Reuven Rivlin, a right-wing legislator opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state, will be Israel’s next president after being elected by parliament yesterday to take office when Shimon Peres steps down in July.
Mr Rivlin, 74, is a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far right Likud party and has a reputation for political independence and has had a frosty personal relationship with the Israeli premier.
A former speaker of parliament, Mr Rivlin defeated Meir Sheetrit of the moderate Hatnuah party 63-53 in a run-off vote in the legislature, after none of the original five candidates won an outright victory in a first-round ballot.
Although Israeli heads of state are not directly involved in political decision-making, Mr Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, used the presidency as a pulpit for advocating peace with the Palestinians, often taking a more conciliatory stance than Netanyahu.
Mr Peres, 90, ends his seven-year presidential term at the end of July.
Unlike Mr Peres, Mr Rivlin has called for a confederation with the Palestinians rather than negotiating an independent state for them – something Palestinian leaders have long rejected.