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last updated June 27, 2009 10:8 AM (EST+7)
Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres was elected as the ninth president of Israel by the Knesset on June 13, 2007. Prior to serving as president, Peres has been prime minister between 1984 and 1986, and again between 1995 and 1996. He has also served as a foreign minister during three terms 1986 – 1988, 1992 – 1995 and 2001 – 2002.

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Peres was born in Belarus in 1923 and immigrated to British Mandate Palestine with his family in 1934. He was brought up in Tel Aviv and attended the agricultural high school at Ben Shemen. He also spent several years in Kibbutz Geva and Kibbutz Alumot, which he helped to found. In 1943 he was elected secretary of the Labor-Zionist youth movement.

In the late forties, Peres joined the Haganah (Zionist military organization) and was assigned responsibility for manpower and arms. He has been closely associated with the development of defense capabilities. During and after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, Peres served as head of the Israel’s Navy, and later headed the defense ministry’s delegation to the United States. While in the US he studied at the New York School for Social Research as well as at Harvard University.

In 1952, he joined the ministry of defense, and a year later he was appointed director general. He remained director general until 1959. During that period, he promoted strategic ties with France which culminated in strategic cooperation during the 1956 Suez Crisis. Peres helped to mastermind the Sinai campaign, and he also established Israel’s electronic aircraft industries, as well as its nuclear program.

In 1959, Peres was elected a member of Knesset as a member of the Mapai Labor Party, and remained a member until his election as President in June 2007.  Between 1959 and 1965 he served as deputy minister of defense. In 1965, he left Mapai with David Ben Gurion, and was elected secretary general of Rafi, the Israel workers’ List and in 1967 he played a large role in forming a union between Rafi and Mapai, thereby establishing the Israel Labor Party.

Peres was appointed minister of immigrant absorption in 1969. He also undertook responsibility for ‘the development of the occupied territories’.  Between 1970 and 1974 he served as minister of transport and communications. In 1974, he briefly served as minister of information in Golda Meir’s government and was then appointed minister of defense, having run for prime minister following Meir’s resignation after the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

While serving as minister of defense, he strengthened the Israeli military and participated in the disengagement negotiations that led to the 1975 interim agreement with Egypt. He was also behind the Entebbe rescue operation in 1976 and authored the ‘Good Fence’ concept, promoting positive relations with residents of southern Lebanon.

Following the resignation of Yitzhak Rabin in 1977, Peres briefly served as acting prime minister. After the 1977 elections, in which Labor was defeated after thirty years of political hegemony, Peres was elected chairman of the Labor party, a position he held until 1992. During this time he was also elected vice president of the socialist international.

From 1984 until 1986, Shimon Peres served as prime minister in the national unity government, following the 1984 elections in which the Labor Party became the largest representation in the Knesset. His tenure as prime minister was based on a rotation arrangement with Likud leader, Yitzhak Shamir. Between 1986 and 1988 he served as vice premier and minister of foreign affairs. Then, from November 1988, until the dissolution of the national unity government in 1990, Peres served as deputy prime minister and minister of finance. During the period from 1984 until 1990, he focused his attention on improving the failing economy and the complex situation resulting from the 1982 war in Lebanon.

The Labor Party returned to government in July 1992, and Peres was re-appointed minister of foreign affairs. During his term in office he initiated negotiations with Jordan and conducted the negotiations that led to the signing of the Declaration of Principles (DoP) in 1993. he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Rabin and Yasser Arafat.

Peres became prime minister for the second time after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. He served as prime minister and minister of defense until the 1996 elections. After the 1996 elections placed Labor in opposition, Peres served as chairman of the Labor party and head of the opposition for a year. In June 1997 he resigned, and Ehud Barak was elected chairman.

In October 1997 Peres established the Peres center for peace, with the aim of advancing Arab-Israeli joint ventures.

From July 1999 until March 2001, after Barak became prime minister, Peres was minister for regional cooperation.  In 1999 he was also made honorary president of the Socialist International.  In March 2001, he was appointed minister of foreign affairs in the national unity government formed by Ariel Sharon.  He resigned in October 2002 with the other Labor ministers.

Following the 2003 elections, Peres again served as a member of Knesset, and in June 2003 he was elected chairman of the Labor party again, heading the opposition. From January 2005 he served as vice premier to Ariel Sharon, until November 2005, when Labor resigned from the government. While serving as vice premier, he was active in the disengagement process from the Gaza Strip.

Before the elections to the 17th Knesset, Peres left Labor to join the newly formed Kadima party. After Kadima won the March 2006 elections, he served as vice premier and minister for the development of the Negev and Galilee from May 2006 until June 2007.  On June 13, 2007, following the resignation of Moshe Katsav, the Knesset elected Shimon Peres as the Ninth President of Israel.
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