Peres was born in Poland (today's White Russia)
in 1923. In 1934, as a child,
he emigrated to Palestine with his family. He studied at the Ben Shemen Agricultural
School and was one of
the founders of a kibbutz in the Jordan Valley. In 1943, he was
elected secretary of the Hano'ar Ha'oved youth.
In the War of Independence, Peres was responsible for arms
purchases and recruitment and, in 1948, appointed head of the naval
services. In 1949, he headed the Defense Ministry's procurement delegation
to the United States. In 1952, he was appointed Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Defense
and, from 1953 to 1959, served as its Director-General. Since 1959, Peres has been a
member of the Knesset. From 1959 to 1965, he served as Deputy
Minister of Defense. In 1965, he left the Mapai Labour
Party with Ben-Gurion and became Secretary-General of Rafi. In 1968, he
was a key figure in bringing Rafi back to Mapai to form the Israel Labour
Party. In 1969, Peres became Minister of Immigrant Absorption. From 1970
to 1974, he served as
Minister of Transport and Communications. In 1974, he was
appointed Minister of Information and later, Minister of Defense, an
office he held until 1977. On his tenure, the
Entebbe rescue operation took place.
In 1977, Peres was elected chairman of the Labour Alignment.
In 1978, Peres was elected Vice-President of the Socialist
International. From 1984 to 1986, he served as Prime Minister and, from
1986 to 1988, as Vice Premier and Minister of Foreign
Affairs in the National Unity Government. Israel withdrew
from Lebanon and an economic stabilization plan was implemented in his
tenure as Prime Minister.
In the National Unity government from 1988 to 1990, Peres served as Vice
Premier and Minister of Finance. From 1990 to 1992, he led the opposition in
the Knesset. In July 1992, Peres began his second tenure as Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs
as a member of the new government led by the Labour Party.
In October 1994, he received
the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in the Middle East peace process, together with
Arafat and Rabin. After the assassination of Rabin, he became Prime
Minister and was confirmed by the Knesset in November 1995. In May 1996,
Peres lost a close election to Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud block and,
in July 2000, surprisingly, the Presidential election to the Likud candidate