The two candidates are epitomes of the two halves of Israeli society: Miriam Peretz whose family immigrated from Morocco when she was 10, and Yitzak Herzog, scion of the only political dynasty in the country’s short history.
Peretz, an educator, who lost two sons in battle, is distinguished for giving articulate voice to a message of strength and unity drawn from grief.
Yitzak Herzog, latterly Chairman of the Jewish Agency, is richly experienced in high political, public and diplomatic office. He grew up in the home of Israel’s sixth president, his father. His grandfather was first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel after holding that post in Ireland.
The 120 Knesset members are holding a secret ballot on Wednesday to decide which of the two takes office in July at the end of Reuven Rivlin’s five-year term.
The candidate winning a 61-vote majority is elected. If neither reaches that figure, a second vote takes place for the highest number, and a third round in the event of a tie.