Pivotal moments in the life of an icon

The life and death of Shimon Peres.

April 16, 2017 10:03
3 minute read.
Jewish leadership

Shimon Peres. (photo credit: MARK NEYMAN / GPO)


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Brought into the Hagana by David Ben-Gurion and put in charge of recruitment and acquisition of arms for the nascent state.


Becomes deputy director-general of the Defense Ministry and guilefully purchases arms for the Jewish state, despite various international restrictions, forming a strong alliance with France, which sells Israel Dassault Mirage III fighter jets and other war materiel.


Lays the basis for the Sinai invasion and Israel’s alleged nuclear weapons program, when he leads Israel to sign the Protocol of Sèvres whereby France, Britain and Israel agree to topple Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser through an Israeli invasion of the Sinai Peninsula and a French and British occupation of the Suez Canal. In return for Israeli help, the French agree to supply Israel with a research nuclear reactor at Dimona which, allegedly, becomes the central component of an Israeli nuclear weapons program.


Elected to the Knesset for the first time as a member of the Mapai party and became the deputy defense minister.

THEN-DEFENSE MINISTRY director-general Shimon Peres (seated second right) attends a meeting of the IDF General Staff with prime minister David Ben-Gurion in 1961. Peres is sitting between finance minster Levi Eshkol and agriculture minister Moshe Dayan. (GPO)


Appointed defense minister in prime minister’s Yitzhak Rabin’s government, during which time he is supportive of the settlement enterprise and helps establish the first Israeli settlement in the West Bank, Ofra, in 1975. He later turns against the goals of Jewish settlement in the West Bank as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.


Steps in as acting prime minister when Rabin is forced to step down due to a scandal over his wife’s foreign currency bank account. Is defeated as head of the Alignment in the general election that year by Likud leader and new prime minister Menachem Begin.


As head of the Alignment, is narrowly defeated again in the general election that year, after opposing and criticizing Israel’s bombing of Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor.


Under Peres, the Alignment becomes the biggest party in the Knesset, but cannot form a governing coalition and so enters into a national unity government with the Likud. Peres and Likud leader Yitzhak Shamir agree to a two year alternating prime ministership, starting with Peres.


The Alignment, with Peres at its head, defeated by the Likud.


Becomes foreign minister when Labor wins the general election under Rabin.


Prompted by his deputy minister Yossi Beilin, Peres helped nurture the evolving initiative to form a peace agreement with the Palestinians, ultimately ratified as the Oslo Accords, signed at the White House in Washington on September 13, 1993.

PERES receives the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, in 1994 alongside Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat. (GPO)


Becomes acting prime minister yet again, after Rabin was assassinated by Israeli extremist Yigal Amir. 1996 A spate of Hamas suicide bombings dents public support for the Oslo Accords and the Labor Party. Benjamin Netanyahu at the head of the Likud narrowly defeats Peres in the direct election for prime minister.

PERES on a tour with the IDF after becoming prime minister following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. (GPO)


Defeated by Moshe Katsav in the election in the Knesset for president.


As head of Labor, joins the government led by prime minister Ariel Sharon to support his disengagement plan from Gaza, which is enacted in August 2005.

Peres subsequently leaves the Labor Party and joins Sharon’s newly formed Kadima party in November 2005.


Elected as the ninth president of the state by the Knesset.


Steps down as president and is succeeded by Reuven Rivlin.

September 28, 2016

Dies two weeks after suffering severe stroke.

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