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ISRAEL: Shimon Peres’ Legacy

Shimon Peres (in photo with the Pope) twice prime minister and once president of Israel, died at the age of 93. In a telegram of condolences, Pope Francis expressed his deep sadness upon learning of the death of former the President. “I fondly recall my time with Mr. Peres at the Vatican and renew my great appreciation for the late president’s tireless efforts in favor of peace.”

Despite a series of electoral defeats (in Israel, he was known as the “eternal loser”), he managed to be elected prime minister twice (1984-86; 1995-96) and, over 50 years in public life, had held roles in charge of defense, foreign affairs and finance. The brightest moment of his career was when he and Rabin launched the dialogue with the Palestinians until the Oslo Accords (1993), which provided for the progressive autonomy for Palestinians until the proclamation of a state. Thanks to this commitment, in 1994 along with Yasser Arafat and Rabin, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But in 1995, Rabin was killed by a fundamentalist Jew, while Israeli society began to slide toward more aggressive positions and further away from the Labor Party.

Amid these ups and downs, Peres changed parties to form an alliance with Ariel Sharon (leader of the Lebanon invasion in 1982), approving the withdrawal from Gaza and achieving election to the presidency in 2007. At 84 years of age, he was a respected figure, a “ dove” with pragmatic aspects, however unable to stop the drift of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

He left the presidency in 2014 and, in the same year, attended the ceremony of peace in the Vatican with Pope Francis, Mahmoud Abbas and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. And this, while dialogue and peace with the Palestinians – which he supported until his dying breath – remain a distant dream.

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