Shimon Peres: Israel's Past and Mideast's Future

By Cyr, Arthur I | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), October 8, 2016 | Go to article overview

Shimon Peres: Israel's Past and Mideast's Future


Cyr, Arthur I, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


The passing of Shimon Peres of Israel provides an opportunity to evaluate his leadership, and also the evolving political and strategic situation of his country and the wider region.

Undeniably, he is a remarkable figure, influential in death as he was during his long life. At Peres' funeral, two leaders of hostile groups shook hands - President Mahmoud Abbas of the State of Palestine and the Palestinian National Authority, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

Shimon Peres was present at the creation of modern Israel, and participated almost continuously in government leadership. He was president of Israel from 2007 to 2014. During the 1970s and 1980s, he served twice as prime minister, proving effective despite the shifting factions of Israel's party politics.

Generally he is regarded as a moderate who disagreed with hardline nationalist policies of recent governments.

However, for many critics of Israel he is regarded as a hardliner who supported Israeli settlements in land claimed by Palestinians. He was directly involved in the 1956 Suez military campaign. This in turn led to a major international crisis and serious direct confrontation between the U.S. and three of our closest allies. Peres also personified the priority of defense for his nation.

Since shortly after World War II, the security of Israel along with stability of the wider region have been sustained priorities of the foreign policy of the United States. However, the interests of our two nations have not always coincided.

In 1973, military and diplomatic efforts of the Nixon administration were crucial to Israel's successful defense against a combined attack by Arab states. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger led efforts to ease tensions in the region.

This was followed by major peace agreements. President Jimmy Carter's determination and discipline achieved the historic 1978 Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel. …

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