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profiles Tuesday, 4 December, 2001, 11:57 GMT
Peres: Peace architect, election loser
Receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994
Fellow Nobel Laureates: Rabin, Arafat and Peres
By BBC News Online's Tarik Kafala

Shimon Peres has had better luck in making peace with the Arabs than he has at winning elections.

Shimon Peres
Born 1923 in Poland
Emigrated to Israel in 1934
Married, three children
Member of parliament since 1959
Twice prime minister, Labour party
Nobel peace prize 1994
Lost bid for president, July 2000
Now foreign minister

As foreign minister again, this time under the hard line right-wing Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, Mr Peres had been trying to bring peace to Israel.

But an upsurge in violence has left the peace process in ruins and Mr Peres leading a minority view within the cabinet.

The 77-year-old elder statesman is the architect of Israel's nuclear programme and has twice been prime minister, but he has never won his own mandate.

His greatest successes have come on the international stage, and he was the guiding light behind Israel's first interim peace accord with the PLO in 1993 in Oslo.

The high point of Mr Peres's long career as a pillar of Israel's political establishment was the Nobel Peace Prize, in recognition of his role in bringing about the Oslo peace process.

Trouble with elections

Mr Peres has never won a general, or prime ministerial election.

He was first prime minister in a national unity government in 1984, and he took over the job of prime minister after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

He lost elections in 1977, 1981, 1984, 1988, and 1996.

Peres and Arafat
Peres and Arafat share a bond of trust
It seems that he has always failed to convince a majority of voters that he can deliver security along with peace with Israel's neighbours.

Unlike Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak, Mr Peres had no illustrious military record to show that he could be tough as well as a peacemaker.

Mr Peres also suffered from being perceived as an archetypal representative of the Israeli elite of European origins that has dominated Israeli politics since the creation of the state.

In July last year, Mr Peres also failed to win the presidency, losing out in a secret ballot in parliament to a little known right-winger, Moshe Katsav.

Nuclear programme

For a man widely viewed as a dove in the context of Israeli politics, Mr Peres was hawkish on Israel's nuclear programme.

Although he has gone on record as admitting that Israel's nuclear facility at Dimona was built as a deterrent, Israel maintains an official policy of what is known as "ambiguity".

It says only that it will not be the first to "introduce" nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Back in the limelight

Shimon Peres stepped back onto the centre stage in efforts to calm the continuing Palestinian-Israeli confrontation last November.

Mr Peres, who shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Yasser Arafat and former Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin in 1994, was an ideal man for the job because he was one of the few Israelis who could still talk to the Palestinian leader.

It appeared that Mr Arafat and Mr Peres may share a bond of trust that could prove invaluable to Mr Sharon.

But the task of persuading the Palestinians to do any deal with a government led by Mr Sharon was always going to be a tough task.


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