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Shimon Peres Is Mourned Worldwide

Shimon Peres Is Mourned Worldwide

A photograph of former Israeli President Shimon Peres is displayed before the start of a special cabinet meeting to mourn his death, in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2016. (Ronen Zvulun, AP)

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Thursday, 29 September 2016 11:06 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The world was plunged into mourning Wednesday after news broke of Shimon Peres' death at age 93.

Peres was one of the last of Israel’s founders. He died a few weeks after suffering a stroke.

President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande, and the United Kingdom’s Prince Charles were just some of the notables scheduled to attend the funeral Friday of the three-time Israeli prime minister.

Leaders of the Palestinian Directorate also joined in paying tribute to Peres. A pivotal figure in building Israel’s formidable defense armada in the 1950s, Peres went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 after reaching out to Israel’s sworn enemy, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Peres will perhaps be best remembered for his attempts at brokering a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians but his three stints in the prime minister’s office were all the result of circumstances that could only be called freakish.

In the subsequent elections that followed his succession to Israeli’s top job, Peres met defeat at the polls all three times.

In April 1977, then-Defense Minister Peres found himself acting prime minister after incumbent Yitzhak Rabin was force to leave office following revelations his wife had a bank account in the U.S. (which was then illegal under Israeli law).

Two months later, however, Israeli voters stunned the world by turning out Peres’s Labor Party (which had ruled Israel since its founding in 1948) in favor of the Likud (conservative) Party. Likud was led by Menachem Begin, widely considered a terrorist from his days in the 1940s as boss of the militant Irgun (paramilitary) group.

In 1984, Labor won more seats in the Knesset (parliament) than Likud. But, after its leader Peres could not cobble together a majority of lawmaker’s necessary to support a government, he entered into a unique “rotation” government: He would serve as prime minister and Likud leader Yitzhak Shamir would be foreign minister, with the two swapping jobs after two years.

Peres and Labor again met defeat at Likud’s hands in 1988 and Shamir became prime minister for a full term.

In 1992, Peres was ousted from the Labor leadership in the party’s first-ever U.S.-style primary by his old rival Rabin. Following elections later that year, Rabin led the party back to power and Peres became his foreign minister — only to find himself prime minister after Rabin’s assassination in November 1995.

Then, seven months after unexpectedly becoming prime minister, he led his party to defeat at the polls. This time it was at the hands of Benjamin Netanyahu, then and now head of the Likud Party and prime minister today.

 “He was far better at political maneuvering behind the scenes than as a politician and campaigner,” Marshall Breger, a former official in the Reagan and Bush administrations who knew Peres, told me. “Here was someone who was helping develop Israel’s defense and aviation capabilities before he was 30, who was negotiating with the French who were Israel’s most important ally until 1967, and who negotiated a stronger relationship with the U.S. when John Kennedy was president.”

Someone like that, Breger concluded, “is an insider, not a campaigner.”

Dr. Glen Feder of the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy told the “France24 Debate” program on Peres’ life Wednesday that the late prime minister’s failure to win elections was the result of his being seen “as wavering too much between the left and the right.”

Voters, Feder added, “saw him more as a grandfather than as a protector.”

Those who knew him cited his interests outside his work: writing poetry, collecting books, and, by all accounts, becoming a superb dancer.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.


 

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The world was plunged into mourning Wednesday after news broke of Shimon Peres' death at age 93.
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2016-06-29
Thursday, 29 September 2016 11:06 AM
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