Biden congratulates Herzog on presidential win

US president says Israeli president-elect has demonstrated unwavering commitment to strengthening Israel’s security, looks ahead to Rivlin visit; Putin also sends greeting

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Vice President Joe Biden speaks to the Saban Forum in Washington, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Vice President Joe Biden speaks to the Saban Forum in Washington, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

US President Joe Biden congratulated Isaac Herzog on being picked as the next president of Israel Wednesday and said he looked forward to hosting his predecessor at the White House in the coming weeks.

“On behalf of the people of the United States, I extend my warm congratulations to Isaac Herzog on his election to serve as the 11th President of the State of Israel,” Biden said in a statement Wednesday.

“Throughout his career, President-elect Herzog has demonstrated his unwavering commitment to strengthening Israel’s security, advancing dialogue, and building bridges across the global Jewish community,” the president continued. “I am confident that under his presidency, the partnership between Israel and the United States will continue to grow and deepen.”

Biden’s relationship with Herzog, a former head of the dovish Labor party and leader of the Jewish Agency for Israel, spans decades. They met several times when Biden was vice president and Herzog led the Knesset opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition.

When Biden was elected president in November, Herzog lauded him “for the statesmanly compass that guided him and the impressive record of his support for the State of Israel and the fight against anti-Semitism.”

Biden thanked Rivlin and said he looked forward to hosting him in Washington “to honor his dedication to the enduring partnership and the close friendship between our two nations.”

President Reuven Rivlin, left, with then US Vice President Joe Biden at the President’s residence in Jerusalem on March 9, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Rivlin’s invitation to the US was extended last week by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, as he visited the region to help shore up a ceasefire that ended the 11-day war between Israel and terror groups in Gaza.

No date for the trip has been set.

Both Biden and Herzog trace ancestry to Ireland.

Congratulations for Herzog also came from Russian President Vladimir Putin who said in a statement from the Kremlin he hopes Herzog will further build on the existing ties between Israel and his country.

President-elect Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal at the Knesset on June 2, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“Russia and Israel enjoy friendly relations,” Putin said. “I hope that your work as head of state will contribute to the further development of multifaceted and constructive bilateral cooperation, including interaction in international affairs. This undoubtedly meets our peoples’ fundamental interests.”

Herzog was elected president in a landslide vote Wednesday, winning support from 87 of 120 Knesset members, who choose the holder of the largely ceremonial role in a secret ballot. He beat out social activist and Israel Prize-winning educator Miriam Peretz.

Herzog is slated to replace President Reuven Rivlin, whose seven-year term ends on July 9.

A well-heeled attorney by profession at one of the country’s top firms, Herzog has a family history that is as close as one comes to Israeli royalty. He is the grandson of Israel’s first Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Isaac Herzog, for whom he is named, and the son of former IDF major general and then president Chaim Herzog. His brother Michael is a retired IDF brigadier general. His aunt Suzy was the wife of former foreign minister Abba Eban.

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