Opposition leader Isaac Herzog is to be named the next chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, despite the opposition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after nine out of ten committee members voted for his appointment.
Herzog, 57, succeeds Natan Sharansky, who has held the post since 2009, most likely by August 1.
“Following an appeal from leaders of the Jewish Diaspora, I have agreed to take upon myself the position of Chairman of the Jewish Agency,” Herzog said in a statement Thursday. “These are days of significant challenges in all matters related to the relationship of the Jewish people with the State of Israel.”
Herzog was selected from among of a list of candidates which included former Israeli Ambassador to the United States MK Michael Oren and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who was reportedly Prime Minister Netanyahu’s choice for the position.
Herzog heads the centrist-left Zionist Union Knesset faction together with Tzipi Livni, and headed the Labor Party until this past year.
Born in Tel Aviv, he lived for three years in New York and attended the Ramaz School while his father, General (ret.) Chaim Herzog, served as Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations. The elder Herzog later became the sixth president of the State of Israel (1983-1993). His paternal grandfather served as the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, from 1936-1959.
Yitzhak Herzog later attended Cornell University and New York University, as well as Tel Aviv University. Herzog also served in the IDF and served as an officer in the IDF’s Intelligence Corps Unit 8200. He began a career in law at a firm founded by his father (Herzog, Fox & Ne’eman). He is married to Michal, also a lawyer. The couple has three sons.
Yona Schnitzer and TPS contributed content to this report.