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Shimon Peres

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Shimon Peres
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Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres (Hebrew שִׁמְעוֹן פֶּרֶס) (born August 21, 1923), an Israeli politician, is the head of the Israeli Labour Party and served as 8th Prime Minister of Israel from 1984-1986 and 1995-1996 and Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel from 2001-2002, and became Vice Premier in a coalition under Ariel Sharon at the start of 2005. In 1994 Peres won the Nobel Peace Prize together with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, for their efforts towards peace which culminated in the Oslo Accords.

Contents

Early life

Shimon Peres (original last name was Perske) was born in Vishniev, Poland (now in Belarus). As a child he moved to Tel Aviv, Israel with his family in 1934. He was educated in the Geula School in Tel Aviv and the agricultural school of Ben Shemen.

In 1947, he was conscripted into the Haganah (predecessor of the Israeli Defense Forces) and was appointed by David Ben-Gurion to be responsible for personnel and arms purchases. In 1952, he was appointed Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Defense and in 1953 he became the Director General of the Ministry of Defense. He was involved in acquiring weapons for the young state of Israel. Peres' efforts went superbly well as he managed to acquire the advanced Dassault Mirage III French jet fighter and a nuclear reactor.

Political career

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Shimon_peres.jpg
Shimon Peres talks to Donald Rumsfeld. Israeli Ambassador to the USA David Ivry (center) joined them in the talks.

In 1959, he was elected to the Knesset, as a member of Mapai, the Israeli Labour Party. From 1959-1965 he served as Deputy Defense Minister until he was implicated in the Lavon affair with Moshe Dayan. Peres and Dayan left Mapai with David Ben Gurion to form a new party, Rafi which reconciled with Mapai in 1968 (without Ben Gurion) resulting in the formation of the Labour Alignment. In 1969, Peres was appointed Minister of Absorption and in 1970, he became the Minister of Transportation and Communications. In 1974, after a period as Information Minister, he was appointed Minister of Defense in the Yitzhak Rabin government. He had been Rabin's chief rival for the post of Prime Minister after Golda Meir resigned in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War. Peres continued to challenge Rabin for the leadership of the party. While again narrowly defeated in 1977 he succeeded Rabin anyway as the latter resigned after his wife,Leah Rabin, was found to have maintained bank accounts abroad in violation of then-existing Israeli currency regulations. Subsequently Peres led the Labour Party to its first ever electoral defeat in 1977. They were also defeated under his leadership in 1981. However they won more seats than any other party in 1984 and Peres became Prime Minister at the head of a national unity government composed of Labour, Likud and minor parties. After leaving the Premiership in 1986 he became foreign minister in 1986 and finance minister in 1988. He and the Labour Party finally left the government in 1990 after making a failed bid to form a narrow government based on a coalition of Labour, small leftist groupings and Haredi parties.

In the National Unity government (1988-1990) Peres served as Vice Premier and Minister of Finance. From 1990-1992, he led the opposition in the Knesset. In early 1992, Peres, branded as a hopeless loser, was defeated in the first primary elections in the history of the Labour Party, by Yitzhak Rabin, whom he had replaced fifteen years earlier. However Peres remained active in politics, serving as Rabin's foreign minister from 1992 and briefly succeeding him after his assassination in 1995. Peres was defeated by Benjamin Netanyahu in the first direct elections for Prime Minister in Israel's history in 1996. In 1997 he did not seek re-election as Labour Party leader and was replaced by Ehud Barak. Barak rebuffed Peres's attempt to secure the position of Party President and upon forming a government in 1999 appointed Peres to the minor post of minister for regional development. Peres played little role in the Barak government and was humiliated when in a surprise move, the Knesset rejected his bid for a seven-year term as Israel's President, or ceremonial head of state. However, after the defeat of Barak by Ariel Sharon in the 2001 election,Peres made yet another comeback. He led Labour into a national unity government with Sharon's Likud Party and secured the post of foreign minister. The formal leadership of the party passed to Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and later Haifa Mayor Gen. Amram Mitzna. Peres was much criticized on the left for clinging to his position as foreign minister in a government that was not seen as advancing the peace process,despite his own dovish stance. He left office only when Labour resigned in advance of the 2003 elections. After the party under the leadership of Mitzna suffered crushing defeat Peres again emerged as interim leader. He led the party into coalition with Sharon once more at the end of 2004 when the latter's support of "disengagement" from Gaza presented a diplomatic program Labour could support. As should be evident,Shimon Peres is one of Israel's most durable politicians and is currently the longest-serving member of the Knesset.

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Rumsfeld_peres.jpg
Shimon Peres with Donald Rumsfeld

Peres was at one time considered something of a hawk. He was a protege of Ben-Gurion and Dayan and an early supporter of the West Bank settlers during the 1970s. However, after becoming the leader of his party his stand evolved. More recently he has been seen as a dove, and a strong supporter of the notion of peace through economic cooperation. While still opposed, like all mainstream Israeli leaders in the 1970s and early 1980s, to talks with the PLO he distanced himself from settlers and spoke of the need for "territorial compromise" over the West Bank and Gaza. For a time he hoped that King Hussein of Jordan could be Israel's Arab negotiating partner rather than Yasser Arafat. Peres met secretly with Hussein in London in 1987 and reached a framework agreement with him, but this was rejected by Israel's then Prime Minister, Yitzhak Shamir. Shortly afterward the first intifada erupted, and whatever plausibility King Hussein had as a potential Israeli partner in resolving the fate of the West Bank evaporated. Subsequently, Peres gradually moved closer to support for talks with the PLO, although he avoided making an outright commitment to this policy until 1993.

Peres was perhaps more closely associated with the Oslo Accords than any other Israeli politician (Rabin included) with the possible exception of his own protege, Yossi Beillin. He has remained an adamant supporter of the Oslo Accords and the Palestinian Authority since their inception despite the first Intifada and the Al-Aqsa Intifada. However, Peres supports Ariel Sharon's military policy of operating the Israeli Defence Forces to thwart suicide bombings and weaken the integrity of Palestinian organizations. Peres' image is an unusual blend of visionary dreamer and ruthless and opportunistic wheeler-dealer. The former aspect of his image is more widely perceived internationally, while the latter is more commonly seen among Israelis.

Often, Peres acts as the informal "explainer" of Israel (even when he is in the opposition) since he earned high prestige and respect among the international public opinion and diplomatic circles. Peres advocates Israel's security policy (military counter terror operations and the Israeli West Bank barrier) against international criticism and de-legitimation efforts from pro-Palestinian circles.

Family life

Shimon Peres is married to Sonya (nee Gelman), and has a daughter, Tzvia (Tziki) Walden-Peres, a linguist, and two sons, Yoni (born 1952) and Chemi, chairman of Pitango Venture Capital, one of Israel’s largest venture capital funds.

Peres is the first cousin of actress Lauren Bacall (born Betty Joan Perske).

Awards and interests

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 together with Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin.

Shimon Peres is interested in nanoelectronics.

In 1997 he founded the Peres Center for Peace.

Books

He is the author of several books, including:

External links

Template:Wikiquote

Preceded in first term by:
Yitzhak Shamir
Prime Minister of Israel Succeeded in first term by:
Yitzhak Shamir
Preceded in second term by:
Yitzhak Rabin
Succeeded in second term by:
Benjamin Netanyahu
ar:شمعون بيريز

bg:Шимон Перес da:Shimon Peres de:Schimon Peres es:Shimon Peres eo:Ŝimon PERES fr:Shimon Peres id:Shimon Peres he:שמעון פרס nl:Shimon Peres pl:Szymon Peres fi:Shimon Peres sv:Shimon Peres zh:希蒙·佩雷斯

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