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Shimon Peres became Israel’s ninth president. In parliamentary voting Wednesday, the longtime leader defeated rival Knesset members Reuven Rivlin and Colette Avital. Rivlin and Avital dropped out after the first round, having received 37 and 21 votes respectively, the Jerusalem Post reported. In the second round 86 Knesset members supported Peres, the only remaining candidate, and 23 opposed him. “I have been in the Knesset for 48 years and not for one moment have I lost faith or hope in Israel,” Peres said in his acceptance speech. “What Israel has achieved in 60 years, no other country has been able to achieve. I hope I can represent our faith not because there are no problems but because we all want to overcome them.” Peres, 83, will assume the presidency, a largely ceremonial post, on July 15 for a seven-year term. The presidency will cap a six-decade career in which Peres has served in virtually every top civilian post in Israel. In 1993 he won the Nobel Peace Prize along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat.

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