President Shimon Peres telephoned President- elect Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday to congratulate him after the announcement of the election results, telling him that he would be happy to help him transition from the Knesset to the President’s Residence.
If Rivlin has his way, the presidential mansion will be a workplace only and not somewhere to call home for the next seven years. He has said on several occasions that he wants to remain in his own apartment and make the less-than-10-minute drive to work every morning. This arrangement would require, however, a considerable security upgrade.
Peres, who refused a request by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to extend his tenure, told Rivlin that he was happy to transfer the role of president to him. He was doing so wholeheartedly and with goodwill, he said, adding that he was certain Rivlin would acquit himself well.
“I’m filling very large shoes,” conceded Rivlin.
Peres responded that Rivlin was entirely deserving of the position. He said it demanded a lot of responsibility and that every issue had to be weighed carefully, but he expressed confidence in Rivlin’s ability to succeed.
Peres added that he was completely at Rivlin’s disposal during the transition period.
“I am at the end of a seven-year period as president of the state, and it has been a great privilege to serve the nation,” he said.
Repeating one of his frequently uttered maxims, Peres counseled Rivlin: “Your role is not to rule, but to serve. There is nothing more rewarding than serving the nation.”
Rivlin responded that it would be difficult to follow in the footsteps of the ninth president, but that he was determined to work diligently for the benefit of the entire population.