The Shimon Peres I Knew Was Unparalleled in His Quest for Peace

By: Gilead Sher
September 27, 2016

Rarely in history has a man been so identified with the life of his nation for so many decades and at so many critical junctures as Shimon Peres was. Peres’s legacy encompasses vision and practice, policy and authorship, statesmanship and politics.

I remember how, in 1993, once the Oslo Declaration of Principles was signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the parties needed to get their act together and establish a realistic relationship. There would be no more glowing ceremonies, but rather a challenging, wearying, detailed, edgy negotiation process that started in late 1994 and continued throughout the end of September 1995, with the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim agreement (“Oslo B”).

Prime Minister Rabin assigned Peres for the job. The two overcame bitter past animosities and worked hand in hand to resolve the intractable conflict with the Palestinians. Peres led the talks, reporting personally to Rabin on a regular basis several times a day, getting his approval for precedential decisions, discussing the issues at hand and then getting back to the negotiations.

I remember Peres sitting in front of Yasser Arafat in Taba in August 1995, long past midnight, after an exceptionally (though typically) heated exchange between the two on a loaded topic. “Mr. Chairman,” he told the PLO leader, “as much as I am convinced you are totally wrong, I would still rather sit here negotiating with you for five more days and nights than have Israelis and Palestinians shoot bullets for five minutes.”

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