Shimon Peres – The giant of Israeli politics and a believer of peace

Shimon Peres died in September 2016 at the age of 93.

Updated: Dec 16, 2016, 09:09 AM IST
Shimon Peres – The giant of Israeli politics and a believer of peace

Shimon Peres, who died in September 2016 at the age of 93, is hailed as one of the tallest leaders of Israel and whom, in the words of Zionist Union Chairman Isaac Herzog, people listened to around the world. Although he was part of his nation's top leadership for many years, his moment of glory came when he shared a Nobel Prize for forging a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

He retired from public office in 2014 after the end of his seven-year term as President. He left behind a rich political legacy as he had held virtually every position in the Cabinet - from minister of defence to Prime Minister (three times).

As Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's foreign minister, Peres concluded the Oslo Peace Accords (signed in Washington in 1993 and Taba, Egypt in 1995) and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 with Rabin and Yasser Arafat (the then chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation) for it.

However, soon after, he suffered setbacks when Rabin was assassinated in 1995 and Peres became PM, calling for early elections. A spate of Palestinian suicide attacks made it difficult for Peres to defend the peace process and later cost him the next election. And though he ran for PM five times between 1977 and 1996, he never won a national election outright.

Nonetheless, he never stopped believing in peace and said in 2015 on the 20th anniversary of Rabin's assassination - "Peace is costly. Only thing is, war costs more."

No wonder, upon his retirement, he devoted his time to the Peres Center for Peace, which works to build better ties between Israelis and Palestinians. And when asked how he wanted to be remembered, Peres had said in 2004 - "I would like that somebody would write about me that I saved the life of one single child. This will satisfy more than anything else."

When Peres passed away tributes poured from around the world. Paying his tributes, US President Barack Obama's who stated - “There are few people who we share this world with who change the course of human history, not just through their role in human events, but because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect more of ourselves.”