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Shimon Peres (1923–2016)

by Kirk Fox

Nobel Peace Prize winner formerly served as Israel’s president and prime minister.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres, a former president and prime minister of Israel, died Sept. 27, 2016. He was 93.

Born in Poland in 1923, Peres was involved in the military and government of the modern state of Israel since its establishment in 1948. Appointed director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Defense in 1953, Peres was involved in planning during the run-up to the 1956 Suez Crisis. Though the invasion of Egypt by Israel, Great Britain, and France ultimately failed, Peres was instrumental in brokering strategic alliances with the European powers.


Peres was elected to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in 1959 and served in a series of ministerial positions over the following decades, including prime minister from 1984 to 1986. Peres became Yitzhak Rabin’s foreign minister in 1992. He was involved during this time in secret negotiations with the PLO, leading to the history Oslo Accords, a framework for a peace process that resulted in a 1994 Nobel Peace Prize that Peres shared with Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat. After Rabin’s assassination in 1995, Peres served as interim prime minister until elections in 1996.

In 2007, Peres became president of Israel, a position elected by members of the Knesset. The presidency required him to resign the Knesset seat he had held for more than 47 years, making him the longest serving legislator in the country’s history. He was 90 when his presidential term ended in 2014, and he retired from active government service. He suffered a massive stroke in September 2016.

Peres is survived by a daughter, Dr. Tsvia Walden, and two sons, Yoni Peres and Nehemia Peres. His wife, Sonya, preceded him in death in 2011.

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