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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Shimon Peres, Israeli statesman and Nobel Peace Prize winner, passes on at 93

Shimon Peres, an Israeli statesman who helped build his country into a nuclear-armed regional military power, shared a Nobel Peace Prize for laying out a short-lived framework for peace with the Palestinians and more recently defended Israel’s controversial military actions in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, died early Wednesday at a hospital in Tel Aviv. He was 93. The cause was complications from a massive stroke earlier in the month, the Israeli government announced. He has been hospitalised for the last two (2) weeks.

Mr. Peres, who held nearly every high office in his country and whose influence spanned 10 U.S. presidencies, was the last of a generation of politicians who came of age as Israel did and helped guide it through regional conflicts and economic restructuring.

In addition to having been the president and serving as Prime minister three times - once briefly in an acting capacity - he had been Foreign minister, Information minister, Finance minister and Defense minister. It was during his time as defense minister that Israel pulled off the exquisitely orchestrated 1976 rescue of Israeli hostages at Entebbe International Airport in Uganda.

After more than a half-century of involvement in the most important events of Israel’s history, Mr. Peres had become “the grand old man of Israeli politics,” said Chuck Freilich, a senior fellow at Harvard’s international security program and a former deputy national security adviser of Israel. “You could feel his influence everywhere.”

Yet Mr. Peres left a complex legacy. At every stage in his political career, the European-born Mr. Peres had to fight the sense that he was insincere, consummately political and opportunistic. He never passed for an Israeli-born sabra and always seemed to be slightly removed from the country he led.

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