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Blueprint for Peace
One of the architects of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords, an agreement between Israel and Palestine, Shimon Peres has been involved in the government of Israel since 1952. During his long political career he held many cabinet positions, including Prime Minister. In 2007, the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, elected Peres as its President.
Born in Poland in 1923, Peres spent the formative years of his youth under the tutelage of his grandfather, Rabbi Zvi Meltzer, where he learned the Talmud and followed Haredi Judaism, which is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism. In 1934, Peres and his family moved to Tel Aviv, which was still part of Palestine. During World War II, all of Peres’ remaining relatives in Poland were killed for their religious beliefs.
Peres began his career in government when he was appointed Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Defense in 1952. He became a Member of the Knesset, Israel’s legislative body in 1959, but is perhaps best known for his work as Israel’s Foreign Minister starting in 1986.
As foreign minister, Shimon Peres participated in 14 separate meetings in Oslo, Norway, with Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat negotiating a path to peace. Throughout the lengthy meetings, both sides stayed in the same residence and often shared meals together, leading to a growing bond between the people involved. The Oslo Peace Accords were eventually signed by both sides on September 13, 1993 at the White House in Washington, D.C.
The Nobel Peace Prize 1994 was awarded jointly to Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East. In his Nobel acceptance speech Peres stated that "classical diplomacy and strategy were aimed at identifying enemies and confronting them. Now they have to identify dangers, global or local, and tackle them before they become disasters."
In 2007 Peres was chosen by Kadima, a centrist and liberal political party in Israel, to run for President. Peres was elected by the Knesset on June 13, 2007. He was sworn in as President on July 15, 2007 for a seven-year term. He is the first former Prime Minister to be elected President of Israel. He continues to work on building a peaceful future as the President of Israel.