Isaac Herzog, a scion of a prominent Zionist family, will succeed Reuven Rivlin as the country's 11th president – a largely ceremonial position meant to forge national unity and serve as the country’s moral compass.

Herzog's inauguration comes less than a month after Israel swore in a new government under PM Naftali Bennett.
Herzog's inauguration comes less than a month after Israel swore in a new government under PM Naftali Bennett. (Reuters Archive)

Israel's parliament is set to inaugurate Isaac Herzog as the nation's president, a largely ceremonial position whose purpose is to forge national unity and serve as the country's moral compass.

The inauguration ceremony on Wednesday at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem is typically conducted with grand pomp: honour guards in dress uniforms, red carpet, mounted police escort and a swearing in on a Bible, followed by the blowing of rams' horns by military rabbis.

Herzog, scion of a prominent Zionist family, will succeed Reuven Rivlin as Israel's 11th president and is to hold office for a single seven-year term.

His father, Chaim Herzog, served as president in the 1980s after a term as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, and his grandfather, Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, was the country's first chief rabbi. 

His uncle, Abba Eban, served as foreign minister and ambassador to the United Nations and United States.

"The truth is that I am a little envious of you," Rivlin said in a letter to Herzog published on Twitter. 

"In a short while you will discover what a great and wonderful privilege you have" to be president of all of Israel's various communities — Jews and Arabs, religious and secular, young and old.

READ MORE: Isaac Herzog Israel's new president after Knesset vote

Who is Herzog?

Herzog, 60, was elected to the presidency by the Knesset last month. He had previously served as head of the Labor Party and head of the opposition in parliament. 

After leaving politics in 2018, he served as head of the Jewish Agency, a nonprofit organisation that works closely with the Israeli government to promote Jewish immigration to Israel and to serve Jewish communities overseas.

Taking office at a time of deep divisions in Israeli society, Herzog said upon his election that he intends to be "the president of everyone" and work to preserve Israel's democracy.

While most of the office's function is to receive foreign dignitaries and other ceremonial roles, the president has the power to grant pardons. That could become part of the national agenda if former PM Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges, is ever convicted.

Netanyahu's ouster

Herzog also is responsible for selecting a political party leader to form a governing coalition and serve as prime minister after parliamentary elections — a task Rivlin has done five times while in office, most recently after the March 23 parliamentary election.

Herzog's inauguration comes less than a month after Israel swore in a new government under Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who struck a coalition agreement with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. 

Netanyahu was ousted from office after a 12-year stint as prime minister and now serves as opposition leader.

READ MORE:Israel's Bennet and Lapid reach coalition deal to oust Netanyahu

Source: AP