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Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres was born in Belarus in 1923, and immigrated to Israel at the age of 11. Growing up in the Labor-Zionist youth movement "HaNo'ar Ha'oved", Peres deeply believed in the creation of a Jewish State. He lived with his family for many years on Kibbutz Alumot, during which time he married Sonia and worked as a shepherd. In 1947, upon David Ben-Gurion's request, Peres was recruited by the Haganah (pre-independence military organization), and he assumed a pivotal role in many state-related missions.

 

Following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 Peres headed the naval services, and in 1949 led a procurement delegation of Israel's Defense Ministry to the United States, undertaking evening studies at the New School for Social Research in parallel. On his return to Israel at the age of 29, he became the Director General of the Ministry of Defense – the youngest ever in Israel's history. As Director General, Peres was a crucial player in the development of Israel's military and aerial industries. Later, the Prime Minister placed Shimon Peres in charge of the establishment of the nuclear reactor in Dimona.

 

In 1959, Peres was elected to the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) and served as Deputy Minister of Defense under then Prime Minister and Minister of Defense David Ben-Gurion. Ten years later, in 1969, he was appointed Minister of Absorption, and in 1970 served as Minister of Transport and Communications. In 1974, Peres was appointed Minister of Defense, a position that he held until 1977. These critical years saw the rebuilding of the Israeli army following the 1973 War.

 

After the resignation of Yitzhak Rabin in 1977 Peres became acting Prime Minister, and was later elected Chairman of the Labor Party, running against Menachem Begin in the national elections. When Likud came to power in 1977, marking the first time in Israel's history that Labor was not the ruling party, Peres served as Head of the Opposition, a position he held until 1984.

 

Following the establishment of a National Unity Government combining Labor and Likud in 1984, Peres served as Prime Minister (1984 to 1986) and as Minister of Foreign Affairs (1986 to 1988), rotating with Likud leader Yitzhak Shamir. In the subsequent National Unity Government (1988-1990) Peres served as Vice Premier and Minister of Finance, and then led the Opposition in the Knesset from 1990 to 1992.

 

After the Labor Party's victory under Rabin's leadership, Peres served again as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1992, and initiated the negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), resulting in the Oslo Accords (Declaration of Principles) which was signed by Shimon Peres and Abu Mazen on the White House lawn on 13th September 1993. Peres, together with Rabin and Arafat, were awarded Nobel Peace Prizes in 1994 for their efforts toward peace. Peres was also involved in Israel's negotiations with Jordan, which commenced immediately following the signing of the Oslo Accords, and were officially signed in October 1994.

 

Following the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin in 1995, Peres became Prime Minister and Minister of Defense until the May 1996 elections. Following his defeat, Peres invested his efforts in creating and establishing the Peres Center for Peace – a non-government and non-partisan organization that brings Israel and its Arab neighbors closer by means of peacebuilding projects which focus on common social and economic interests, thereby fulfilling his vision of regional cooperation.

 

In July 1999, Peres was appointed Minister of Regional Cooperation in Ehud Barak’s government. In 2001, Peres again assumed the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs, this time in Ariel Sharon’s newly-formed National Unity Government, a position he held until November 2002. Peres was re-elected as Chairman of the Labor Party in June 2003 and served as Head of the Opposition. In January 2005, as Head of the Labor Party, Peres once again joined Sharon's government and served as Vice Prime Minister during the disengagement from Gaza. In November 2005, Shimon Peres left the Labor Party to join Sharon's new party, Kadima. Following Kadima's victory in the 2006 elections, Peres served as Vice Prime Minister and Minister for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee.

 

In June 2007, Peres was elected to serve as the 9th President of the State of Israel, a position he still holds today. In June 2012, Peres was awarded the highest US award in the realm of peace by President Barack Obama, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Peres has authored numerous books and articles. His standing and reputation have earned him international recognition among the nations and leaders of the world. Shimon Peres was married to his late wife Sonia. They have three children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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The Peres Center For Peace
132 Kedem St., Tel Aviv-Jaffa,
68066 Israel
info@peres-center.org
+972-3-568-0680
www.peres-center.org

 

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Photo Credits:

Efrat Sa'ar
Nir Keidar
Amit Geron
Guido Frebel
Ronnie Gross
Michal Shaffer
Ohad Zwigenberg