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Israel hands presidency from peacemaker to opponent of Palestinian state

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Reuven RivlinWith today's presidential vote, Israel is poised to pass the largely ceremonial position from the hands of a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and champion of a Palestinian state to those of a politician who supports annexing the West Bank.

Israel’s parliament elected Reuven Rivlin, a legislator from the ruling Likud party, to replace Shimon Peres, who has been a staple on the Israeli political scene since its founding and shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.

Mr. Peres spent the past seven years of his decades-long political career expanding the presidency, which has virtually no executive powers, into that of Israel’s top diplomat. For the past several years, he has been a dovish counterweight to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, becoming the international community's preferred interlocutor. He even conducted backchannel talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2011.


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