Israel has a New President!

Rivlin, Peres and Netanyahu

 Three Political Rivals: Rivlin, Peres and Netanyahu

The race for presidency in Israel ended and the results are in. Reuven Rivlin is Israel's 10th President, succeeding President Shimon Peres and will be sworn in at the end of July. (The president in Israel is not like a president in America. We have a prime minister; see differences below.)

Rivlin, born in Jerusalem on September 9, 1939, is an Israeli lawyer and politician, currently serving as a member of the Knesset (Israeli parliament) with the Likud party. He was first elected to the 12th Knesset in 1988. His time in parliament has included two terms as Speaker of the Knesset and the Minister of Communications. He is known to be a huge soccer fan, vegetarian and a big rival of the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Rivlin will have very big shoes to fill with Shimon Peres, an internationally known figure and one of the most loved presidents ever in Israel, leaving office at the age of 90. Peres is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defense, Minister of Finance, Minister of Transportation and, of course, Prime Minister of Israel.

Peres said the he would focus most of his time now on developing the Peres institute for peace, an organization promoting peace building between Israel and its neighbors (particularly between Israelis and Palestinians) as well as between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel.

The position of the President in Israel is largely an apolitical ceremonial role with the real executive power lying in the hands of the Prime Minister. Presidents are elected by the Knesset for a seven-year term, and are limited to a single term.

The President is elected by an absolute majority in the Knesset. The president also endorses the credentials of ambassadors and receives the credentials of foreign diplomats, appoints the Governor of the Bank of Israel, members of the Council on Higher Education, the National Academy of Science, the Broadcasting Authority, the Authority to Rehabilitate Prisoners, the Chief Rabbinical Council, the President of Magen David Adom, the President of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and ceremonially appoints the Prime Minister.

The President also has the power to pardon or commute the sentences of both soldiers and civilians, and ceremonially appoints judges to courts, including the Supreme Court, after appointment by the Judicial Selection Committee.

The President also serves as the main speaker at the opening ceremonies of the half-yearly Knesset conference as well as at the annual official ceremonies for Yom Hazikaron and Yom HaShoah.