The election is over: On Wednesday, Yitzhak (Isaac) Herzog (60) was elected by the Knesset to succeed Reuven Rivlin as president of Israel. The former leader of the Awoda Labor Party won by 87 votes to 26 against teacher and activist Miriam Peretz (67). Herzog will take office on July 9.
Isaac Herzog, who has headed the Jewish Agency since 2018, will be Israel’s eleventh president, following in his father’s footsteps: Chaim Herzog was the country’s sixth president from 1983 to 1993. His grandfather also made his mark in Israel’s history: Yitzhak Halevi-Herzog came from Ireland and was Israel’s first chief rabbi.
Herzog, who attended an elite Jewish school in the United States for a few years in his teenage years (his father was Israel’s ambassador to the UN from 1975 to 1978), studied law at Tel Aviv University after his military service in the secret service unit 8200. Initially, he then joined his father’s law firm, but he was also drawn to politics.
In 1999, he became secretary of state to then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak. From 2000 to 2003, he headed Israel’s anti-drug agency. From 2003 to 2018, he sat in the Knesset for the Labor Party, during which time he also held three ministerial posts: that of tourism, that of social affairs, and that of diaspora affairs and the fight against anti-Semitism.
In 2014, Herzog’s Awoda entered into an electoral alliance with Tzipi Livni’s Ha-Tnu’a party; the list was called the Zionist Union. In the process, Herzog positioned himself as a candidate for prime minister in the March 2015 election. However, this plan failed. Now, seven years later, he has made it to the head of the state.
Isaac Herzog is married; his wife Michal is a lawyer. They live in Zahala, a suburb of Tel Aviv. The couple has three sons.