September 19, 2021

Former Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog elected president of Israel

Labor Isaac Herzog, 60, was elected president of the State of Israel by MPs on Wednesday (June 2nd). He becomes the eleventh president of the Jewish state and replaces Reuven Rivlin, whose seven-year term ends on July 9, in this largely honorary function. He garnered the support of 87 Knesset MPs, 26 having preferred the other candidate, Miriam Peretz, a former teacher.

Mr. Herzog, nicknamed “Bouji”, spent several years in the United States, depending on the positions held by his father, before serving as an officer in military intelligence, then studying law at the University of Tel Aviv. Aviv. He was first elected to parliament in 2003 and then served as secretary of Ehoud Barak’s Labor government, before holding several ministerial portfolios between 2005 and 2011. He took over as head of a struggling Labor party in November. 2013.

For the resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians

In the past, Mr Herzog has campaigned for the resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians to become a central part of the Labor Party, which had moved away from it. Barely ten days after taking office, in 2013, he met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank.

During the 2015 campaign, he promised to relaunch the peace process, interrupted in April 2014, and even said he was ready to ” clear out “ Israeli settlements if needed.

During his most recent assignment, he was the head of the Jewish Agency, a paragovernmental organization that deals in particular with Jewish immigration and relations with the diaspora. He left this post, which he had held since 2018, to run for president.

The new president of the State of Israel, born in 1960, is the heir to one of the greatest Israeli families. He follows in the footsteps of his father, Chaïm Herzog, head of state from 1983 to 1993. “Herzog carries on his shoulders the heavy weight of his family heritage”, wrote in 2015 the daily Haaretz, speaking of an Israeli version of the Kennedys.

His father, of Irish origin, was chief of intelligence in the army, before becoming ambassador to the United Nations, then the sixth president of Israel. His uncle, Abba Eban, is a renowned diplomat in the country. He served in Washington and at the United Nations, then assumed the costume of head of Israeli diplomacy, a position he held during the Six Day War in 1967. As for his grandfather, Isaac Halevi Herzog , he was the first Ashkenazi rabbi of the State of Israel.

Defeated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the 2015 legislative elections, Isaac Herzog takes the presidency while his former rival could be overthrown by a motley coalition.

Married to a lawyer and father of three, he lives in Tel Aviv, his hometown.

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Le Monde with AFP, AP and Reuters