Arutz Sheva Interviews
MKs Welcome 'Dignified' President Rivlin

MK Danon and Lipman congratulate Rivlin over victory, note he 'believes our rights to Israel, and that there should be no Palestine.'

Yoni Kempinski, Ari Yashar ,

Rivlin toasts MKs during Knesset victory spee
Rivlin toasts MKs during Knesset victory spee

Former Knesset speaker MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) celebrated his victory in the presidential election on Tuesday by immediately going to the Western Wall (Kotel), to pray and give thanks for the achievement.

He also visited his father's grave in Jerusalem's ancient Mount of Olives cemetery, as he promised to do immediately following his election after two rounds of votes in the Knesset.

Meanwhile, his victory was welcomed by MKs Danny Danon (Likud) and MK Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid), who shared their excitement with Arutz Sheva.

"It is very important that a Likud candidate, who believes in our rights to the land of Israel, who believes that there should not be a Palestinian state, is now the president of Israel," said Danon, who is also the Deputy Defense Minister.

Rivlin was favored as a candidate by most nationalist MKs - including Danon - due to those stances; indeed, he was one of the most vocal opponents of the 2005 Disengagement Plan, which saw thousands of Jews expelled from Gaza and northern Samaria. However, he has also faced criticism from some on the Right - most notably Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman - for his markedly lenient stance toward extremist Arab MKs.

For his part, Lipman remarked "it was a very dignified, royal type of day." He assessed that Rivlin "will be a very dignified president, both internally in Israel, and throughout the world and the Diaspora."

Other MKs also congratulated the new president.

"The Knesset made the best choice for the Presidential position today," said Deputy Minister of Education Avi Wurtzman (Jewish Home). "This is an exciting and emotional day for me as well as for many who have waited a long time to see the country led by a man most worthy of representing the… love of the land, the nation, the state and democracy."

Coalition Chairman MK Yariv Levine (Likud) hailed Rivlin's election as a victory for "the nation of Israel".

"The nation of Israel won a nationalistic President of the people who will faithfully represent the Likud party for the next ten years, and from now on he will faithfully serve the State of Israel and all of its citizens," Levine said.

For his part, Rivlin has promised to be a president "of the people", and pledged to "rehabilitate" the position after the presidential campaign was marred by what has been termed a dirty election campaign, in which several candidates had charges brought again them over alleged incidents from many years ago. 

Just days before the vote, Labor party candidate Binyamin Ben-Eliezer was forced to resign amid accusations of corruption, that surfaced mysteriously just a few days before the poll.

Prior to Ben-Eliezer bowing out, Rivlin's fellow Likud MK Silvan Shalom quit the race after allegations of sexual assault were lodged against him. Many observers were extremely skeptical at the time, considering the circumstances and timing of the sudden complaint - which came 15 years after the alleged incident had occurred.

A police investigation subsequently cleared Shalom, but he left the race shortly afterwards.

Reuven Rivlin at the Kotel Flash 90