Reuven Rivlin to Replace Shimon Peres as Israel’s Next President


The 74-year-old replaces Shimon Peres who used the role to conduct secret negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Israel’s parliament has elected Reuven Rivlin, an ardent Jewish nationalist with a reputation as a staunch democrat, as the country’s next president, replacing Shimon Peres, the internationally respected statesman who in recent years provided a dovish foil to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Rivlin, a former speaker of parliament from the ruling Likud party, gained 63 votes in a run-off against centrist politician Meir Sheetrit, who gained 53 votes. His election ended a gruelling and often ugly contest for a job which is largely ceremonial but also offers incumbents chances to wield influence. Mr Peres used his post to conduct secret negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr Rivlin, 74, is seen as being independent of Mr Netanyahu. They have a long-standing feud and the Prime Minister sought to thwart his candidacy until he realised he was too popular to stop.

While Mr Netanyahu pays lip service to a two-state compromise with the Palestinians, Mr Rivlin unabashedly opposes it. Like Mr Netanyahu he is a firm backer of the illegal Israeli settlement drive in the occupied West Bank.

Fearing the international fallout, Mr Netanyahu has so far resisted pressure to formally annex most of the West Bank. Mr Rivlin advocates that all of the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea should be under Israeli sovereignty.

Israel, he argues, should grant citizenship to the Palestinians of the West Bank rather than keep them under the current combination of Palestinian self-rule and Israeli military rule.

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SOURCE: The Independent
Ben Lynfield

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