A veteran of the Israeli Labor Party pledges to heal deep divisions in society as he takes the oath.

Isaac Herzog pledged to heal the deep divisions in Israeli society by taking the oath to become Israel’s 11th president.

With one hand on a Torah in front of the Knesset – Israel’s parliament – Herzog, 60, assumed the largely ceremonial position on Wednesday designed to serve as the country’s moral compass.

Herzog vowed to be “everyone’s president”, adding that the “central expectation” of all Israelis “of me, of all of us, is to lower the tone, lower the flames, calm things down. “.

“My mission, the mission of my mandate, is to do everything to rebuild hope”, he declared in his inauguration speech.

Ceremony

The hemicycle was festooned with large bouquets of white lilies for the inauguration. Military rabbis sounded ram’s horns, followed by a performance by a children’s choir. The assembled people sang the national anthem of Israel.

Amidst applause, Herzog and outgoing President Reuven Rivlin walked away from the podium together.

“The truth is, I envy you a bit,” Rivlin said in a letter to Herzog posted earlier on Twitter.

He called it “a great and wonderful privilege” to be president of all communities in Israel – Jews and Arabs, religious and secular, young and old.

Herzog, whose Father Chaim served as President of Israel in the 1980s, is to serve for a single seven-year term. Chaim Herzog was also Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations.

Herzog takes office at a time of deep divisions in Israeli society [Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP]

The new president’s grandfather, Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, was the country’s first chief rabbi. His uncle, Abba Eban, was Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador to the UN and the United States.

Herzog was elected president by the Knesset last month. He had previously been leader of the Labor Party and leader of the opposition in parliament.

After leaving politics in 2018, he headed the Jewish Agency, a non-profit organization that works closely with the Israeli government to promote Jewish immigration to Israel and serve Jewish communities abroad.

“President of all”

Taking office at a time of deep divisions in Israeli society, Herzog said during his election that he intended to be “everyone’s president” and work to preserve Israel’s democracy.

While most of the office’s functions are receiving foreign dignitaries and other ceremonial roles, the president has the power to grant pardons.

It could become part of the national agenda if former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on trial on corruption charges, is ever convicted.

The president is also responsible for selecting a political party leader to form a governing coalition and serve as prime minister after the parliamentary elections – a task Rivlin has completed five times during his tenure, most recently after the parliamentary elections in March 23.

Herzog’s inauguration comes less than a month after Israel was sworn in to form a new government under Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, which struck a coalition deal with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

Netanyahu was removed from his post after a 12-year tenure as prime minister – the longest in Israel’s history – and now serves as leader of the opposition.





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