Shimon Peres (Hebrew: שמעון פרס), born Szymon Perski, was an Israeli politician who served both as ninth President of Israel, (2007 to 2014) and Prime Minister of Israel, as well as Interim Prime Minister. He was a member of twelve cabinets in a political career spanning 70 years. Peres was elected to the Knesset in November 1959 and, except for a three-month-long hiatus in early 2006, was in office continuously until 2007, when he became President, being in that role for another seven years. At the time of his retirement in 2014, he was the world's oldest head of state. He was considered the last link to Israel's founding generation.
From a young age, he was renowned for his oratorical brilliance, and was chosen as a protégé by David Ben Gurion, Israel's founding father. He began his political career in the late 1940s, holding several diplomatic and military positions during and directly after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. His first high-level government position was as Deputy Director-General of Defense in 1952 which he attained at the age of 28, and Director-General from 1953 until 1959. In 1956, he took part in the historic negotiations on the Protocol of Sèvres described by British Prime Minister Anthony Eden as the "highest form of statesmanship".
In 1963, he held negotiations with U.S. President John F. Kennedy, which resulted in the sale of Hawk anti-aircraft missiles to Israel, the first sale of U.S. military equipment to Israel. On October 26, 1994, Jordan and Israel signed the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, which had been initiated by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. 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. During his career, he represented five political parties in the Knesset: Mapai, Rafi, the Alignment, Labor and Kadima, and led Alignment and Labor. In 1996, he founded the Peres Center for Peace, which has the aim of "promoting lasting peace and advancement in the Middle East by fostering tolerance, economic and technological development, cooperation and well-being.". In July 2016, he founded the 'Israel innovation center' in the Arab neighbourhood of Ajami, Jaffa, aiming to encourage young people from around the world to be inspired by technology.
Peres was polyglot, speaking Polish, French, English, Russian, Yiddish and Hebrew, although he never lost his Polish accent when speaking in Hebrew. In his private life, he was a poet and songwriter, writing stanzas during cabinet meetings, with some of his poems later being recorded as songs in albums. As a result of his deep literary interests, he could quote from Hebrew prophets, French literature, and Chinese philosophy with equal ease.
After suffering a stroke, Peres died on September 28, 2016 near Tel Aviv.
Born 2nd August 1923 in Wiszniew, Poland
Died 28th September 2016 in Sheba Medical Center, Tel HaShomer, Ramat Gan, Israel
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