Who was Shimon Peres?

5 March 2018

Shimon Peres was an important politician in Israel. In 1958 he started his political career. Before that, he was involved in the development of the young State of Israel that was established not before 1948. Peres was a member of the Labor and Kadima parties. In the years to follow, he was appointed Prime Minister of Israel twice, and from 2007 till 2014 he was President of the country. It was especially in these latter years that he was engaged in the peace negotiations with the Middle East.

Peres’ early years

Peres was born in the Polish village of Wiszniew (now Vishnyeva, Belarus). He grew up in a Jewish community and his grandfather taught him everything there is to know about Judaism. In 1943 Shimon and his parents emigrated to Tel Aviv in former Palestine, under control by the British. In school, he was trained as an agrarian, after which he started working in a kibbutz. Here he came into contact with the Zionistic movement that was aiming for an independent Israel. After his twentieth birthday, he joined the army, the Haganah. This was the predecessor of the IDF, the Israeli Defence Force.

During his time in the army, Peres was admitted into the “Red House” in Tel Aviv at the invitation of the president. He reinforced the army and started together with David Ben Gurion and Ernest David Bergmann, Israel’s first nuclear program.


In 1959 Shimon was elected in the Knesset, the Israel Parliament. He held different ministerial offices, like Defence and Foreign Affairs. During his time as Minister of Foreign Affairs, he played an important role in the coming about of the Oslo Accords. These Accords were officially signed in 1993 in the United States and were the first blueprint to solve the Palestinian conflict by means of Palestinian self-government and a Palestinian National Authority. Shimon Peres signed the agreement on behalf of the Israeli government. As a result of this, he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.

During the 2007 elections, Peres was elected President of Israel. During his term as the ninth president of Israel, he continued to negotiate with the Palestinians. In 2014 the by then ninety-year-old Peres was succeeded by Reuven Rivlin. At that moment Peres was the oldest head of state in the world. Two years later his health began to deteriorate rapidly. After several admissions to the hospital in 2016, he suffered a stroke which resulted in a coma. A couple of days later he died in Tel Aviv at the age of 93.