JERUSALEM – MK Reuven “Rubi” Rivlin was elected on Tuesday by the Knesset as Israel’s 10th president. One after the other, 119 Members of Knesset casted their confidential ballot for one of the five candidates. Not one candidate received the required 61 votes, and so a second round between Rivlin who came in first, and MK Meir Sheetrit, who came in second, was required.
After a second round of votes Rivlin was announced Israel’s newest president by Knesset Spokesman Yudi Edelstein with 63 votes. The left wing parties rallied around MK Sheetrit at the last moment, but Rivlin still gained the majority of votes.
Reuvin (Rubi) Rivlin was born in Jerusalem on September 9th, 1939. He is married to Nechama and has four children. He is a scion of a rabbinical family, a descendent of the students of the Vilna Gaon, the son of Yosef Yoel Rivlin and a member of the well known Jerusalemite Rivlin family.
Rivlin served as a Major in the IDF. He holds an LL.B. from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and practiced law.
Rivlin has been a politician since 1988, serving as a Member of Knesset for the Likud party. He has been most noted for his role as Speaker of the Knesset from 1988 to 1993. Rivlin has further served as Minister of Communications during the 15th Knesset. Before joining the Knesset he served as Member of the Jerusalem Municipal Council.
In 2001, which serving as communications minister, Rivlin was famously pied in the face by a young, female activist. Rivlin brushed off the incident and joked, “I have insurance for many things, but not for whipped cream.”
Rivlin has been a presidential candidate in the past. He ran in the 2007 election for President as the Likud candidate. He withdrew after the first round of voting when it became clear that Shimon Peres had sufficient broad support to inevitably win in a run-off.
He has been a vegetarian since the late 1960’s and is Israel’s first vegetarian president. Rivlin is a well known of Beitar Jerusalem soccer fan, ever since he first saw a game of Beitar in 1946 when he was 7 years old. During every radio interview he “greets the listeners from Jerusalem.”
Politically, Rivlin is described as a hawkish lawmaker. He has voiced strong opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state. Rivlin is a longtime supporter of building Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.While rejecting total Palestinian statehood and independence, Rivlin has proposed in the past to create a special regulation in which Jews and Arabs hold common citizenship but vote for separate parliaments.
However, he has made clear that as president he would not interfere in peacemaking efforts should the government choose to support a Palestinian state.
The White House congratulated Rivlin on Tuesday and signaled its readiness to work with the new president-elect. In a statement, US President Barack Obama praised Rivlin and hoped the new president would help strengthen the “unique relationship” between Israel and the US.
“President-elect Rivlin has a long and dedicated record of public service and we look forward to continued strong ties, to the benefit of both our nations, under Mr. Rivlin’s presidency,” Obama said in a statement.
Speaking at a Knesset ceremony celebrating Rivlin’s election, the president-elect said that his new position “commits me to remove the robe of politics.”
“I am not a man of a political movement. I am a man of everyone. a man of the people,” Rivlin said, visibly moved.
After winning the election, Rivlin visited the Western Wall and the grave of his father, who is buried on the Mount of Olives.