Reuven "Ruvi" Rivlin (Hebrew: רְאוּבֵן "רוּבִי"
רִיבְלִין, [ʁeʔuˈven ʁivˈlin] ( listen);
born 9 September 1939) is an Israeli politician and lawyer serving as
the 10th and current
President of Israel
President of Israel since 2014. He is a member of
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
President of Israel.
Rivlin argues for a Greater
Israel that would embrace all people and
give the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza full Israeli
citizenship. He is also a strong supporter of minority rights,
particularly for Arab Israelis. He supports the one-state
solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Rivlin is fluent in
2 Political career
3 President of Israel
4 Views and opinions
6 External links
Reuven Rivlin was born in
Jerusalem during the Mandate era to the
Rivlin family, which has lived in
Jerusalem since 1809. He is a
descendant of students of the Vilna Gaon. His parents were Rachel
"Ray" Rivlin and Yosef Yoel Rivlin, who created the first Hebrew
edition of the Koran and who was a candidate for third president of
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.
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
He is married to Nechama Rivlin, and has four children. Rivlin has
been a vegetarian since the late 1960s. Rivlin has been a
supporter of the Beitar
Jerusalem football club  since the age of
seven, when he attended his first game.
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. Re-elected
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.
Rivlin was re-elected 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
Shimon Peres had
sufficiently broad support to inevitably win in a run-off.
On 30 March 2009, the Knesset elected Rivlin as Speaker with a
majority of 90 votes out of 120.
For his first official visit as Knesset Speaker, he chose the
Arab-Israeli town of Umm al-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.
Since 1999, Rivlin has employed Rivka Ravitz, a Haredi woman, first as
his bureau chief and campaign advisor, and, upon his election to
President, as his chief of staff. Ravitz is credited with managing
Rivlin's successful campaigns for Knesset Speaker and President of
Israel, and often accompanies him on his local appearances, as well as
visits to foreign heads of state.
President of Israel
Swearing-in ceremony of President
Reuven Rivlin of Israel
Prokopis Pavlopoulos and President of Israel
Reuven Rivlin in March 2016
Rivlin was elected as the 10th
President of Israel
President of Israel 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
Naftali Bennett and Danny Danon, who join him in a desire to make
the West Bank a part of
Rivlin was sworn in on 24 July 2014, succeeding Shimon Peres. Upon
his election as President, he immediately ceased being a member of the
On March 25, 2015, Rivlin, in his role as President, officially
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 NGOs 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
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
Views and opinions
Reuven Rivlin with
Bogdan Borusewicz during his official visit to
Reuven Rivlin, with Michal Ansky,
Naftali Bennett and
Ofra Strauss at
the Jasmine businesswomen's convention for promotion of small and
medium-sized enterprises, Israel, 15 December 2014
Rivlin with U.S. President Donald Trump, 22 May 2017
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 al-Fahm, often portrayed as a locus of anti-state and
pro-Palestine sentiment and agitation.
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. 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
When asked about conditions for African refugees in
stated, "As a democrat and a Jew, I have a hard time with
concentration camps, where people are warehoused." In 2013, Rivlin
slammed Beitar fans who chanted anti-Arab slogans when two Arab
players were added to the team. Rivlin told a gathering of
academics: "Israeli society is sick, and it is our duty to treat this
In November 2014, Rivlin cancelled a scheduled performance of Amir
Benayoun after the singer released an anti-Arab song. In 2016,
Rivlin forbid Balad MK
Jamal Zahalka to enter the presidential
residence ("Beit HaNassi"), after Zahalka and other MKs of Balad met
with the families of Palestinians who were killed while attacking
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. 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 Orthodox
Rivlin has voiced support for a version of a one-state solution, and
remains a staunch supporter of Jewish settlement in the West Bank.
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
Reuven Rivlin with actress Gal Gadot, Los Angeles, November 2017
According to Rivlin, Israel's fight is not with the Palestinian people
or Islam, but against murderous terrorism. 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", while declaring that, "West Bank settlements are
as Israeli as Tel Aviv". He told Liberian President Ellen Johnson
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."
Although not Orthodox 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. Prior to becoming President, he opposed
granting equal status to Reform or Conservative Judaism. 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."
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." 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, but later hosted representatives of the
Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Jewish communities for a joint
study session at the President's Residence.
Rivlin once campaigned for
Israel to recognize the Armenian
Genocide. 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." 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
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