(Israel Twitter)Shimon Peres שמעון פרס, born Szymon Perski; 2 August 1923) is the ninth President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as the eighth Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years. Peres was elected to the Knesset in November 1959 and, except for a three-month-long hiatus in early 2006, served continuously until 2007, when he became President.
He held several diplomatic and military positions during and directly after Israel's War of Independence. His first high-level government position was as Deputy Director-General of Defense in 1952, and Director-General in 1953 through 1959. During his career, he has represented five political parties in the Knesset: Mapai, Rafi, the Alignment, Labor and Kadima, and has led Alignment and Labour. Peres won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize together with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat for the peace talks that he participated in as Israeli Foreign Minister, producing the Oslo Accords. Peres was nominated in early 2007 by Kadima to run in that year's presidential election, and was elected by the Knesset for the presidency on 13 June 2007 and sworn into office on 15 July 2007 for a seven-year term. He is the first former Prime Minister to be elected President of Israel.
Shimon Peres was born Szymon Perski on 2 August 1923 in Wiszniewo, Poland (now Višnieva, Belarus), to Yitzhak (1896–1962) and Sara (b. 1905 née Meltzer) Perski. The family spoke Hebrew, Yiddish and Russian at home, and Peres learned Polish at school. He now speaks English and French in addition to Hebrew.
Peres was first elected to the Knesset in the 1959 elections, as a member of the Mapai party. He was given the role of Deputy Defense Minister, which he fulfilled until 1965. Peres and Moshe Dayan left Mapai with David Ben-Gurion to form a new party, Rafi, which reconciled with Mapai and joined the Alignment (a left-wing alliance) in 1968.
In 1969, Peres was appointed Minister of Immigrant Absorption and in 1970 became Minister of Transportation and Communications. In 1974, after a period as Information Minister, he was appointed Minister of Defense in the Yitzhak Rabin government, having been Rabin's chief rival for the post of Prime Minister after Golda Meir resigned in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War. During this time, Peres continued to challenge Rabin for the chairmanship of the party, but in 1977, he again lost to Rabin in the party elections.
On 13 June 2007, Peres was elected President of the State of Israel by the Knesset. 58 of 120 members of the Knesset voted for him in the first round (whereas 38 voted for Reuven Rivlin, and 21 for Colette Avital). His opponents then backed Peres in the second round and 86 members of the Knesset voted in his favor, while 23 objected. He resigned from his role as a Member of the Knesset the same day, having been a member since November 1959 (except for a three month period in early 2006), the longest serving in Israeli political history. Peres was sworn in as President on 15 July 2007.