Old master of israeli politics

At the second attempt, Shimon Peres has made it. The 83-year-old was elected Israel's ninth president in the Knesset on Wednesday. Of the 120 members of parliament, 86 voted in the second round for the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former deputy head of government. For Peres, the election marks the culmination of a long political journey. He begins his seven-year term as head of state in mid-July.

Peres stood for election as early as 2000. But at the time he was narrowly defeated by parliamentary lightweight Moshe Katzav, who has now had to vacate the post of head of state. Peres, who has held almost every office Israeli politics has to offer, whose work has left a mark of reconstruction in Israeli society, is also respected among his compatriots. Only the popularity he enjoys abroad is still lacking in Israel today.For many Israelis, the high point of Peres' career was marked by an embrace. Thousands of people filled Tel Aviv's City Hall Square on the November night of 1995. The peace hymn had just faded away when Yitzhak Rabin turned and walked toward Shimon Peres. Hesitant at first, but then determined, the prime minister embraced his foreign minister. The cheering crowd saw the embrace of two arch-rivals in Israeli politics whose peace policies had made them companions in arms. A short time later, Rabin fell victim to the fatal shots of an assassin.Peres always had his eye on the future and accepted being ridiculed as a visionary. In Israel, however, voters never saw him as the future; they heard his Polish accent above all as the past: the accent of the Jewish diaspora. Indirect recognition for Peres was the decision by "settlement father" Ariel Sharon to evacuate Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip. Sharon was on friendly terms with Peres for decades, but only the eviction made them political companions.Peres remained alone as he repeatedly called for new negotiations with the Palestinians. He remained alone when he was the only minister to voice reservations about an invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 2006. Only after the debacle did other ministers follow him on the path to new negotiations with the Palestinians: "There is no one else – Abbas or Hamas. Hamas is out of the question, so only Abbas can be considered."If Peres' reputation abroad is almost exclusively as a peace politician, in Israel his military work from the founding years is unforgotten. At 25, he became head of the Navy Department in the Ministry of Defense. In 1959 he entered the Knesset and became Deputy Defense Minister. This period saw the beginnings of Israel's military industry, of which Peres is considered the godfather.It was also the time when Israel's nuclear program got its top-secret start. "At the time, the reactor was popularly known as the Peres Textile Factory. From the expansion of scientific institutions to the road network, Peres was always involved. He became prime minister in 1984 in a one-time rotating coalition. Once again he came to high office after after Rabin assassination. His greatest triumph was the Oslo peace agreement of 1993. For his involvement he received the Nobel Peace Prize. When Peres lost the presidency of the Labor Party to Amir Perez in 2005, he joined Sharon's Kadima party.

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