Shimon Peres was born Shimon Perski in Wiszniew, Poland (now Belarus) in August 1923. He moved with his immediate family to Palestine in 1934. He had a varied and highly prestigious political career in Israel, culminating in a term as President of Israel. He married Sonya Gelman in 1945, with whom he shared three children. He died on September 28, 2016 at the age of 93. His wife Sonya predeceased him in 2011.
Peres spent most of his adult life active in Israeli politics, serving as prime minister of Israel twice and also as President of Israel from 2007 to 2014. He also played a significant role in defining the Israeli political landscape early in the country’s history. His political career began in 1947 when he joined the Zionist military organization, Haganah. There, he met David Ben-Gurion. Ben-Gurion went on to become prime minister of Israel, and appointed Peres head of Israel’s navy in 1948. Peres rose through the ranks of Israel’s government, going on to service as deputy director general of the Ministry of Defense, director general of the Ministry of Defense, and deputy defense minister. He contributed to the establishment of Israel’s Labor Party, and became defense minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin in 1974.
Notably, Peres played a major role in the Oslo Accords in 1993, and went on to negotiate, as Israel’s foreign minister, the details of the pact’s implementation with the PLO. For this work, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 as Israel’s foreign minister, with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat following their work on the Oslo Accords.
Through years of political work, Peres served as prime minister twice, and intermittently served in different cabinet positions in the intervening years, culminating in his time as president from 2007 to 2014.
He was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 by President Barack Obama.