Shimon Peres: Time Line


2 August 1923: Szymon Perski is born in Vishneva, what is now Belarus.

1934: Following the move to Israel of his father two years before, Peres and the rest of his family migrate to Tel Aviv. Here Peres studies in an agriculture school, going on to live and work on kibbutzim; he becomes deeply involved in the Labour Zionist youth movement.

1945: He marries his childhood sweetheart Sonya Gelman. Though the couple become estranged late in life, they remain married for 67 years, until Sonya’s death in 2011, having three children.

1947: Peres joins the Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary organisation, the predecessor to the IDF, where he is made responsible for arms purchases and personnel by Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion. During and after the War of Independence (1948-49) he serves as the head of Israel’s navy.

1953: Peres is appointed as the Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Defence, aged 29. He is involved in arms purchases, creating a strong relationship with France, and helping Israel to establish the Dimona nuclear reactor.

July 1956: Peres is involved in the secret planning of the Sinai campaign with France, alongside then Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan.

1959: Peres is first elected to the Knesset, the beginning of a parliamentary career lasting 48 years.

1959-1977: Peres holds a variety of government roles, including: Deputy Defense Minister (1959-1965), Minister of Immigrant Absorption (1969-1970), Minister of Transport and Communications (1970-1974) and Minister of Defense (1974-1977).

1974: As Minister of Defense in the government of Yitzhak Rabin, Peres oversees the recovery of the IDF following the 1973 Yom Kippur War. He also supervises the disengagement of Israeli forces on the Egyptian front, laying groundwork for the eventual peace settlement between Israel and Egypt.

4 July 1976: Strong advocate and supporter for the military option which leads to the successful rescue of Israeli and Jewish passengers from Entebbe Airport, Uganda – passengers of an Air France plane hijacked by far-left Palestinian and German terrorists en route to Israel.

22 April 1977: Succeeds Yitzhak Rabin as leader of the Labour Party.

17 May 1977: Leads Labour as they suffer their first electoral defeat, going on to assume the role of opposition leader.

13 September 1984: In the election of 1984, Peres leads Labour to winning, by a small margin, the largest share of seats in the Knesset but lacking the majority needed to form their own government. Peres and Likud leader Yitzhak Shamir agree a national unity rotation government, Peres serves his first term as Prime Minister for the first two years.

20 October 1986: After completing his two years as Prime Minister in the first national unity government, Peres exchanges roles with Shamir and becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs.

11 April 1987: Peres and King Hussein of Jordan sign the ‘London Agreement’, outlining plans for Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian negotiations over the sovereignty of the West Bank. The agreement fails to be implemented after it is rejected by Yitzhak Shamir.

22 December 1988: After suffering a narrow defeat in the election, Peres returns to the national unity government, serving as Minister of Finance.

1990: Peres attempts to bring down the national unity government and install himself as Prime Minister but fails to secure the required numbers of MKs to form a government, leading to the collapse of the unity government.

23 June 1992: Loses the Labour Party leadership election to Yitzhak Rabin.

14 July 1992: Labour return to power in the 1992 elections, and Peres is appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

1993: Peres authorises and eventually takes personal responsibility for the secret negotiations which lead to the signing of the Oslo Accords with the PLO in September 1993, leading to the creation of a Palestinian self-governing authority in the West Bank led by the PLO and Yasser Arafat. He publishes ‘The New Middle East’, a utopian vision for Israel’s integration into a peaceful regional system.

10 December 1994: Peres, alongside Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in the Oslo Accords.

4 November 1995: Following the assassination of Rabin, Peres succeeds him as leader of the Labour Party, serving a second term as Prime Minister for seven months, and continuing with the implementation of the Oslo Accords.

29 May 1996: After a wave of Palestinian terrorism, Peres and the Labour Party suffer a narrow electoral defeat to the Likud, led by Benjamin Netanyahu.

1996: Founds the Peres Center for Peace, a non-partisan, non-governmental organisation dedicated to the promotion of peace in the Middle East.

4 June 1997: Peres is replaced by Ehud Barak as leader of the Labour Party.

31 July 2000: Peres is defeated in the Israeli Presidential election by Moshe Katzav.

March 2001: Following Ehud Barak’s defeat in the 2001 general election, in the midst of the Second Intifada, Peres yet again leads Labour, and takes the party into a national unity government with Ariel Sharon’s Likud. He goes on to secure the post of Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister.

30 November 2005: Having been replaced as the leader of the party by Amir Peretz, Peres leaves the Labour Party to help establish the centrist Kadima Party, alongside Ariel Sharon, his old adversary.

13 June 2007: Becomes Israel’s ninth President after securing a majority of votes in Israel’s Knesset.

2007-2014: As President, Peres distinguishes himself as a global ambassador for Israel, promoting in particular its contribution to global technological development, whilst actively promoting a negotiated two-state agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. He gains exceptionally high domestic approval rating across the political spectrum.

13 November 2007: Peres addresses the Turkish parliament, the first Israeli President to speak to the legislature of a Muslim country.

20 November 2008: Queen Elizabeth II awards Peres with an honorary knighthood.

29 May 2012: Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barak Obama during a ceremony at the White House.

26 June 2014: Peres is awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on his final official visit to the United States.

24 July 2014: Shimon Peres’s term as President of Israel comes to an end; he is succeeded by Reuven Rivlin.