Isreal’s Knesset on Tuesday elected Reuven Rivlin as the Jewish state’s 10th president since its modern rebirth in 1948.
Rivlin won 44 votes against four other candidates in the first round of the election, but as a 61-vote majority is required, a second round of voting was held. Rivlin then secured 63 votes against 53 for top contender Meir Sheetrit.
At age 74, Rivlin is a 25-year veteran of Israel’s parliament. Prior to first running for the Knesset in 1988, Rivlin was a military intelligence officer.
Rivlin was born in Jerusalem back when it was under the rule of the British Mandate. He is the offspring of early Jewish pioneers returning to the Land.
In 1809, the revered rabbinic scholar the Vilna Gaon dispatched Rivlin’s grandfather, Rabbi Hillel Rivlin, to the Holy Land in order to purchase land for Jewish settlement and to establish a Jewish community.
While he is a member of the Likud Party, Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu do not get along particularly well. There are various speculations as to the cause of the dispute, but it was reported last month that Netanyahu actually tried to abolish the Israeli presidency (a largely ceremonial position) in order to keep Rivlin from attaining the post. When that failed, Netanyahu was said to have pleaded with Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel to run for Israel’s presidency.