A downhearted President Reuven Rivlin cast his vote in Jerusalem on Monday, expressing "deep shame" that Israel's politicians had forced the electorate into a third election in less than a year due their inability to form a government and had allowed the campaign season to devolve into a nasty fight.
Israelis were voting Monday in the country's unprecedented third election, deciding whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains in office despite his upcoming criminal trial or whether his rival and former IDF chief Benny Gantz can finally oust him after two previous attempts.
"I have an uneasy feeling, shame even," said Rivlin prior to casting his vote.
“We just don't deserve this. We don't deserve another awful and grubby election campaign like the one that ends today and we don't deserve this never-ending instability," he said. "We deserve a government that works for us.”
The president had made great effort to push Netanyahu and Gantz into forming a unity government following the second election in September 2019, saying the nation should not be forced to endure a further round of voting.
“This is normally a festive day, but the truth is that I don't feel like celebrating. I only a sense of deep shame when I face you, my fellow citizens,” the president said Monday.
"I participated in almost all of the country's elections," he said. "It was always a day meant to celebrate the democracy of Israel, today though I feel no festivity.
"We deserved no horrible election round like the one that ends today, we also do not deserve another unending period of instability."
Rivlin said that despite the tumultuous political period Israel has experienced, "we deserve a government that will work for us all, and so, no matter how you feel, I ask you to go and vote.
"Every vote is the right one. Every vote is your voice. Go out and make it heard. I very much hope that we meet again only in 2024, or at least that I won't see another election campaign as president of the country that is so dear to us all.”