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Isaac Herzog (center left) with Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau (center right) at the 31st annual International March of the Living in 2019. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Isaac Herzog was elected on Wednesay as the 11th president of Israel, winning more than two-thirds of the votes in Israel's parliament, the Knesset.

Why it matters: The president of Israel gives would-be prime ministers the mandate to form a new government, highly important during the ongoing political crisis in Israel, and can also offer pardons — which could become relevant with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on trial for corruption.

Herzog comes from the closest thing Israel has to a political aristocracy. He is the son of Haim Herzog, Israel’s sixth president, the grandson of Isaac Herzog, the first chief Rabbi of Israel, and nephew of Abba Eben, the legendary former foreign minister.

  • Herzog was a member of Knesset from the center-left Labor Party for 20 years and ran against Netanyahu as the party's leader in the 2015 elections, which he lost.
  • In 2018, Herzog left politics and was elected chairman of the Jewish Agency, the world's largest Jewish non-profit. He managed to beat Netanyahu’s preferred candidate by getting the support of the leaders of Jewish organizations in the U.S.

Driving the news: Herzog won in a landslide on Wednesday, getting the votes of 87 members, many of them from the political right, compared to 27 for his opponent, Miriam Peretz.

  • Netanyahu's party didn't nominate a candidate. Netanyahu had previously considered running himself in an attempt to gain immunity from his corruption trial.
  • He didn’t support any candidate, likely taking into consideration the fact that he might need to ask one of them for a pardon down the road.

What he's saying: Herzog said in his victory speech that he would focus his efforts on uniting the Israeli society after the recent inter-communal violence.

  • Herzog said he would also focus on strengthening Israel’s international standing, leading the fight against antisemitism and enhancing the bond between Israel and the Jewish community in the U.S. and around the world.

The big picture: Herzog is experienced in foreign policy and has close connections in the U.S. with both Democrats and Republicans. He has a personal relationship with President Biden and members of his administration.

What’s next: Herzog will take office on July 9, replacing Reuven Rivlin. During the campaign, Herzog avoided questions about whether he would consider pardoning Netanyahu.

Go deeper

Jun 1, 2021 - World

Israel will risk tensions with Biden to block Iran, Netanyahu says

Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday at a ceremony for the new director of Israel's Mossad spy agency that Israel must prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon even at the cost of tensions with the Biden administration.

Why it matters: The U.S. is holding indirect talks with Iran on a mutual return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. Netanyahu, who may be in his final days as prime minister, is a fierce critic of the deal and contends a U.S. return would take the pressure off the Iranian regime.

Jun 1, 2021 - World

Scoop: Democratic senators urge Blinken to press Israel on Gaza reconstruction

Blinken (L) with Netanyahu. Photo: Alex Brandon/Pool/AFP via Getty

Seventeen Democratic senators have written to Secretary of State Tony Blinken urging him to press Israel to allow materials needed for reconstruction and humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. The effort is led by Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

Why it matters: The U.S., Egypt, Qatar and others have committed to rebuilding Gaza — where many homes, health care facilities and schools were destroyed and crucial water infrastructure was damaged in the fighting — as well as providing humanitarian aid. But Israel is threatening to hold up that process.

Jun 1, 2021 - World

Israel to ask U.S. for $1 billion in emergency military aid

Sen. Graham (left) with Netanyahu. Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO via Getty

Israel will ask the U.S. for $1 billion in additional emergency military aid this week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told "Fox and Friends" on Tuesday and Israeli officials confirmed.

Why it matters: Israeli officials say the aid is needed to replenish the Iron Dome aerial defense system and to purchase munitions for the Israeli air force — mainly precision-guided bombs. But several congressional Democrats have argued against providing additional weapons to Israel after at least 256 Palestinians were killed during last month's fighting in the Gaza Strip, mainly by Israeli airstrikes.