Isaac Herzog elected Israel's president, following in father's footsteps

Sen. Graham speaks after meeting with Netanyahu in Israel

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and analyzing U.S.-Israel relationship under President Biden.

Isaac Herzog, a veteran of the Labor party, has been elected as the 11th president of the State of Israel. Eighty-seven Knesset members have voted for Herzog, while 27 voted for his rival – Miriam Perez, an educator and a mother who lost her two sons in combat. This is the highest majority ever registered in Israel’s history. 

Herzog, 60, is considered to be an Israeli aristocrat. His father, Chaim Herzog, served as the sixth president of Israel, and his uncle Abba Eben was Israel’s first foreign minister and ambassador to the U.S. and the U.N. Yitzhak is named after his grandfather, Israel’s first chief rabbi. He was widely seen as the favorite because of his deep ties to the political establishment.

Herzog was a leader of the Labor Party and is currently the chairman of the Jewish Agency. The nonprofit organization promotes Jewish immigration to Israel and strengthens ties with the Jewish communities worldwide.  

After the results were announced, Herzog made a short statement. “I plan to be everyone’s president,” he said. “It is crucial to mend the bleeding wounds in our society and fight anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel to protect the pillars of our democracy.”  

The role of the president of Israel is considered a ceremonial one, but past presidents who held the position have molded the part to their traits and aspirations.

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

Herzog is an opposition leader who unsuccessfully ran against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the 2015 parliamentary elections.

Herzog has stressed during his two-week campaign that his goal is to cohere Israel’s sectoral groups and strengthen ties with the Jewish communities in the diaspora, mainly in the United States.

He will be sworn into office for a single seven-year term on July 9.  

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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