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Shimon Peres, the former Israeli President, dies aged 93

L’ex primo ministro e presidente della Repubblica di Israele è morto a 93 anni. Chi era davvero uno dei più importanti politici della storia del paese.

Shimon Peres, considered a historical representative of the Israeli Labour Party and one of the founding fathers of Israel, has died at the age of 93 two weeks after he suffered a stroke. He was hospitalised in critical conditions at the Sheba hospital in Tel Aviv.

Shimon Peres in visita alla Casa Bianca
Israel’s former president Shimon Peres visiting the White House (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

A man of peace

“I will continue to help build my country, with a deep belief that one day it will know peace,” said Shimon Peres, underlining his will to end hostilities with Palestine. Thanks to his contribution to the negotiations of the Oslo accords in 1993 – the first peace deal ever signed by Israelis and Palestinians – Peres was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. He shared the prize with then Israeli President Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Father of the nation

Shimon Peres was born in Poland in 1923 under the name of Shimon Perski. When he arrived in Mandatory Palestine, Israel didn’t even exist, as it was founded in 1948. Peres served as deputy Minister, Minister of Defence, Foreign Minister, Minister for Transport, Minister for Information and Immigration, Prime Minister and President. He was the President of Israel from 2007 to 2014. Peres continued being committed to promoting dialogue between Jews and Arabs through his own Foundation, the Peres Centre for Peace, and visiting world leaders fascinated by his charismatic character.

Shimon Peres
“I want that our Country is based on very deep historical roots, but also that it is projected towards the future, towards the successes of science”. © Brendan Smialowski/AFP/GettyImages

Shimon Peres’ shadows

Peace hasn’t been the only political element of Peres’ career. In 1970, when he was serving as Minister of Defence, he approved the first Jewish settlements in occupied West Bank, he was one of the supporters of the construction of the Dimona nuclear reactor, and was the responsible – as Prime Minister – for the Qana bombing, which killed 106 civilians in 1996. Under the military operation dubbed as Operation Grapes of Wrath, Israeli bombardiers hit the headquarters of the United Nations in Qana, Lebanon, demolishing the buildings in the area and burning alive 106 Lebanese and 4 UN peacekeepers (Blue Helmets).

Shimon Peres israel
Shimon Peres was one of the most important politicians in Israel’s history © Michael Kovac/WireImage

A Jewish state and an Arab state

Whichever aspect of Shimon Peres’ political career we decide to focus on, it’s undeniable that the former Israeli President understood the absolute urgency of a constructive dialogue between Israel and Palestine. “There is no alternative to peace. There is no sense to go to war,” he said while explaining the need to have “a Jewish state by the name of Israel and an Arab state by the name of Palestine not fighting each other but living together in friendship and cooperation”.

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