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PERES, SHIMON (1923- ).

Israel political leader and cabinet member. Brought to Palestine from his native Poland in 1934, he was a founder of Kibbutz Alumot, and from 1941 to 1945 was general secretary of the Labor Zionist Youth organization. During the War of Independence, he headed Israel’s fledgling navy. In 1950, he joined the staff of the Ministry of Defense and in 1956 helped plan the Sinai Campaign. Eventually, he rose to the rank of Deputy Minister of Defense, a post he held from 1959 to 1965. During those years the Defense Ministry took over Israel’s armaments industry, expanded the aircraft industry, and made headway in nuclear development and research. From 1974 to 1977, he was Minister of Defense and briefly served as acting Prime Minister between the resignation of Premier Yitzhak Rabin and the election which brought Menachem Begin to the premiership. In 1979 and 1984, Peres was elected as head of the Labor Alignment in the Knesset, and headed the opposition. From 1984 to 1986 he served as Prime Minister in the Labor-Likud government. Until 1990, he was Finance Minister under Yitzhak Shamir. In 1992 Labor returned to power with Rabin as Prime Minister and Peres as Foreign Minister. He was instrumental in bringing about the Oslo Agreement in 1993, which resulted in a peace process with the Palestinian Arabs, and for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1995 Rabin was assassinated, and Peres became Prime Minister. He was, however, defeated in the early elections which he called for in 1996. He resigned as leader of the Labor Alignment and was replaced by Ehud Barak. In 2006 he was appointed Vice Prime Minister in Ehud Olmert‘s government.

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