Shimon Peres

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Shimon Peres
שִׁמְעוֹן פֶּרֶס;
Image:Peres.jpg

8th Prime Minister of Israel
In office
1984 – 1986
1995 - 1996
Preceded by Yitzhak Shamir
Yitzhak Rabin
Succeeded by Yitzhak Shamir
Benjamin Netanyahu

Born August 2, 1923
Wieniawa, Poland (now Vishniova, Belarus)
Political party Kadima
(formerly Labor)

Shimon Peres  (Hebrew: שִׁמְעוֹן פֶּרֶס; born Shimon Perske on August 2, 1923 in Poland, and immigrated with his family to Palestine in 1934), is an Israeli politician, former Prime Minister and current Vice Premier.

Peres was a member and sometime leader of the Labor Party from the 1950s until December 2005, when he announced his support for the new Kadima Party. He was elected to the current Knesset in March 2006 as a member of Kadima. As of May 4, 2006, he is the Minister for the Development of the Negev, Galilee and Regional Economy and Vice Premier.

Peres served as eighth 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. Peres has never won a national election, despite having led the Labor Party for many years.

Contents

[edit] Early life

Shimon Peres was born in Wieniawa, Poland (now Vishniova in Belarus), son of Yitzchak (1896-1962) and Sarah (b. 1905 nee Meltzer) Perske<ref>"Volozhin Guestbook Archive", Eilat Gordin Levitan, 2003-03-16.</ref>. His father was a wood tradesman, and his mother taught Russian language and literature. He has a younger brother called Gershon.

According to an interview he gave to the Israeli Orthodox magazine Mishpacha, Peres's grandfather Rabbi Tzvi Meltzer studied at the Volozhin yeshiva and was himself a grandson of Rabbi Chaim Volozhin. In Peres's own words, he "had a great impact on my life... 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. I must add here however that in my father's merit, as a child, I received a blessing from the Chofetz Chaim in Radin. My father took me to him."

In 1934, as a child, he moved with his family to Tel Aviv in what is now Israel (then part of the British Mandate of Palestine.) 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, aged 29, he became the youngest ever Director General of the Ministry of Defense. He was involved in acquiring weapons and strategic alliances for the young state of Israel. Peres' efforts went superbly well with France as he managed to acquire the advanced Dassault Mirage III French jet fighter, the Dimona nuclear reactor and the tri-national agreement with France and the United Kingdom during the 1956 Suez Crisis.

[edit] Political career

Image: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 Labor 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 Labor 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 as Prime Minister and party leader after the latter resigned after his wife, Leah Rabin, was found to have maintained bank accounts abroad in violation of then-existing Israeli currency regulations. Later that year, Peres led the Labor Party to its first ever electoral defeat, when the Likud Party under Menachem Begin won sufficient seats to form a coalition that excluded Labor. 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 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 Labor, Likud and minor parties. The two parties agreed on an unusual "rotation" arrangement in which Peres would serve as Prime Minister and the Likud leader Yitzhak Shamir would be Foreign Minister. After two years they would trade places. After leaving the Premiership in 1986 he became foreign minister in 1986. In 1988 he led his party to yet 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 (1988-1990) Peres served as Vice Premier and Minister of Finance. He and the Labor Party finally left the government in 1990 after making a failed bid to form a narrow government based on a coalition of Labor, small leftist groupings and Haredi parties. From 1990-1992, he led the opposition in the Knesset.

In early 1992, Peres was defeated in the first primary elections in the history of the Labor 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. During his term as prime minister, Peres promoted the use of the Internet in Israel and created the first Web site for an Israeli prime minister. Peres was narrowly 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 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 for regional development. Peres played little role in the Barak government. In 2000 Peres ran for a seven-year term as Israel's President, or ceremonial head of state. Had he won, as was expected, he would have been the first ex-Prime Minister to be elected President. Instead, he lost in an upset to Likud candidate Moshe Katsav.

After Barak was defeated 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 Party and secured the post of foreign minister. The formal leadership of the party passed to Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, and in 2002 to 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 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. Shimon Peres is one of Israel's most durable politicians and is currently the longest-serving member of the Knesset.

Image: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 stance 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 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. However, Peres supports Ariel Sharon's military policy of operating the Israeli Defence Forces to thwart suicide bombings. 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 "spokesman" 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.

[edit] 2005 Labor Primaries

In Winter 2004-05 the Labor Party decided to hold elections to determine who will lead the party in the upcoming 2006 general elections. As party leader, Peres was in favor of holding the ballot at the latest possible date, and claimed that an early decision would jeopardize both the September 2005 Gaza Withdrawal, and the party's status in the National Unity Government with Sharon. However, the tide was in favor of an earlier date, as younger party figures such as Ophir Pines-Paz and Yitzhak Herzog took a decisive lead over more established leaders Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Haim Ramon in the ballot to determine ministries in that government. The original date of June 26 proved abortive when massive member registration fraud was discovered only weeks before the date. This caused a delay aided by internal and civil investigations to November 9, 2005.

Irrespective of before or after the delay, Peres continually led in the polls, defying predictions that rivals would overtake him. His bitter exchanges with opponents began when former Prime Minister Barak began backing the holding of primaries early that year, as Amir Peretz and Haim Ramon, two staunch anti-Barak Knesset members vowed to support Peres at any cost to defeat Barak. In a bizarre change of events, Peretz soon declared his own candidacy, a move viewed by Peres as the greatest betrayal.

Though Peres continued to trade nasty barbs with Barak in the newspapers, his feud with Peretz soon superseded that, especially when Barak pulled out of the race in early October. One of Peretz's main charges against Peres was that he neglected socio-economic affairs as a member of the Sharon government, and has not fulfilled his statement that Labor had joined the coalition with only the intent of seeing through the Gaza Withdrawal.

The other candidates include Minister of Science Matan Vilnai, who, before Peretz, was considered the main challenger, and Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, always considered a long-shot and now even more so due to the invalidation of many of his supporters from the voters' book due to the fraud investigation. Peres lost the leadership election with 40% to Peretz's 42.4%.[1]

[edit] Leaving Labor

On November 30 2005 Peres announced that he was leaving the Labor Party to support Ariel Sharon. In the immediate aftermath of Sharon's debilitating stroke there was speculation that Peres may be chosen to take over as leader of Kadima. One poll suggested the party would win 42 seats in the March 2006 elections with Peres as leader compared to 40 if it were led by Ehud Olmert. Most senior Kadima leaders, however, are former members of Likud and indicated their support for Olmert as Sharon's successor[2].

Labor reportedly tried to woo Peres back to the fold.[3] Peres announced, however, that he supported Olmert and would remain with Kadima. Media reports suggest that Ehud Olmert offered Peres the second slot on the Kadima list, but inferior cabinet positions to the ones that were reportedly offered to Tzipi Livni. Peres had previously announced his intention not to run in the March elections.

On January 17 2006, Peres resigned from the Knesset where he was a member of the Labor-Meimad-Am Ehad faction. He has been replaced by Weizman Shiry, who was also a member of the Knesset in the past. Peres' resignation from the Knesset was intended to allow him to run on the Kadima list. He was placed on the second list on this list, with the understanding that Kadima's second most important cabinet position will go to Tzipi Livni (the number 3).

[edit] 2006 Israel- Lebanon conflict

  • Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres said that Israel has opened its airspace to planes from Arab countries carrying humanitarian aid to Lebanon. Israel normally won't allow overflights from Arab countries with whom it doesn't have diplomatic relations. "Whenever we are asked, we agreed, as long as we are convinced they're legitimate", Peres said on August 16 2006.<ref name=CNN-08-16>"Israel says its troops could stay in Lebanon for months", CNN, 2006-08-16.</ref>
See also: Timeline of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict

In October, Peres caused controversy by inviting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to peace talks in Israel. "If he says 'I want a meeting', I am sure Israel will say 'Very well, let us meet and talk'", Peres said. Prime Minister Olmert later distanced himself from the remarks. [4]

[edit] Family life

Shimon Peres is married to Sonya (née Gelman), and has a daughter, Tzvia (Tziki) Walden-Peres, a linguist, and two sons, Yoni (born 1952), the director of Village Veterinary Center, a veterinary hospital on the campus of Kfar Hayarok Agricultural School near Tel Aviv, and Chemi, chairman of Pitango Venture Capital, one of Israel’s largest venture capital funds.

Peres is a relative of actress Lauren Bacall (born Betty Joan Perske).

[edit] 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.

He is fluent in Hebrew, English, and French.

Peres gave a speech at Cornell University on November 28, 2006 [5] and will give one at Yale University on November 29, 2006.

[edit] Books

Shimon Peres is the author of several books, including:

[edit] Quotes

  • "When you win a war, your people are united and applaud you. When you make peace, your people are doubtful and resentful."
  • "If you want to serve the future, don't be afraid to belong to a minority."
  • "A godless man is not a human being."
  • "The president of Iran should remember that Iran can also be wiped off the map." - [6] May 8, 2006
  • "Iran is a great problem, but not necessarily a great country. I think as a matter of fact it's a very weak country." - [7] Nov 29, 2006

[edit] References

<references />

[edit] External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Political offices
Preceded by:
Moshe Dayan
Defense Minister of Israel
1974-1977
Succeeded by:
Ezer Weizman
Preceded by:
Yitzhak Rabin
Leader of the Labor Party
1977-1992
Succeeded by:
Yitzhak Rabin
Preceded by:
Yitzhak Shamir
Prime Minister of Israel
1984-1986
Succeeded by:
Yitzhak Shamir
Preceded by:
Moshe Nissim
Finance Minister of Israel
1988-1990
Succeeded by:
Yitzhak Shamir
Preceded by:
David Levy
Foreign Minister of Israel
1992-1995
Succeeded by:
Ehud Barak
Preceded by:
Yitzhak Rabin
Prime Minister of Israel
1995-1996
Succeeded by:
Benjamin Netanyahu
Preceded by:
Yitzhak Rabin
Defense Minister of Israel
1995-1996
Succeeded by:
Yitzhak Mordechai
Preceded by:
Yitzhak Rabin
Leader of the Labor Party
1995-1996
Succeeded by:
Ehud Barak
Preceded by:
Amram Mitzna
Leader of the Labor Party
2003-2005
Succeeded by:
Amir Peretz
Preceded by:
Shlomo Ben-Ami
Foreign Minister of Israel
2001-2003
Succeeded by:
Benjamin Netanyahu


ar:شمعون بيريز

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Shimon Peres

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