Last night, Shimon Peres passed away at Tel Hashomer Hospital in Tel Aviv, two weeks after suffering a stroke. Peres was 93 years old when he passed away.
A protege of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, Peres first came into prominence in the Israeli government as Deputy Director-General of Defense in 1952, and then as Director-General from 1953 until 1959. Due to his tireless work, the fledgling state was able to acquire weapons essential to its survival.
Also in that position, he developed warm relations with France, convincing them to sell Israel the he advanced Dassault Mirage III French jet fighter. Peres also convinced France to help Israel build the nuclear reactor in Dimona, which was begun in 1958. For his part in bringing the two countries closer, Perez was awarded Francee’s highest medal: the French Legion of Honor.
He served as Deputy Defense Minister until 1965. 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 1977, Prime Minister Ytzchak Rabin stepped down from his position due to a scandal involving foreign funds belonging to his wife. Peres became the unofficial acting Prime Minister but was defeated in the next elections by Menachem Begin (Likud).
After the 1984 elections resulted in a failure to choose a prime minister, Peres’ Alignment Party and Yitzchak Shamir’s Likud agreed to a unity government and a rotation arrangement, in which Peres served as Prime Minister for two years, and in 1986, became Israel’s Foreign Minister.
In As Israel’s Foreign Minister, Peres won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize together with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat for his part in bringing about the Oslo Accords.
After Rabin’s assassination in 1995, Peres served as Acting Prime Minister and Acting Defense Minister for seven months until the 1996 elections.
His final position in his long and illustrious career serving the State of Israel was as its ninth president from 2007 until 20014. He authored 12 books and founded the Peres Center for Peace.
Born in Poland in 1923, his family made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) in 1932. Peres’ wife, Sonya, passed away in 2011. He is survived by a daughter and two sons, eight grandchildren, and many grandchildren.