Reuven Rivlin elected 10th president of State of Israel

Reuven_Rivlin_2011On 10 June, Likud senior figure and former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin was elected the tenth president of the State of Israel after he scored a victory over Hatnua Member of the Knesset Meir Sheetrit in the second round of secret voting at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

75-year-old Rivlin received 63 votes in the second round, while Sheetrit received 53 votes.

A veteran Likud MK, Reuven Rivlin was as first elected to the Knesset in 1988.

He will officially replace Shimon Peres as the 10th President when he steps down in July after a seven-year term.

Rivlin was born on 9 September 1939 in Jerusalem, then part of British Mandatory Palestine.

Rivlin qualified and worked as a lawyer before entering politics.

In 1978 he was elected to the Jerusalem city council, a position he held until 1988.

Between 1981 and 1986 he served as a member of the executive council of Israel’s national airline El-Al.

Rivlin was elected to the Knesset with the Likud in 1988. He lost his seat in 1992 but regained it in 1996.

He served as Minister of Communications in the government of Ariel Sharon (2001-2003).

He was speaker of the Knesset from 2003-2006 and 2009-2013.

In 2007 he stood against Shimon Peres in the Israeli Presidential election.

Rivlin is an avid supporter of Beitar Jerusalem FC, having served as a legal advisor to and Chairman of the Beitar Jerusalem Sports Association. In 2013 he strongly condemned widely reported racist outbursts by sections of Beitar Jerusalem’s supporters.

As Speaker of the Knesset, Rivlin developed a reputation as a staunch supporter of democracy and civil liberties; many of his decisions angered his allies on the right.

In 2010 he made efforts to prevent the removal of Haneen Zoabi MK’s parliamentary privileges, over her participation in the Mavi Marmara flotilla and he has a friendship with Ta’al MK Ahmed Tibi, despite their diverging views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Rivlin is a veteran Likud MK considered a staunch defender of Israeli democracy and the independence of the Knesset; a fact which led him to fall out with Prime Minister Netanyahu during the last Knesset.

Although he personally opposes the two-state solution, he has said he would not intervene in the decisions of Israel’s elected politicians.

In an interview with Times of Israel he emphasised the importance of the neutrality of the president, saying, “It’s not for the president to determine the arrangements between Israel and the Palestinians, and the Arab world … but to be the bridge between opinions, and to facilitate dialogue and understanding.”

In an article, he recently described the politicisation of the presidency as a threat to the institution. He wrote: “On a constitutional level, the presidency is symbolic, rather than a source of authority.” He added: “The duty (and right) of the elected government to govern obliges the President to give appropriate support to government’s decisions”, even though the President may personally disagree with these decisions.

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Category: A Frontpage, Israel, Palestinian Authority (PA), World