Israel’s outgoing president Shimon Peres congratulated his successor, Reuven Rivlin, on winning the post Tuesday, offering advice for holding the largely ceremonial office along the way.
“With this role comes great responsibility; you will have to consider every statement, every action, but you will do so successfully because at your core, you are warm and good,” Peres told Rivlin over the phone.
Rivlin won the support of 63 Knesset members earlier in the day after two rounds of voting, securing the post. He will be sworn in as Israel’s 10th president in late July as Peres steps down after seven years in office.
“You deserve this honor, and I’m glad of it,” Peres told the president elect.
Peres added that he was eagerly looking forward to working together with Rivlin and said he and his staff would do all they can in order to assist Rivlin in swiftly adjusting to his new role.
“In the role of president you are not a ruler, but a servant,” Peres said.
“I cannot envision a higher cause then serving the people faithfully, honestly and in good hope, and you are equipped with all these features. I wish you luck and I am sure you will succeed in all your ways and in your future, which is now tied to the future of Israel.”
A choked-up Rivlin proceeded to thank Peres and said he would be honored to serve as president.
“I know it will be very difficult for me fill your big shoes, the ninth president of Israel Shimon Peres,” the incoming president said.
“It will not be easy to be the tenth president after your term, you have done so much for the benefit of humanity, thank you,” he said.
Peres, 90, has stood at the forefront of Israeli politics for 65 years, demonstrating resilience in the face of innumerable challenges.
A Nobel laureate and elder statesman who has carved out a reputation as a peacemaker, Peres has taken advantage of his largely ceremonial post to push a political message of peace, putting him at odds with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Rivlin, a Likud hawk and former Knesset speaker, beat out Hatnua candidate Meir Sheetrit, a veteran MK from the center of the political spectrum.
Rivlin was considered the favorite coming into the race after he secured the public support of Netanyahu several weeks ago.
At a toast following the announcement, Rivlin pledged to abandon party politics and become “a man of the nation.” The President’s Residence, which he will shortly occupy, is “the house of all Israelis,” he said.
The president-elect briefly put on a skullcap and recited the peace blessing. He also turned to Sheetrit during his address and said, “What a fight you put up.”
“Citizens of Israel,” Rivlin said in closing. “I thank you for your trust. Long live Israeli democracy, long live the state of Israel.”