Israel's Parliament Elects Peres President

83-year-old former PM vows to unite country
By Sophie Goldstein,  Newser User
Posted Jun 13, 2007 12:28 PM CDT
Veteran Israeli politician and Nobel laureate Shimon Peres, right, is congratulated by parliament speaker and acting President Dalia Itzik, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, left, as they raise...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The Knesset voted in Vice Premier Shimon Peres as president of Israel today, after his two rivals for the office dropped out. Peres, a former PM and Nobel laureate, says his job is to unite Israeli society and "expel despair from our midst." He follows Moshe Katsav, who stepped down from the office following rape allegations.

The octogenarian Peres was a protege of David Ben-Gurion in Israel's infancy, and an old lion of the Israeli left; after years in the Labor party, he joined Ariel Sharon's right-leaning Kadima in 2005. He faced a tough road to the presidency, which he lost in the last election, but an endorsement from PM Olmert sealed the deal.