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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 June 2007, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
Peres elected Israel's president
Veteran Israeli politician Shimon Peres
Mr Peres was an architect of peace accords with the Palestinians
Veteran Israeli politician Shimon Peres has been elected the country's next president, after his two rivals pulled out of the race.

Mr Peres, 83, won support from 86 of the parliament's 120 MPs after voting went to a second round.

Incumbent Moshe Katsav is on leave of absence since being accused of rape and other sexual offences, which he denies.

Mr Peres, of the ruling Kadima party, has served twice as prime minister and is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Earlier, Mr Peres won 58 ballots in the first round, short of the 61 needed to be elected to the post by the 120-member Knesset.

Reuven Rivlin of the opposition Likud received 37 votes and Labour's Colette Avital 21. They both declared their support for Mr Peres after the first-round results.

Mr Peres will be sworn into office on 15 July.

International renown

The BBC's Martin Patience in Jerusalem says many Israelis hope that Mr Peres will restore dignity to what they see as a tarnished office.

SHIMON PERES
Born 1923 in Poland
Emigrated to British-administered Palestine 1934
Member of parliament since 1959
Prime minister in 1984 and 1995-1996

In Israel, the position of the president is largely ceremonial but is seen by many Israelis as the nation's moral compass, our correspondent says.

Mr Peres represented Labour in the 2000 election for the post, but on that occasion lost to Mr Katsav.

Mr Peres, widely regarded as the architect of Israel's assumed nuclear weapons programme, is currently Israel's vice-premier and minister of development for the Negev and Galilee regions.

He has been Israeli prime minister and held numerous ministerial posts, but lost general elections in 1977, 1981, 1984, 1988, and 1996.

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

A high point of Mr Peres' long career came in 1994, when he shared the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his role.




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