Ex Israeli PM, Shimon Peres is dead

shimon-peres

Shimon Peres, who served twice as Israel’s Prime Minister and once as President, has died at the age of 93.

Mr Peres suffered a stroke two weeks ago. His condition had improved before a sudden deterioration on Tuesday.

Mr Peres was one of the last of a generation of Israeli politicians present at the new nation’s birth in 1948.

He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his role negotiating peace accords with the Palestinians a year earlier.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his “deep personal sorrow over the passing of the nation’s beloved former president”.

The Queen made Mr Peres an honorary knight in 2008 for his work on the peace process and for furthering Anglo-Israeli relations.

Meanwhile US President Barack Obama called Mr Peres his “dear friend, guided by a vision of the human dignity and progress that he knew people of goodwill could advance together.

Born in Poland in 1923, Mr Peres moved with his family to Tel Aviv in the 1930s during the time of the British mandate in Palestine.

He joined the Labour Zionist movement and then the Haganah, the underground Jewish paramilitary force that would later become the Israeli Defence Forces.

He became a close aide to David Ben-Gurion, who would become Israel’s first prime minister, and Mr Ben-Gurion tasked him with sourcing guns for the Haganah in preparation for the war between Arabs and Jews which broke out in 1948.

Mr Peres spent much of the following years helping to arm Israel’s fledgling military, often by circumventing arms embargoes and eventually by negotiating with US and European powers to send weapons to the Jewish state.

He also played a major role in Israel’s secret development of a nuclear weapons programme in the 1960s.

“What water is to agriculture, armaments are to security. Israel suffers from a shortage of both,” Mr Peres wrote in his book David’s Sling.

He was first elected to the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, in 1959 and would serve as a member of parliament continually until 2007 with only one three-month break.

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