MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) was elected Israel's 10th president on Tuesday, receiving the support of 63 Knesset members in a runoff vote against MK Meir Sheetrit (Hatnuah).
Rivlin will be ceremoniously sworn in as first citizen of Israel on July 24, 2014, replacing outgoing President Shimon Peres.
Rivlin told Channel 2 following his win that the first thing he will do as president is thank all his "true friends." Asked if he is angry at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who did not support his candidacy, Rivlin said he is not angry at anyone.
Following his victory, Rivlin addressed the Knesset as well as "all citizens of Israel, including Jews, Arabs, Druze, the rich, the poor, the more and less observant" and recited a blessing.
"We have reached the end of a difficult and turbulent election cycle; the public's trust in the presidency has suffered a hard blow. It is our duty to rehabilitate and restore it. I thank my fellow candidates, who added glory to the battle, and hope they continue to serve the public," Rivlin said.
After seven years of service, Rivlin will leave Likud. "The Knesset was like a second home for me," he said. "The confidence you have put in me obligates me to cease being a party member. I am no longer partisan but rather a man of the nation, one of the people."
"I thank you for your faith in me," he told the Knesset. "Long live Israeli democracy! Long live the State of Israel."
Netanyhau congratulated Rivlin on his win. "You come from the deep well of Israeli heritage, Zionist heritage, Jewish heritage, values I know well," he said. "We appreciate the long road you and your father have made …You are the first citizen of Israel."
Netanyahu described two primary missions Rivlin should tackle as president: "The first, to unify the nation. The second, to represent Israel throughout the world."
Rivlin then headed to the Western Wall and to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, where his parents, Yoel and Rachel Rivlin, are buried.
Born in Jerusalem in 1939, Rivlin is married and has four children. A lawyer by training, he served as director and chairman of the Beitar Jerusalem Sports Association, as a member of the Jerusalem city council for a decade and as chairman of the Institute for Occupational Safety and Hygiene. He also served as Minister of Communications in the Sharon government at the start of the previous decade.
Rivlin received 63 of 116 valid votes in the runoff, while Sheetrit received 53. In the first round, of the 119 ballots cast (MK Meir Porush was overseas), Rivlin got the most votes, 44, followed by Sheetrit with 31. Former MK Dalia Itzik (Kadima) came close behind with 28 votes, followed by former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner, 13, and Nobel laureate Dan Shechtman, 1. Two votes were disqualified.
Sheetrit congratulated the president-elect, saying he is a worthy candidate, and wished him success. He said he thinks some of those who supported him in the first round voted for Rivlin in the runoff.
Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar welcomed Rivlin's election. "The Knesset chose the candidate that all public opinion polls showed was most popular." He didn't respond to the question of why the prime minister did not support Rivlin.
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