Veteran statesman and Nobel laureate Shimon Peres was elected President of Israel on Wednesday, capping a six-decade old political career in which he has held every senior political position.
Peres has been elected ninth President of Israel at a time when the office of the ceremonial head has taken a severe battering in view of charges of rape and sexual misconduct against the outgoing President Moshe Katsav.
Speaking at the Knesset after the final round of voting, a beaming Peres thanked the lawmakers who supported him and pledged to 'give my all to serve Israel'.
Peres said he saw his new role as a unifier of Israel's fractured society.
"The President's role is not to deal with politics and partisanship, but to represent what unites us in a strong voice," he said. "A president must represent the people's desire to be a united nation."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert paid tribute to his deputy saying that, "Israel has been waiting hopefully for the election of Peres as President."
The 83-year-old Nobel laureate won 86 votes in a second round ballot after his two rivals in the race threw their support to him.
In the first round, he fell three votes shy of the 61 needed to clinch the Presidency.