Reuven Rivlin can be the most influential person in Israel: Here's why

#25: President Reuven Rivlin

Reuven Rivlin (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Reuven Rivlin
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
President Reuven Rivlin is a seventh-generation Jerusalemite, who invariably welcomes foreign visitors not only to Israel but to “the capital, Jerusalem.”
He never allows anyone to forget that, and if he’s in a fighting mood, he also brings up the business of UNESCO turning a blind eye to the Jewish connection to Jerusalem. Rivlin doesn’t mind criticism of Israel from time to time, but he hates denial of historical fact.
Although his position as president is mainly ceremonial, he can be the most influential person in Israel – at least in the immediate aftermath of any Knesset election.
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In Israel, the president consults with representatives of all the political factions that have passed the electoral threshold and asks them to recommend an MK to serve as the next prime minister. Under the law, the president can choose any Knesset member who he believes is capable of forming a coalition.
If the person presumed to be prime minister returns the mandate or is unable to form a coalition, the president is at liberty to give it to another MK. This gives Rivlin power and influence that is not enjoyed by anyone else in the country.
Obvious politics aside, Rivlin has also introduced a social integration program known as Israel Hope in which he wants to integrate ultra-Orthodox and Arab citizens into the workforce and leadership positions in state institutions, the government, industries and sports.
Within the framework of this initiative, he brings together people of different backgrounds and beliefs and forges them into a national unit in which they can maintain their traditions while functioning within the same common denominator.
Rivlin also practices football diplomacy. An avid soccer fan, he religiously follows teams around the world and can instantly recite their scores and the names of their star players.
It’s an ice-breaker when he’s dealing with foreign visitors. Rivlin starts quoting football facts and stats from the visitor’s home team, and if the visitors are also football enthusiasts, they start to talk about the sport. Once they do that, they can go on to talk about anything else.