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.