Reuven Rivlin

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The Honorable
Reuven Rivlin
Reuven Rivlin as the president of Israel.jpg
10th President of Israel
Assumed office
24 July 2014
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Preceded by Shimon Peres
Speaker of the Knesset
In office
10 March 2009 – 22 February 2013
Preceded by Dalia Itzik
Succeeded by Yuli-Yoel Edelstein
In office
28 February 2003 – 28 March 2006
Preceded by Avraham Burg
Succeeded by Dalia Itzik
Minister of Communications
In office
7 March 2001 – 28 February 2003
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Preceded by Binyamin Ben-Eliezer
Succeeded by Ariel Sharon
Personal details
Born (1939-09-09) 9 September 1939 (age 77)
Mandatory Palestine
Political party Likud
Spouse(s) Nechama Rivlin
Children 4
Alma mater Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Religion Jewish
Presidential styles of
Reuven "Ruvi" Rivlin
Emblem of Israel dark blue full.svg
Reference style Honorable President
כבוד הנשיא
Spoken style Honorable President
כבוד הנשיא
Alternative style Your Honor

Reuven "Ruvi" Rivlin (Hebrew: רְאוּבֵן "רוּבִי" רִיבְלִין, [ʁeʔuˈven ʁivˈlin]; born 9 September 1939) is an Israeli politician and lawyer who has been President of Israel since 2014. He is a member of the Likud party. Rivlin was Minister of Communications from 2001 to 2003 and subsequently served as Speaker of the Knesset from 2003 to 2006 and again from 2009 to 2013. On 10 June 2014, he was elected as President of Israel.[1]

Rivlin is a strong supporter of minority rights, particularly those of the Arab citizens of Israel.[2] He supports the one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rivlin is fluent in Arabic.[3][4]


Reuven Rivlin was born in Mandatory Palestine to the Rivlin family, descendant of students of the Vilna Gaon, the son of Rachel "Ray" Rivlin and Yosef Yoel Rivlin, who created the first Hebrew edition of the Koran[5] and who was a candidate for third president of Israel.[6] The Rivlin family has lived in Jerusalem since 1809.

Rivlin attended Gymnasia Rehavia high school and served in the Intelligence Corps of the Israel Defense Forces. During the Six Day War, he fought with the Jerusalem Brigade and accompanied the Paratroopers Brigade as an intelligence officer. After military service he studied law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.[7]

Before entering politics, Rivlin served as legal advisor of the Beitar Jerusalem Sports Association, manager of the Beitar football team and chairman of the association; member of the Jerusalem City Council; member of the El Al Board; Chairman of the Israel Institute for Occupational Safety and Hygiene; a board member of the Khan Theater and board member of the Israel Museum.[7]

He is married to Nechama Rivlin, and has four children.[8] Rivlin has been a vegetarian since the late 1960s.[9] Rivlin has been a supporter of the Beitar Jerusalem football club [10] since the age of seven, when he attended his first game.[8]

Political career[edit]

He was first elected to the 12th Knesset in 1988, and served as Likud chairman from 1988 to 1993. He lost his seat in the 1992 elections, but returned to the Knesset following the 1996 elections. Reelected in 1999, he was appointed Minister of Communications in March 2001, serving until February 2003, when he was elected Knesset Speaker following the 2003 elections. During his term as speaker, he was criticized for breaking the tradition of political neutrality of the post; he was one of Ariel Sharon's harshest critics regarding the disengagement plan, and had a public confrontation with Aharon Barak, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, concerning the court's authority to declare legislation illegal.[11]

Rivlin was reelected in 2006 and 2009. He ran in the 2007 election for President as the Likud candidate. He withdrew after the first round of voting when it became clear that Kadima MK Shimon Peres had sufficiently broad support to inevitably win in a run-off. In the 2014 presidential election, Rivlin defeated Meir Sheetrit in a run-off.

On 30 March 2009, the Knesset voted Knesset Member Rivlin as speaker with a majority of 90 votes of the 120.[12]

For his first official visit as Knesset Speaker, he chose the Arab-Israeli town of Umm el-Fahm, just south of the Galilee. He was accompanied by MKs Uri Orbach (The Jewish Home) and Afu Agbariyah (Hadash), a resident of the city.[13][14]

10th President of the State of Israel[edit]

Swearing-in ceremony of President Reuven Rivlin of Israel
President of Greece Prokopis Pavlopoulos and President of Israel Reuven Rivlin in March 2016

Rivlin was elected as Israel's 10th president on 10 June 2014 receiving the support of 63 MKs in a runoff vote against MK Meir Sheetrit. In his bid to become President, he won support from both Arab legislators who appreciated his courtesy, and from right-wingers like Naftali Bennett and Danny Danon, who join him in a desire to make the West Bank a part of Israel proper.[15] Rivlin was sworn in on 24 July 2014 replacing Shimon Peres.[16] Upon his election as the 10th president, he immediately ceased being a member of the Israeli Parliament.

On March 25, 2015 Rivlin, in his role as president, officially chartered Benjamin Netanyahu with the assignment of forming a new government following elections the previous week. In his remarks during the ceremony, Rivlin noted that the first priority of the new government should be to mend the frayed relationship Israel's government has with the United States, and he expressed his disapproval of Netanyahu's election day exhortation that Arab voters were being bused to polling booths by NGO's and were voting "in droves." “One who is afraid of votes in a ballot box will eventually see stones thrown in the streets,” said Rivlin. Other critical issues he recommended the new government address included establishing greater stability to avoid early elections and “healing the wounds, mending the painful rifts, which have gaped open in the past years, and widened further in the course of this recent election.”[17]

In July 2015, following Rivlin's condemnation of the firebombing of a Palestinian home by suspected Jewish extremists that resulted in the death of a Palestinian toddler, Rivlin received death threats. Rivlin labelled those who committed the violence as "terrorists," lamenting that his own people had "chosen the path of terror," and that Israel was lax in confronting Jewish religious terrorism and Jewish extremists.[18]

Views and opinions[edit]

Reuven Rivilin with Israel's Presidential Standard.
Reuven Rivlin with Bogdan Borusewicz during his official visit to Poland (2014)

Although considered a nationalist and hawkish on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Rivlin is a supporter of minority rights, particularly those of the Arab-Israelis. As speaker of the Knesset, Rivlin made his first official visit to the Arab-Israeli city of Umm el-Fahm, often portrayed as a locus of anti-state and pro-Palestine sentiment and agitation.[19]

In June 2010, Rivlin ignored calls to remove Balad MK Haneen Zoabi for joining the Gaza flotilla. Rivlin's actions in defending the parliamentary rights of Zoabi were criticized by some but others praised his courage in defending Israeli democracy.[20] The same year, a group of rabbis on government payroll called on Jewish Israelis to not rent apartments to non-Jews. Rivlin protested this declaration, saying, "In my opinion, their statement shames the Jewish people. If such a thing were said in relation to Jews anywhere on the globe, a hue and cry would be raised in Israel on the need to stand up against anti-Semitism." When asked about conditions for African refugees in Israel Rivlin stated, "As a democrat and a Jew, I have a hard time with concentration camps, where people are warehoused." [21] In 2013 Rivlin slammed Beitar fans who chanted anti-Arab slogans when two Arab players were added to the team.[22] Rivlin told a gathering of academics: "Israeli society is sick and it is our duty to treat this disease."[23] In November 2014 Rivlin cancelled a scheduled performance of Amir Benayoun after the singer released an anti-Arab song.[24][25] In 2016, Rivlin forbid Balad MK Jamal Zahalka to enter the presidential residence ("Beit HaNassi"), after Zahalka and other MKs of Balad honored Palestinian terrorists who were killed while attacking Israeli civilians.[26]

In 2000 Rivlin supported legislation that would make it illegal for women to wear prayer shawls. The law was not passed but Rivlin's position on the issue led to estrangement with his American-Israeli feminist cousin, Lilly Rivlin.[27] In 2008, the Knesset choir sang the "Hatikva" at a welcoming ceremony without the female members of the choir. Rivlin admitted that as Knesset speaker he was careful not to invite women to sing so as not to create a conflict with the Haredim." [28]

Rivlin has voiced support for a version of a one-state solution and remains a staunch supporter of Jewish settlement in the West Bank.[29] In 2010, he said that he "would rather accept Palestinians as Israeli citizens than divide Israel and the West Bank in a future two-state peace solution".[30]

According to Rivlin, Israel's fight is not with the Palestinian people or Islam but against murderous terrorism.[31] He pointed out that Palestinians could not be expected to accept a two-state solution where "one state is an invincible superpower and the other is sub-autonomous,"[32] while declaring that "West Bank settlements are as Israeli as Tel Aviv."[33] He told Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, "Israel is working and trying to bring an end to the tragedy with the Palestinians. We must respect the idea (of a Palestinian state) because they're here, and they must recognize the idea that the Jewish nation has returned to its homeland. These are difficult challenges when there is no trust between nations."[34] Although secular himself, Rivlin has been critical of non-Orthodox movements in Judaism. In 1989 Rivlin referred to Reform Jews as "idol worshippers" and refused to call Reform Jewish rabbis by their title.[35][36] Prior to becoming President, he opposed granting equal status to Reform or Conservative Judaism.[37] In 2014, Rivlin said that if non-Orthodox conversion standards were adopted, Jewish status would be based on "a civic definition rather than a religious definition," echoing a Knesset speech he gave in 2006 when he declared:”“I have no doubt, and my positions are known, that the status of Judaism according to halachah (Jewish law) is what has kept us going for 3,800 years.”[38] In November 2014, however Rivlin welcomed at his residence over 50 Reform leaders on the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and told them, "We are one family and the connection between all Jews, all over the world, is very important to the State of Israel."[39] In 2015, he did not allow a Conservative rabbi to officiate at a bar mitzvah service at his residence for disabled children who attended a program run by the Conservative movement,[40] but later hosted representatives of the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Jewish communities for a joint study session at the President's Residence.[41]

Rivlin once campaigned for Israel to recognize the Armenian Genocide.[42] In 2012, he said “It is our moral duty to remember and remind of the tragedy that befell the Armenian people, who lost more than a million of its sons during the First World War, and we must not make this a political issue. I am aware of the sensitivity of this issue. But let us be clear: This is not an accusation of Turkey today or of the current Turkish government.”[43] As president he has been less vocal on this issue. Concerned about the negative reaction of Turkey if the president signed the petition, unnamed officials of the Foreign Ministry welcomed what they called Rivlin's "statesmanship."[44]


  1. ^ "ynet מבית"ר ירושלים לבית הנשיא: מי אתה רובי ריבלין? - חדשות". Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  2. ^ "Israel's democracy: Under siege too". 2010-06-17. Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  3. ^ Marsha B. Cohen (2014-06-10). "9 Facts About Israeli President Reuven Rivlin « LobeLog". Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  4. ^ Fay, Greer (2014-10-27). "Rivlin hails Jordan's King Abdullah as 'brave' leader who wants peace - Israel News - Jerusalem Post". Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  5. ^ Marcus, Yoel (2014-06-11). "The noble history of the Rivlin clan - Features - Israel News". Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  6. ^ "The Noble History of Reuven Rivlin's Family » - The Online Voice of Torah Jewry". 2014-06-11. Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  7. ^ a b The 10th President of the State of Israel
  8. ^ a b "Who is Ruby Rivlin, Israel's President Elect". Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  9. ^ "Knesset: Animals don't have legal rights". Haaretz. Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  10. ^ "Israel's Presidential Elections: The Candidates - Inside Israel - News - Arutz Sheva". Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  11. ^ "Knesset Speaker backs bill to overturn laws struck down by Israel's Supreme Court". Haaretz. 8 April 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  12. ^ Somfalvi, Attila (March 31, 2009). "Netanyahu names Likud ministers". Ynet. 
  13. ^ Fendel, Hillel (April 19, 2009). "Likud and Jewish Home MKs Visit Umm el-Fahm". 
  14. ^ "Knesset speaker: Umm al-Fahm is an inseparable part of Israel". Haaretz. April 19, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Israel's One-State Reality". 2014-11-17. Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  16. ^ Arens, Moshe (2014-06-10). "Reuven Rivlin is elected Israel's 10th president - National - Israel News". Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  17. ^ Netanyahu Told to Mend Ties With Washington The New York Times, 25 March 2015
  18. ^ Threats against Rivlin wish him fate similar to Sharon, Rabin The Times of Israel, 1 Aug 2015
  19. ^ Klein, Amy (2013-01-24). "The Rebranding of Umm al-Fahm". Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  20. ^ "Under siege too". The Economist. Economist Group. 17 June 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 
  21. ^ "Knesset Speaker: Racist rabbi's letter shames the Jewish people". Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  22. ^ Beck, Jonathan (2013-01-27). "Knesset speaker Rivlin slams Beitar soccer fans' anti-Muslim racism". Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  23. ^ Sales, Ben (2014-10-23). "Israel's Rivlin seeks to cure 'disease' of racism | Jewish Telegraphic Agency". Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  24. ^ "Reuven Rivlin Cancels Appearance by Israeli Singer After Anti-Arab Song –". 2014-11-25. Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  25. ^ Beck, Jonathan (2014-11-25). "President cancels singer's gig over 'racist' song". Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  26. ^,7340,L-4770470,00.html
  27. ^ "After Vote, Spotlight Shifts to Reuven Rivlin –". 2015-03-18. Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  28. ^ "'Hatikva' belongs to women, too". Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  29. ^ "Report: Hawkish new Israel president ready to meet Abbas | Maan News Agency". Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  30. ^ Zrahiya, Zvi (2010). "Israel official: Accepting Palestinians into Israel better than two states". Retrieved 12 February 2011. 
  31. ^ "Reuven Rivlin sworn is as 10th president of Israel". IANS. 24 July 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  32. ^ "Israeli politics: The left's Likudnik". The Economist. 29 August 2015. Retrieved 30 August 2015. 
  33. ^ "Rivlin: West Bank settlements are as Israeli as Tel Aviv". Jerusalem Post. 1 September 2015. 
  34. ^ Eichner, Itamar. "Africa's Golda Meir visits Israel." Ynetnews. 8 June 2016. 8 June 2016.
  35. ^ Sales, Ben (2014-06-02). "Reuven Rivlin, Israeli presidential front-runner, champions pluralism in politics but not Judaism | Jewish Telegraphic Agency". Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  36. ^ "Reuven Rivlin Elected President of Israel". 2014-06-10. Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  37. ^ Beck, Jonathan (2014-11-12). "Rivlin greets Reform Movement leaders as 'family'". Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  38. ^ Reuven Rivlin, Israeli presidential front-runner, champions pluralism in politics but not Judaism Jewish Journal, 2 June 2014
  39. ^ "Reuven Rivlin Tells Reform Leaders 'We're One Family' –". 2014-11-12. Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  40. ^ Rivlin invites non-Orthodox rabbis to his home in bid to mend rift Haaretz, 16 July 2015
  41. ^ [1] Times of Israel, 23 July 2015
  42. ^ "Knesset Speaker working to boost recognition of Armenian genocide". Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  43. ^ "Rivlin: We Cannot Ignore the Armenian Genocide - Inside Israel - News - Arutz Sheva". 2012-06-13. Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  44. ^ Beck, Jonathan (2014-12-05). "Rivlin backtracks on Armenian genocide recognition". Retrieved 2015-03-27. 

External links[edit]

Video clip about Reuven Rivlin
Political offices
Preceded by
Avraham Burg
Speaker of the Knesset
Succeeded by
Dalia Itzik
Preceded by
Dalia Itzik
Speaker of the Knesset
Succeeded by
Yuli-Yoel Edelstein
Preceded by
Shimon Peres
President of Israel