Rivlin sworn in as Israel's president

Rivlin sworn in as Israel
# 25 July 2014 03:20 (UTC +04:00)

In his inauguration speech, Rivlin, a veteran Likud lawmaker, vowed to continue the war against "terror" and to protect "the character of the state of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state."

"We are not fighting against the Palestinian people, nor are we at war with Islam," the 75-year-old leader said. "We are fighting against terrorism."

Rivlin took over from Shimon Peres, 90, who lamented that in his last days of presidency "I would be called upon, once more, to comfort bereaved families."

"Israel is not the enemy of the people of Gaza," he was quoted by Yediot Ahronot as having said.

Rivlin was elected by the Knesset earlier last month as the self-proclaimed Jewish state's tenth president after he defeated the Hatnuah Party's Meir Sheetrit by 63 to 53 votes in a run-off poll.

Born September 9, 1939, Rivlin, a lawyer by profession, has served as Knesset member eight times. From 2001 to 2003, he served as communications minister.

In 2009, Rivlin was elected Knesset speaker, winning 90 votes out of 120.

He is known for his staunch opposition to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the so-called two-state solution. He once said that he "would rather accept Palestinians as Israeli citizens than a future two-state peace solution."

The post of Israeli president is a ceremonial one, generally limited to accepting the credentials of foreign diplomats, receiving foreign guests and granting amnesties.

The president also mandates the party that wins a majority of Knesset seats with forming a government.

The swearing-in ceremony came as Israel is engaged in a crippling military onslaught against the Gaza Strip with the ostensible aim of halting Palestinian rocket fire.

Israel's offensive has left at least 797 Palestinians dead, mostly civilians, since it began more than two weeks ago.

Israel's ongoing operation "Protective Edge" is the self-proclaimed Jewish state's third major offensive against the densely-populated Gaza Strip, which is home to some 1.8 million Palestinians, within the last six years.

In 2008/9, over 1500 Palestinians – the vast majority of them civilians – were killed in Israel's three-week-long "Operation Cast Lead."