.

Most of the world considers Israel’s West Bank settlements illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians, who seek the territory as part of a future state.

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

Netanyahu’s opponents faced a midnight deadline on June 3 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.