Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and president-elect Reuven Rivlin will meet Wednesday as the two Likud lawmakers attempt to set aside a rivalry ahead of Rivlin’s ascension to the president’s office.
The meeting will be the first between the two since Rivlin beat out Hatnua candidate Meir Sheetrit, a veteran MK from the center of the political spectrum, in two rounds of voting Tuesday, following a tumultuous campaign.
Rivlin was considered the favorite coming into the race after he secured the grudging public support of Netanyahu several weeks ago.
Netanyahu’s endorsement of Rivlin ended a period of hearsay and controversy swirling around the presidential race. Last month, Hebrew media reported that Netanyahu was aiming to postpone the elections for up to six months, during which time he could push through a law abolishing the presidential office, apparently because he wanted to block Rivlin.
This idea was quickly shot down by Finance Minister Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid, a key coalition partner.
After securing the win, Rivlin insisted there was no “bad blood” between him and the prime minister, and that he hoped to work closely with Netanyahu throughout his presidential term.
Rivlin added that he was “not angry at anyone.”
In a bid to lay to rest the rivalry, Netanyahu congratulated Rivlin and said he would work with him.
“I know you will do all you can as president and I promise that I as prime minister … will do the same with you,” he said.
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.
Rivlin later visited the Western Wall and the grave of his father, who unsuccessfully ran to be Israel’s third president, on the Mount of Olives.
Netanyahu also praised Rivlin at a toast for Rivlin following the victory, calling him “a man of Jerusalem and a man of the land of Israel.”
Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report