Shimon Peres: Israel’s warrior for peace dies

An archive portrait taken on January 14, 1985 in Jerusalem shows Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres speaking.   AFP PHOTO ESAIAS BAITEL / AFP / ESAIAS BAITEL        (Photo credit should read ESAIAS BAITEL/AFP/Getty Images)
Shimon Peres died at 93
01:06 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Peres was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat

"Peace is costly," Peres once said. "Only thing is, war costs more"

Tel Aviv, Israel CNN  — 

Shimon Peres, the Israeli elder statesman who shared a Nobel Prize for forging a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, has died. He served as a constant force for generations in Israeli politics.

The 93-year-old died after suffering a massive stroke two weeks ago. He was reported to be making progress but doctors said he took a turn for the worse Tuesday.

In top leadership roles over the decades – including Prime Minister and President – the Labor Party veteran became a face of the Jewish State, instantly recognized and well-respected in Israel and across the globe.

“There’s no corner of this country that he hasn’t touched,” Zionist Union Chairman Isaac Herzog once said. “Everywhere he goes around the world, people listen to him.”

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (L), Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres (C) and Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin display their Nobel Peace Prizes.

Over 50 years in politics

Peres retired from public office in 2014 after the end of his seven-year term as President. In Israeli politics for more than half a century, he held virtually every position in Cabinet, from minister of defense to Prime Minister, a position he held three times.

He battled Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for Labor Party leadership in the 1980s and 1990s, eventually becoming Rabin’s foreign minister.

In that role, Peres concluded the Oslo Peace Accords, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 with Rabin and Yasser Arafat.

“I am very grateful to him for a lifetime of thinking big thoughts and dreaming big dreams and figuring out practical ways to achieve them,” President Bill Clinton once said of a man he considered a friend.

People we’ve lost in 2016

After Rabin was assassinated in 1995, Peres became Prime Minister, calling early elections so the government would have a mandate to pursue a two-state solution. But a wave of Palestinian suicide attacks left Peres struggling to defend the peace process, ultimately costing him the next election.

Making history

As Israel’s ninth President, he addressed the Turkish parliament in 2007, becoming the first Israeli President to speak to a Muslim country’s legislature. He called for peace talks in 2011 with the Palestinians and warned the United Nations against recognizing Palestine as an independent state outside a peace plan. He received the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 from President Barack Obama.

After leaving office in 2014 he remained in the public eye, continuing his work for peace in the Middle East.

Peres was 93.

Story of modern-day Israel

Born in Wisniew, Poland, in 1923, Peres moved to British-mandate Palestine in 1932, where his story became the story of modern day Israel.

During Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, he was in charge of purchasing weapons for the Israeli military. He was briefly head of the navy and helped establish the country’s aircraft industry. In the 1950s, he founded the country’s nuclear program, which remains shrouded in secrecy to this day. He would often refer to it as Israel’s “textile industry.”

Peres held many cabinet positions, including transportation secretary.

Peres entered politics in 1959 as a member of the left-wing Mapai party, a precursor to the modern Labor party. His political career lasted more than half a century, and he held virtually every position in Israel’s Cabinet.

He was Prime Minister three times, but never won an election. He became acting Prime Minister in 1977 when Yitzhak Rabin resigned following a foreign bank account scandal. He became Prime Minister again in a unity government with Yitzhak Shamir in 1984. His final term as Prime Minister came when he stepped into the premiership following the assassination of Rabin in 1995.

Shimon Peres 01

‘He never got the public love’

Many Israelis considered him aloof – an intellectual who wore a suit, not a uniform.

“He never got the public love that he was yearning for,” said Ethan Dor Shav, an Associate Fellow at Jerusalem’s Shalem Center. “He was never hugged by the populace of Israel as our leader.”

When Rabin was assassinated, Peres became Prime Minister for the third and final time, calling early elections so that the government would have a mandate to pursue a two-state solution.

But a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings and other attacks tarnished his peace process.