MR ISRAEL – Shimon Peres: 1923 – 2016
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MR ISRAEL – Shimon Peres: 1923 – 2016

Shimon Peres passes away aged 93 after having served and embodied Israel throughout his life

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor

Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres has died in hospital in Tel Aviv after his health deteriorated rapidly on Tuesday. He was 93.

The much-loved former Israeli president and prime minister suffered a stroke on 13 September, but doctors had been optimistic of a recovery.

However, on Tuesday morning it was reported that the national icon was “fighting for his life” and his family were called to the Sheba Medical Center later that afternoon.

Born in Wiszniew in Poland (now Belarus) in 1923, Peres joined his father Palestine in 1934. In his teens he lived on a kibbutz, before joining the youth wing of David Ben-Gurion’s centre-left party.

He joined the Haganah, the precursor to the IDF, and was even arrested by the British while on an illegal settlement-scouting mission in the Negev, but cut his geopolitical teeth in the run-up to the Suez War in 1956, during which time he held secret talks with the French, who agreed to arm Israel.

His election to the Knesset in 1959 set in train a long and distinguished parliamentary career, in which he was a leading figure in left-wing Israeli politics. He was, at various times, minister of defence, immigration and absorption, regional cooperation, transport, finance and foreign affairs, serving in 12 cabinets. He was twice prime minister and – latterly – president.

In 1994 he won the Nobel Peace Prize together with Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for their work producing the Oslo Accords.

Peres, who remained active in public life, suffered a massive stroke two weeks ago, while he was in hospital for a check-up. Scans revealed extensive bleeding on the brain and he was placed under sedation.

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