Isaac Herzog will take office on Wednesday as Israel’s 11th president after a day of ceremonies with outgoing President Reuven Rivlin.
The day will start with the official unveiling of the bust of Rivlin in the statue garden of the President’s official residence.
The sculpture was erected Monday alongside those of Rivlin’s predecessors two days before he completes his seven-year term.
On a plaque beneath the bust is a quote from Rivlin: “Without the ability to listen, there is no ability to learn. Without the ability to learn, there is no ability to repair.”
During his term in office, Rivlin consistently scored high public approval ratings, with his determination to represent the broad spectrum of Israeli communities and his obvious compassion resonating with the public.
In the afternoon, Herzog will take his oath of office in the Knesset before a formal welcoming ceremony at the residence, including an IDF honor guard, after which Rivlin will depart for the last time.
Herzog, a former Jewish Agency chairman and Labor party leader won more votes in the Knesset in the election in early June than any presidential candidate in the country’s history.
Ahead of the ceremony, Herzog prayedat the Western Wall. In the note he left in the cracks of the wall, Herzog wrote that he will devote himself to “unity among our people and true love for Israel.”
As the 11th president of Israel, he said he will “do everything to make a significant contribution to our unity, a significant contribution to calming our spirits and strengthening the lofty vision of loving each other.”
Herzog, the son of a former president, was elected by 87 of the Knesset’s 120 members to be the 11th president of Israel, a largely ceremonial post. Miriam Peretz, a social activist and Israel Prize-winning educator who lost two soldier sons in Israel’s wars, was backed by 26 lawmakers in the secret ballot.
Rivlin then phoned his successor to congratulate him.
“I send you my warmest greetings, Mr. President!” Rivlin was quoted saying in a statement. “The title of ‘first citizen’ and the task guarding the character of the State of Israel, particularly at this point in time, are heavy responsibilities. I have no doubt that you will bear them superbly. I am proud to pass on the baton to you.”
Herzog, who was Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief opponent in the 2015 general elections, said he hoped “to be able to work with any government and every prime minister.”
Israel’s president is largely ceremonial but plays a key role in deciding who gets the mandate to form a government following elections. The president also has the power to pardon people and grant clemency, which could become key should Netanyahu be convicted in his ongoing corruption trial.
In the run-up to the vote, Herzog refused to say whether he would consider pardoning Netanyahu, who had not endorsed either candidate.
A well-heeled attorney by profession at one of the country’s top firms (which was founded by his father), Herzog has a family history that is as close as one comes to Israeli royalty. He is the grandson of Israel’s first Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Isaac Herzog, for whom he is named, and the son of former IDF major general and then president Chaim Herzog. His brother Michael is a retired IDF brigadier general. His aunt Suzy was the wife of former foreign minister Abba Eban.