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Shimon Peres

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Title: Shimon Peres  
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Subject: Yitzhak Rabin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ariel Sharon, Leader of the Opposition (Israel), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Israel)
Collection: 1923 Births, 20Th-Century Writers, Armenian Genocide Deniers, Belarusian Emigrants to Israel, Belarusian Jews, Deputy Ministers of Israel, Harvard University Alumni, Honorary Knights Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Honorary Knights Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George, Israeli Civil Servants, Israeli Jews, Israeli Labor Party Politicians, Israeli Nobel Laureates, Israeli Party Leaders, Israeli People of Belarusian-Jewish Descent, Israeli People of Polish-Jewish Descent, Israeli Political Writers, Jewish Israeli Politicians, Jewish Politicians, Jewish Writers, Kadima Politicians, Légion D'Honneur Recipients, Living People, Mapai Politicians, Members of the 10Th Knesset (1981–84), Members of the 11Th Knesset (1984–88), Members of the 12Th Knesset (1988–92), Members of the 13Th Knesset (1992–96), Members of the 14Th Knesset (1996–99), Members of the 15Th Knesset (1999–2003), Members of the 16Th Knesset (2003–06), Members of the 17Th Knesset (2006–09), Members of the 4Th Knesset (1959–61), Members of the 5Th Knesset (1961–65), Members of the 6Th Knesset (1965–69), Members of the 7Th Knesset (1969–74), Members of the 8Th Knesset (1974–77), Members of the 9Th Knesset (1977–81), Members of the Knesset, Ministers of Defense of Israel, Ministers of Finance of Israel, Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Israel, Ministers of Internal Affairs of Israel, New York University Alumni, Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, People from Tel Aviv, People from Valozhyn Raion, Polish Emigrants to Mandatory Palestine, Polish Jews, Presidents of Israel, Prime Ministers of Israel, Rafi (Political Party) Politicians, The New School Alumni, Writers on the Middle East, Writers on Zionism
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Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres
שמעון פרס
9th President of Israel
In office
15 July 2007 – 24 July 2014
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Benjamin Netanyahu
Preceded by Moshe Katsav
Succeeded by Reuven Rivlin
Prime Minister of Israel
In office
4 November 1995 – 18 June 1996
Acting: 4 November 1995 – 22 November 1995
President Ezer Weizman
Preceded by Yitzhak Rabin
Succeeded by Benjamin Netanyahu
In office
13 September 1984 – 20 October 1986
President Chaim Herzog
Preceded by Yitzhak Shamir
Succeeded by Yitzhak Shamir
In office
22 April 1977 – 21 June 1977
President Ephraim Katzir
Preceded by Yitzhak Rabin
Succeeded by Menachem Begin
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
7 March 2001 – 2 November 2002
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Deputy Michael Melchior
Preceded by Shlomo Ben-Ami
Succeeded by Benjamin Netanyahu
In office
14 July 1992 – 22 November 1995
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
Deputy Yossi Beilin
Eli Dayan
Preceded by David Levy
Succeeded by Ehud Barak
In office
20 October 1986 – 23 December 1988
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir
Preceded by Yitzhak Shamir
Succeeded by Moshe Arens
Minister of Defence
In office
4 November 1995 – 18 June 1996
Preceded by Yitzhak Rabin
Succeeded by Yitzhak Mordechai
In office
3 June 1974 – 20 June 1977
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
Preceded by Moshe Dayan
Succeeded by Ezer Weizman
Minister of Finance
In office
22 December 1988 – 15 March 1990
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir
Preceded by Moshe Nissim
Succeeded by Yitzhak Shamir
Minister of Transportation
In office
1 September 1970 – 10 March 1974
Prime Minister Golda Meir
Preceded by Ezer Weizman
Succeeded by Aharon Yariv
Personal details
Born Szymon Perski
(1923-08-02) 2 August 1923
Wiszniew, Poland
(now Belarus)
Political party Mapai (1959–1965)
Rafi (1965–1968)
Labor (1968–2005)
Kadima (2005–present)
Other political
Alignment (1965–1991)
Spouse(s) Sonya Gelman (1945–2011)
Children Zvia
Alma mater New School
New York University
Harvard University
Religion Judaism

Shimon Peres (   ; Hebrew: שמעון פרס‎; born Szymon Perski; 2 August 1923) is a Polish-born Israeli statesman. He was the ninth President of Israel from 2007 to 2014. Peres served twice as the Prime Minister of Israel and twice as Interim Prime Minister, and he was a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years.[1] Peres was elected to the Knesset in November 1959 and, except for a three-month-long hiatus in early 2006, served continuously until 2007, when he became President.

He held several diplomatic and military positions during and directly after Israel's War of Independence. His first high-level government position was as Deputy Director-General of Defense in 1952, and Director-General from 1953 until 1959.[2] During his career, he has represented five political parties in the Knesset: Mapai, Rafi, the Alignment, Labor and Kadima, and has led Alignment and Labor. Peres won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize together with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat for the peace talks that he participated in as Israeli Foreign Minister, producing the Oslo Accords.[2]

Peres was nominated in early 2007 by Kadima to run in that year's presidential election, and was elected by the Knesset to the presidency on 13 June 2007 and sworn into office on 15 July 2007 for a seven-year term.[3][4] He is the first former Prime Minister to be elected President of Israel.

In 2008, Peres was honorarily appointed Knight Grand Cross of the

Party political offices
Preceded by
Yitzhak Rabin
Leader of the Alignment
Succeeded by
Yitzhak Rabin
Leader of the Labor Party
Succeeded by
Ehud Barak
Preceded by
Amram Mitzna
Leader of the Labor Party
Succeeded by
Amir Peretz
Political offices
Preceded by
Yitzhak Rabin
Prime Minister of Israel

Succeeded by
Menachem Begin
Preceded by
Yitzhak Shamir
Prime Minister of Israel
Succeeded by
Yitzhak Shamir
Preceded by
Yitzhak Rabin
Prime Minister of Israel
Succeeded by
Benjamin Netanyahu
Preceded by
Moshe Katsav
President of Israel
Succeeded by
Reuven Rivlin
  • Official Israeli Presidency website
  • Shimon Peres on the Knesset website
  • Official channel on YouTube
  • The day Peres became a Sheikh!(Persian)
  • Peres Center for Peace
  • Biography at the Encyclopædia Britannica
  • Lecture at
  • Shimon Peres biography at the Jewish Virtual Library
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
  • Column archive at The Guardian
  • Shimon Peres collected news and commentary at Ha'aretz
  • Shimon Peres collected news and commentary at The Jerusalem Post
  • Shimon Peres collected news and commentary at The New York Times
  • Works by or about Shimon Peres in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
  • Shimon Peres at the Notable Names Database
  • BBC – Sharon seals new Israel coalition
  • Peres's metaphysical propensity to lose by Matthew Wagner, published in the Jerusalem Post, 10 November 2005.
  • Former Labor Leader Shimon Peres Heading For Sharon's new party – recorded Report from IsraCast.
  • Shimon Peres speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations about the Israel/Lebanon conflict on 31 July 2006
  • Shimon Peres speaks at Cornell University – "A Conversation with Shimon Peres"
  • "Presidency rounds off 66-year career" by Amiram Barkat, Haaretz
  • President Peres' address to the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, 24 September 2008
  • Honorary doctorate of Law from King's College London
  • Segment Interview on YouTube by Leon Charney on The Leon Charney Report
  • Full Interview on YouTube by Leon Charney on The Leon Charney Report

External links

  1. ^ Amiram Barkat. "Presidency rounds off 66-year career".  
  2. ^ a b c Tore Frangsmyr, ed. (1995). "Shimon Peres, The Nobel Peace Prize 1994". The Nobel Foundation. 
  3. ^ "Peres elected President".  
  4. ^ a b Jim Teeple, "Shimon Peres Sworn In as Israel's President", VOA News, 15 July 2007.
  5. ^ Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  6. ^ "Shimon Peres". The  
  7. ^ "Shimon Peres".  
  8. ^ Location of Wiszniew on the map of the Second Polish Republic in the years 1921–1939,
  9. ^ "Knesset Member, Shimon Peres". Knesset. Retrieved 13 February 2008. 
  10. ^ a b c "Shimon Peres Biography". Academy of Achievement. 13 February 2008. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Peres: Not such a bad record after all".  
  13. ^ Joseph Telushkin. Rebbe. Page 132. HarperCollins, 2014.
  14. ^ Judy L. Beckham (2 August 2003). "Shimon Peres, 1994 Nobel Peace Prize". Israel Times. 
  15. ^ a b President Shimon Peres - Seventy years of public service
  16. ^ Gilbert, Martin: Israel: A History (Pages 116–117)
  17. ^ "Peres to German MPs: Hunt down remaining Nazi war criminals".  
  18. ^ "Address by Peres to German Bundestag". 2010-01-27. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  19. ^ "Sonia Peres regains consciousness".  
  20. ^ "Sonia Peres, wife of President Shimon Peres, dies at 87". Haaretz. 20 January 2011. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  21. ^ Ziv, Guy. "Shimon Peres and the French-Israeli Alliance, 1954–9". Journal of Contemporary History 45 (2): 406–429.  
  22. ^ The Economic Diplomacy of the Suez Crisis, By Diane B. Kunz, Univ of North Carolina Press, 1991, page 108
  23. ^ Suez: Britain's End of Empire in the Middle East, Keith Kyle, I.B.Tauris, 15 February 2011
  24. ^ a b Neff, Donald Warriors at Suez, pp. 162–163.
  25. ^ Neff, Donald Warriors at Suez, pp. 234–236.
  26. ^ Neff, Donald Warriors at Suez, p. 235.
  27. ^ Affaire de Suez, Le Pacte Secret, Peter Hercombe and Arnaud Hamelin, France 5/Sunset Presse/Transparence, 2006
  28. ^ The Protocol of Sevres 1956 Anatomy of a War Plot. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  29. ^ Eden, By Peter Wilby, Haus Publishing, 2006
  30. ^ [1]
  31. ^ "Israel Labour head to meet Sharon". BBC News. 10 November 2005. Retrieved 13 June 2007. 
  32. ^ "Serving 60 Years to Life". Newsweek Europe. 12 December 2005. 
  33. ^ Verter, Yossi (6 January 2006). "Under Peres, Kadima would win 42 seats; under Olmert – 40". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 13 January 2006. Retrieved 21 July 2007. 
  34. ^ Mazal Mualem, Yossi Verter, and Nir Hasson (9 January 2006). "Shimon Peres calls on his supporters to vote Kadima". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 13 January 2006. Retrieved 21 July 2007. 
  35. ^ "Peres elected Israel's president". BBC News. 13 June 2007. Retrieved 13 June 2007. 
  36. ^ "Shimon Peres: State president, Nobel laureate and now – knight".  
  37. ^ "H.R. 2939 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  38. ^ Marcos, Cristina (19 May 2014). "House votes to award medal to Israeli president". The Hill. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  39. ^ "Shimon Peres: From Hawk to Dove". Winter 2000. Retrieved 13 June 2007. 
  40. ^ a b c Yair, Auron (2003). "Chapter 5 – The Armenian Genocide's Recognition by States: The Israeli Aspect". The Banality of Denial: Israel and the Armenian Genocide (1st ed.). New Brunswick (U.S.A.): Transaction Publishers. p. 127.  
  41. ^ "Peres stands accused over denial of 'meaningless' Armenian Holocaust", by Robert Fisk
  42. ^ "'"Protest [against] Israeli foreign minister's remarks dismissing Armenian genocide as 'meaningless. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  43. ^ Ravid, Barak (2007-08-26). "'"Peres to Turks: 'Our stance on Armenian issue hasn't changed. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  44. ^ Pfeffer, Anshel. "Peres: 'Fight terror – reduce global dependence on oil'", Haaretz. 5 May 2008.
  45. ^ "Peres says that Iran 'can also be wiped off the map'", Dominican Today. 8 May 2006
  46. ^ Speech by Peres at Waterloo University, Canada
  47. ^ "Secrets of Ben-Gurion's Leadership". Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  48. ^ Fay, Greer (2011-01-20). "Jerusalem Post article on Sonya Gelman". Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  49. ^ Cebedo, Earl (20 January 2011). "Wife of Israeli President Shimon Peres dies". All Voices. Retrieved 26 June 2013. 
  50. ^ "Not like other murderers", Haaretz, 5 November 2007


See also

  • The Next Step (1965)
  • David's Sling (1970) (ISBN 0-297-00083-7)
  • And Now Tomorrow (1978)
  • From These Men: seven founders of the State of Israel (1979) (ISBN 0-671-61016-3)
  • Entebbe Diary (1991) (ISBN 965-248-111-4)
  • The New Middle East (1993) (ISBN 0-8050-3323-8)
  • Battling for Peace: a memoir (1995) (ISBN 0-679-43617-0)
  • For the Future of Israel (1998) (ISBN 0-8018-5928-X)
  • The Imaginary Voyage: With Theodor Herzl in Israel (1999) (ISBN 1-55970-468-3)
  • Ben Gurion: A Political Life

Shimon Peres is the author of 11 books, including:

65th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, (Lech Kaczyński and Shimon Peres)


  • A daughter, Dr. Tsvia ("Tsiki") Valdan, a linguist and professor at Beit Berl Academic College;
  • An elder son, Yoni, director of Village Veterinary Center, a veterinary hospital on the campus of Kfar Hayarok Agricultural School near Tel Aviv. He specializes in the treatment of guide dogs;
  • A younger son, Nehemia ("Chemi"), Co-founder/Managing General Partner of Pitango Venture Capital, one of Israel's largest venture capital funds.[50] Chemi Peres is a former helicopter pilot in the IAF.

Shimon and Sonya Peres had three children:

In May 1945, Peres married Sonya Gelman, whom he had met in the Ben Shemen Youth Village, where her father served as a carpentry teacher. The couple married after Sonya finished her military service as a truck driver in the British Army during World War II. Through the years Sonya chose to stay away from the media and keep her privacy and the privacy of her family, despite her husband's extensive political career. With the election of Peres for president, Sonya Peres, who had not wanted her husband to accept the position, announced that she would stay in the couple's apartment in Tel Aviv and not join her husband in Jerusalem. The couple thereafter lived separately.[48] She died on 20 January 2011, aged 87, from heart failure at her apartment in Tel Aviv.[49]

Personal life

In Ben Gurion: A Political Life by Peres and David Landau, former editor in chief of Haaretz newspaper, Peres describes himself as a "Ben-Gurionist." He recalls his first meeting with Ben-Gurion as a young activist in the No'ar Ha'Oved youth movement, when Ben-Gurion gave him a lift to Haifa. Towards the end of the ride, Ben-Gurion told him that he preferred Lenin to Trotsky because he was "decisive."[47]


Peres announced in April 2013 that he would not seek to extend his tenure beyond 2014. His successor, Reuven Rivlin, was elected 10 June 2014 and took office on 24 July 2014.

Post presidency

On the issue of the nuclear program of Iran and the existential threat this poses for Israel, Peres stated, "I am not in favor of a military attack on Iran, but we must quickly and decisively establish a strong, aggressive coalition of nations that will impose painful economic sanctions on Iran", adding "Iran's efforts to achieve nuclear weapons should keep the entire world from sleeping soundly." In the same speech, Peres compared Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his call to "wipe Israel off the map" to the genocidal threats to European Jewry made by Adolf Hitler in the years prior to the Holocaust.[44] In an interview with Army Radio on 8 May 2006 he remarked that "the president of Iran should remember that Iran can also be wiped off the map".[45] Peres is a proponent of Middle East economic integration.[46]

Peres' foreign policy outlook is markedly realist. To placate Turkey, Peres allegedly downplayed the Armenian genocide.[40] Peres stated: "We reject attempts to create a similarity between the Holocaust and the Armenian allegations. Nothing similar to the Holocaust occurred. It is a tragedy what the Armenians went through but not a genocide."[41][42][43] Although Peres himself did not retract the statement, the Israeli Foreign Ministry later issued a cable to its missions which stated that the "The minister absolutely did not say, as the Turkish news agency alleged, "What the Armenians underwent was a tragedy, not a genocide"".[40] However, according to Armenian news agencies, the statement released by the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles did not include any mention that Peres hadn't said that the events were not genocide.[40]

Peres was perhaps more closely associated with the Oslo Accords than any other Israeli politician (Rabin included) with the possible exception of his own protégé, Yossi Beilin. 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 (Second Intifada). However, Peres supported Ariel Sharon's military policy of operating the Israeli Defence Forces to thwart suicide bombings.

Peres was once considered a "hawk".[39] He was a protégé 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 stance evolved. More recently he has been seen as a dove, and a strong supporter 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.

Political views

In June 2012, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from US President Barack Obama. On May 19, 2014, the United States House of Representatives voted on H.R. 2939, a bill to award Peres the Congressional Gold Medal.[37] The bill said that "Congress proclaims its unbreakable bond with Israel."[38]

In November 2008, Peres received an honorary knighthood, Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace in London.[36]

On 13 June 2007, Peres was elected President of the State of Israel by the Knesset. 58 of 120 members of the Knesset voted for him in the first round (whereas 38 voted for Reuven Rivlin, and 21 for Colette Avital). His opponents then backed Peres in the second round and 86 members of the Knesset voted in his favor,[35] while 23 objected. He resigned from his role as a Member of the Knesset the same day, having been a member since November 1959 (except for a three-month period in early 2006), the longest serving in Israeli political history. Peres was sworn in as President on 15 July 2007.[4]

Former President Peres, Sept. 19, 2014, New York City
Shimon Peres addressing a gathering of the World Jewish Congress in Jerusalem (2010)
Shimon Peres and the Foreign Minister of Brazil, Celso Amorim, meet in Brasília, November 11, 2009
Shimon Peres meeting with Barack Obama in the Oval Office, May 5, 2009.
Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East (2009)
Peres with Condoleezza Rice in Jerusalem, 2007
Shimon Peres in December 2007 (audio)

Presidency: 2007–2014

Labor reportedly tried to woo Peres back to the fold.[34] Peres announced, however, that he supported Olmert and would remain with Kadima. Peres had previously announced his intention not to run in the March elections. Following Kadima's win in the election, Peres was given the role of Vice Prime Minister and Minister for the Development of the Negev, Galilee and Regional Economy.

On 30 November 2005 Peres announced that he was leaving the Labor Party to support Ariel Sharon and his new Kadima party. In the immediate aftermath of Sharon's debilitating stroke there was speculation that Peres might take over as leader of the party but most senior Kadima leaders, however, were former members of Likud and indicated their support for Ehud Olmert as Sharon's successor.[33]

Support for Sharon and joining Kadima

Peres won the chairmanship of the Labor Party in 2005, in advance of the 2006 elections. As party leader, Peres favored pushing off the elections for as long as possible. He claimed that an early election would jeopardize both the September 2005 Gaza withdrawal plan and the standing of the party in a national unity government with Sharon. However, the majority pushed for an earlier date, as younger members of the party, among them Ophir Pines-Paz and Isaac Herzog, overtook established leaders such as Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Haim Ramon, in the party ballot to divide up government portfolios. Peres continually led in the polls, defying predictions that rivals would overtake him. Peres lost the leadership election with 40% to Peretz's 42.4%.[31]

Following Ehud Barak's defeat by Ariel Sharon in the 2001 direct election for Prime Minister, Peres made yet another comeback. He led Labor into a national unity government with Sharon's Likud and secured the post of Foreign Minister. The formal leadership of the party passed to Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, and in 2002 to Haifa mayor 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 Labor resigned in advance of the 2003 elections. After the party under the leadership of Mitzna suffered a 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 Labor could support.

In 2000 Peres ran for a seven-year term as Israel's President, a ceremonial head of state position, which usually authorizes the selection of Prime Minister. Had he won, as was expected, he would have been the first ex-Prime Minister to be elected President. However, he lost to Likud candidate Moshe Katsav.

During his term, Peres promoted the use of the Internet in Israel and created the first website of an Israeli prime minister. However, he was narrowly defeated by Benjamin Netanyahu in the first direct elections for Prime Minister in 1996. In 1997 he did not seek re-election as Labor 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 of Regional Co-operation.

From 1990, Peres led the opposition in the Knesset, until, in early 1992, he was defeated in the first primary elections of the new Oslo Accords, which won Peres, Rabin and Arafat the Nobel Peace Prize. After Rabin's assassination in 1995, Peres served as Acting Prime Minister and Acting Defense Minister for seven months until the 1996 elections, during which he attempted to maintain the momentum of the peace process.[30]

Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat receiving the Nobel Peace Prize following the Oslo Accords.

As part of the deal, after two years, Peres and Shamir traded places. In 1986 he became foreign minister. In 1988, the Alignment led by Peres suffered another narrow defeat. He agreed to renew the coalition with the Likud, this time conceding the premiership to Shamir for the entire term. In the national unity government of 1988–90, Peres served as Vice Premier and Minister of Finance. He and the Alignment finally left the government in 1990, after "the dirty trick" – a failed bid to form a narrow government based on a coalition of the Alignment, small leftist factions and ultra-orthodox parties.

Peres succeeded Rabin as party leader prior to the 1977 elections when Rabin stepped down in the wake of a foreign currency scandal involving his wife. As Rabin could not legally resign from the transition government, he officially remained Prime Minister, while Peres became the unofficial acting Prime Minister. Peres led the Alignment to its first ever electoral defeat, when Likud under Menachem Begin won sufficient seats to form a coalition that excluded the left. After only a month on top, Peres assumed the role of opposition leader. After turning back a comeback bid by Rabin in 1980 Peres led his party to another, narrower, loss in the 1981 elections. In the 1984 elections, the Alignment won more seats than any other party but failed to muster the majority of 61 mandates needed to form a left-wing coalition. Alignment and Likud agreed to an unusual "rotation" arrangement, or unity government, in which Peres would serve as Prime Minister and the Likud leader Yitzhak Shamir would be Foreign Minister. A highlight of this time in office was a trip to Morocco to confer with King Hassan II.

In 1969, Peres was appointed Minister of Immigrant Absorption and in 1970 became Minister of Transportation and Communications. In 1974, after a period as Information Minister, he was appointed Minister of Defense in the Yitzhak Rabin government, having been Rabin's chief rival for the post of Prime Minister after Golda Meir resigned in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War. During this time, Peres continued to challenge Rabin for the chairmanship of the party, but in 1977, he again lost to Rabin in the party elections.

Peres was first elected to the Knesset in the 1959 elections, as a member of the Mapai party. He was given the role of Deputy Defense Minister, which he fulfilled until 1965. Peres and Moshe Dayan left Mapai with David Ben-Gurion to form a new party, Rafi, which reconciled with Mapai and joined the Alignment (a left-wing alliance) in 1968.

Peres with Donald Rumsfeld at Pentagon in August 2002.

Political career

At the Sèvres, Peres took part in planning alongside Maurice Bourgès-Maunoury, Christian Pineau and Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces General Maurice Challe, and British Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd and his assistant Sir Patrick Dean.[27] Britain and France enlisted Israeli support for an alliance against Egypt. The parties agreed that Israel would invade the Sinai. Britain and France would then intervene, purportedly to separate the warring Israeli and Egyptian forces, instructing both to withdraw to a distance of 16 kilometres from either side of the canal.[28] The British and French would then argue, according to the plan, that Egypt's control of such an important route was too tenuous, and that it needed be placed under Anglo-French management. The agreement at Sèvres was initially described by British Prime Minister Anthony Eden as the "highest form of statesmanship".[29] The three allies, especially Israel, were mainly successful in attaining their immediate military objectives. However, the extremely hostile reaction to the war from both the United States and the USSR forced them to withdraw, resulting in a failure of Britain and France's political and strategic aims of controlling the Suez canal.

From 1954, as Director-General of the Ministry of Defense, Peres was involved in the planning of the 1956 Suez War, in partnership with France and Britain. Peres was sent by David Ben Gurion to Paris, where he held secret meetings with the French government.[22] Peres was instrumental in negotiating the Franco-Israeli agreement for a military offensive.[23] In November 1954, Peres visited Paris, where he was received by the French Defense Minister Marie-Pierre Kœnig, who told him that France would sell Israel any weapons it wanted to buy.[24] By early 1955, France was shipping large amounts of weapons to Israel.[24] In April 1956, following another visit to Paris by Peres, France agreed to disregard the Tripartite Declaration, and supply more weapons to Israel.[25] During the same visit, Peres informed the French that Israel had decided upon war with Egypt in 1956.[26] By 1956, France had become Israel's closest ally and partner in the Middle East.

1956 Suez Crisis

In 1952, he was appointed Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Defense, and the following year, he became Director-General. At age 29, he was the youngest person to hold this position. He was involved in arms purchases and establishing strategic alliances that were important for the State of Israel. He was instrumental in establishing close relations with France, securing massive amounts of quality arms that, in turn, helped to tip the balance of power in the region.[21] Owing to Peres' mediation, Israel acquired the advanced Dassault Mirage III French jet fighter, established the Dimona nuclear reactor and entered into a tri-national agreement with France and the United Kingdom, positioning Israel in what would become the 1956 Suez Crisis. Peres continued as a primary intermediary in the close French-Israeli alliance from the mid-1950s, although from 1958, he was often involved in tense negotiations with Charles de Gaulle over the Dimona project.

Peres (center) with Ezer Weizman and King Mahendra of Nepal in 1958

Ministry of Defense

In 1947, Peres joined the Haganah, the predecessor of the Israel Defense Forces. David Ben-Gurion made him responsible for personnel and arms purchases.

In 1946, Peres and Moshe Dayan were chosen as the two youth delegates in the Mapai delegation to the Zionist Congress in Basel.[15]

In 1945, Peres married Sonya Gelman, who preferred to remain outside the public eye. They had three children. Sonya Peres was unable to attend Shimon's 2007 presidential inauguration ceremony due to ill health.[19] She died on 20 January 2011, aged 87.[20]

All of Peres' relatives who remained in Wiszniew in 1941 were murdered during the Holocaust,[17] many of them (including Rabbi Meltzer) burned alive in the town's synagogue.[18]

In 1944, Peres led an illicit expedition into the Negev, then a closed military zone requiring a permit to enter. The expedition, consisting of a group of teenagers, along with a Palmach scout, a zoologist, and an archaeologist, had been funded by Ben-Gurion and planned by Palmach head Yitzhak Sadeh, as part of a plan for future Jewish settlement of the area so as to include it in the Jewish state. The group was arrested by a Bedouin camel patrol led by a British officer, taken to Beersheba (then a small Arab town) and incarcerated in the local jail. All of the participants were sentenced to two weeks in prison, and as the leader, Peres was also heavily fined.[16]

At age 20, he was elected to the "Working and Learning Youth" national secretariat, where he was only one of two Mapai party supporters, out of the 12 members. Three years later, he took over the movement and won a majority. The head of Mapai, David Ben-Gurion, and Berl Katznelson began to take an interest in him, and appointed him to Mapai's secretariat.[15]

In 1932, Peres' father immigrated to Palestine and settled in Tel Aviv. The family followed him in 1934.[10] He attended Balfour Elementary School and High School, and Geula Gymnasium (High School for Commerce) in Tel Aviv. At 15, he transferred to Ben Shemen agricultural school and lived on Kibbutz Geva for several years.[10] Peres was one of the founders of Kibbutz Alumot. In 1941 he was elected Secretary of Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed, a Labor Zionist youth movement, and in 1944 returned to Alumot, where he worked as a dairy farmer, shepherd, and kibbutz secretary.

Peres told Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson that he had been born as a result of a blessing his parents had received from a chassidic rebbe and that he was proud of it.[13] Peres' grandfather, Rabbi Zvi Meltzer, a grandson of Rabbi Chaim Volozhin, had a great impact on his life. In an interview, Peres said: "As a child, I grew up in my grandfather's home. … I was educated by him. … My grandfather taught me Talmud. It was not as easy as it sounds. My home was not an observant one. My parents were not Orthodox but I was Haredi. At one point, I heard my parents listening to the radio on the Sabbath and I smashed it."[14] At the age of four, Peres was taken by his father to Radun' to receive a blessing from Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (The Chofetz Chaim).

Shimon Peres was born Szymon Perski, on 2 August 1923,[6][7] in Wiszniew, Poland (now Vishnyeva, Belarus), to Yitzhak (1896–1962) and Sara (1905–1969 née Meltzer) Perski.[2][8] The family spoke Hebrew, Yiddish and Russian at home, and Peres learned Polish at school. He now speaks English and French in addition to Hebrew.[9] His father was a wealthy timber merchant, later branching out into other commodities while his mother was a librarian. Peres has a younger brother, Gershon,[10] and was a relative of the late American film star Lauren Bacall (born Betty Joan Persky).[11][12]

Shimon Peres (standing, third from right) with his family, ca. 1930



  • Biography 1
  • Ministry of Defense 2
    • 1956 Suez Crisis 2.1
  • Political career 3
    • Support for Sharon and joining Kadima 3.1
  • Presidency: 2007–2014 4
  • Political views 5
  • Post presidency 6
  • Influences 7
  • Personal life 8
  • Books 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


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