Shimon Peres

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Peres, Shimon

(shē`mōn pâr`ĕs), 1923–2016, Israeli politician, b. Wiszniew, Poland (now Vishnyeva, Belarus) as Shimon Perski. His family immigrated to Palestine in 1934; his grandparents, who remained in Poland, were killed in the HolocaustHolocaust
, name given to the period of persecution and extermination of European Jews by Nazi Germany. Romani (Gypsies), homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, the disabled, and others were also victims of the Holocaust.
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. Before the establishment of Israel (1949) he served as manpower chief of the Haganah, the fledgling Jewish military. He subsequently was Israel's head of naval services and became director-general of the defense ministry in 1951.

Peres was first elected to the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in 1959. Instrumental in the formation of the Labor party (1968), Peres was minister of defense from 1974 to 1977, when he was elected party chairman. After losing two bids (1977 and 1981) for the prime ministership, he alternated (1984–86) in the office with Likud party leader Yitzhak ShamirShamir, Yitzhak
, 1915–2012, Zionist activist and Israeli politician, b. Poland. Emigrating (1935) to Palestine, he was twice arrested by the British for participating in a militant Jewish organization; in 1946 he fled to France.
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 in a national unity government and was widely praised for helping to remove Israeli troops from Lebanon and for slashing runaway inflation. He was later foreign minister (1986) and, after again losing to Shamir (1988), finance minister in unity governments led by the prime minister.

In 1992, Yitzhak RabinRabin, Yitzhak
, 1922–95, Israeli general and statesman, b. Jerusalem, the first native-born prime minister of Israel (1974–77, 1992–95). His extensive military experience began in 1940 when he joined the Haganah (Jewish militia) and thereafter fought in the
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, who had just ousted Peres as Labor party leader, became prime minister and appointed Peres foreign minister. Peres negotiated the historic Oslo peace accords (1993) with the Palestine Liberation OrganizationPalestine Liberation Organization
(PLO), coordinating council for Palestinian organizations, founded (1964) by Egypt and the Arab League and initially controlled by Egypt.
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 (PLO), for which he was awarded, with Rabin and PLO leader Yasir ArafatArafat, Yasir or Yasser
, 1929–2004, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the coordinating body for Palestinian organizations, and head of Al Fatah, the largest group in the PLO.
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, the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize. In Nov., 1995, Rabin was assassinated, and Peres succeeded him as prime minister and defense minister. In the May, 1996, elections he narrowly lost the prime ministership to the Likud candidate Benjamin NetanyahuNetanyahu, Benjamin or Binyamin
, 1949–, Israeli diplomat and politician, prime minister of Israel (1996–99, 2009–), b. Tel Aviv.
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.

After the 1999 election of Ehud BarakBarak, Ehud
, 1942–, Israeli military and political leader, prime minister of Israel (1999–2001). The son of East European immigrants in Palestine, he was born Ehud Brog, later adopting the Hebrew name Barak [lightning].
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 as prime minister, Peres was named minister of regional cooperation. In 2000 he was defeated in a Knesset election for the largely ceremonial position of president of Israel. Following Barak's defeat (2001) by Ariel SharonSharon, Ariel
, 1928–2014, Israeli general and politician, b. Kfar Malal as Ariel Scheinerman. As a teenager he joined the Haganah, the underground Zionist military brigade, and took his Hebrew name from the Sharon Plain, where he worked in 1947.
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, Peres became foreign minister in a government of national unity (2001–2) and later vice prime minister in a Likud-and-Labor-dominated coalition government (2005). Meanwhile, he again became party leader in 2003, but lost the post in late 2005 to Amir Peretz. Subsequently, Peres lent his support to Sharon's formation (2005) of the centrist Kadima party. Under Prime Minister Ehud OlmertOlmert, Ehud
, 1945–, Israeli politician. After serving in the army and working as a lawyer, he won election to the Knesset in 1973 as a Likud candidate. Under Prime Minister Shamir he was minister without portfolio (1988–90) and minister of health (1990–92).
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, Sharon's successor, Peres served (2006–7) as vice prime minister and minister for the development of the Negev and Galilee. From 2007 to 2014 he was president of Israel. Peres was the author of a dozen books including a memoir, Battling for Peace (1995).