Shimon Peres Passes
Israel former President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres passed away last night at the age of 93. He suffered a stroke two weeks ago and was in a medically induced coma.
Shimon Peres, considered to be one of the last of the founders of the state, played a major role in the history of the State of Israel.
Peres was born Szymon Perski in 1923 in the Polish town of Vishnyeva (now part of Belarus). His father Yitzhak was a wealthy timber merchant and his mother Sara was a librarian and a teacher of Russian.
The family immigrated to the Land of Israel (then Palestine) in 1934. Peres studied at Balfour Elementary School and High School and the Geula Gymnasium (a high school for commerce) in Tel Aviv. At the age of 15, he transferred to the Ben Shemen Agricultural School. In the 1950s, he studied at New York University and later at Harvard University.
Between the years 1941 to 1944, Peres served as the national secretary of the “Working and Learning Youth” group. It was while serving in this post that Peres became acquainted with the heads of the Jewish settlement in Palestine and became David Ben-Gurion’s political protégé.
In 1947, Peres joined the Haganah, where he was responsible for personnel, defensive acquisitions and military research. In 1949, he was appointed the head of the naval service in the Defense Ministry, and in 1950 he was made the director of the Defense Ministry’s delegation in the United States.
In 1952, Peres returned to Israel and was appointed the deputy director-general of the Defense Ministry. A year later, he was made the director-general. It was as part of this role that he promoted the construction of a nuclear reactor in Dimona, helped develop Israel’s aviation industry, and played an instrumental role in establishing close relations with France.
In 1959, he was elected to the Knesset as a member of Mapai and was appointed the deputy defense minister. Over the next two decades Peres held various ministerial posts and was instrumental in the formation of the Labor part. As defense minister in 1976, he connived then Prime Minister Rabin to launch the famous raid on Entebbe (Operation Thunderbolt).
After Rabin was forced to step down from office in 1977, Peres was appointed as acting Prime Minister and took over the leadership of the Labor party. In that same year Labor, for the first time in its history, lost the election to the Likud and Menachem Begin. It lost to Begin again in 1981.
After the 1984, Peres and Likud’s Yitzhak Shamir agreed to a rotating Prime Ministership, with each man serving a two year term. During his term Peres implemented an Economic Stabilization Plan, which saved the Israeli economy from collapse and reduced the hyperinflation that reached 400% a year. He also oversaw the IDF withdrawal from most of Lebanon. In 1987 he negotiating a peace agreement with Jordan, which was rejected by Shamir because it gave Jordan joint administration over the West Bank with Israel.
In 1988, in the second unity government, Peres served as the deputy prime minister and finance minister. In 1990, Peres attempted to form a narrow government made up of the left-wing factions and the ultra-Orthodox parties. But the move, known as “The Dirty Trick,” failed when the ultra-Orthodox parties backed out, leaving Peres no choice but to resign from the unity government.
In 1992 Yitzhak Rabin replaced Peres as the head of the Labor party and went on to become Prime Minister. Despite the intense rivalry between the two men, Rabin appointed Peres as Foreign Minister. During his term Peres carried out secret negotiations with Yassir Arafat that led to the signing of the Oslo accords. Along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.
After Rabin was assassinated on November 4, 1995, Peres became the acting prime minister, as well as the defense minister and the economy and planning minister. In the 1996 elections, in which people voted directly for Prime Minister, Peres lost to Benjamin Netanyahu by a small margin.
Under the Prime Ministership of Ehud Barak in 1999, Peres served as Minister of Regional Cooperation. Under the unity government led by Ariel Sharon in 2001 he served as Foreign Minister and in 2005 as Deputy Prime Minister.
In 2005 Peres left Labor and joined Ariel Sharon’s new Kadima party. He was elected to Knesset in 2006 and appointed Minister for the Development of the Negev, Galilee and Regional Economy under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
In 2007 Peres won the election for President of Israel, and served in that role until 2014. He was known internationally as an ambassador of peace and a proponent of economic development.
Peres was married to Sonya Gelman Peres for 75 years, until her death in 2011. Peres leaves behind three children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
May his memory serve as a blessing.
To see historical and personal photos of Shimon Peres click here.
Israeli leaders along with world leaders mourned the passing of Shimon Peres.
PM Netanyahu said:
“Shimon dedicated his life to the independence of our nation. As a visionary, he looked to the future. As a man of defense, he fortified the strength of Israel in many ways—some remain unknown to this very day. As a man of peace, he worked up to his final days to promote reconciliation with our neighbors and a better future for our children.”
“In his seven years as the president of Israel, he’s done much to unite the people, and the people responded with great love. There aren’t many people in our history who contributed so much to the State of Israel and the people of Israel.”
“I met Shimon for the first time 40 years ago at the grave of my brother Yoni. I will never forget his warm treatment of me, my brother Iddo and my parents, at the time of our loss.”
“And now, Shimon, the beloved of the nation, is saying goodbye to us. But he will never be away from our hearts and memories. Shimon Peres’s name will be forever etched in the story of the Jewish people’s independence, as one of the great leaders and founding fathers of the State of Israel.”
To read what other Israeli leaders said about Peres, click here.
To read what President Obama and other past Presidents and world leaders said, click here.