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Reuven Rivlin Elected President of Israel
JERUSALEM — Reuven Rivlin was elected president of Israel in a campaign that was fraught with scandal.
Rivlin, former speaker of the Knesset, was elected by his fellow lawmakers on the second round of balloting, in a run-off against popular lawmaker Meir Sheetrit of the HaTnua party. The vote was 63 to 53.
Rivlin, considered a Likud party elder statesman, was one of six candidates running to succeed Shimon Peres in the largely ceremonial post chosen by the Knesset every seven years.
Former Supreme Court judge Dalia Dorner; Nobel Prize-winning chemist Dan Shechtman; and former Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik were eliminated in the first round of voting.
Labor Party lawmaker Binyamin Ben-Eliezer pulled out of the race over the weekend following accusations that he illegally received millions of shekels from private sources and used the money to buy a luxury apartment in Jaffa.
Last month, Energy Minister Silvan Shalom decided to end his bid for the presidency after allegations of sexual impropriety surfaced; the allegations were never substantiated.
Rivlin was first elected to the Knesset in 1988 and twice served as the body’s speaker. A self-identified disciple of Revisionist Zionism founder Zeev Jabotinsky, Rivlin opposes territorial concessions to the Palestinians and wants Israel to retain the West Bank. He has said that he supports giving Israeli citizenship to West Bank Palestinians.
Rivlin drew criticism from Reform and Conservative rabbis for past negative statements about Reform Judaism. Rivlin called Reform Judaism “idol worship” in 1989 and in 2007 would not say whether, as president, he would refer to Reform rabbis by their title.