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Shimon Peres

Peres pledges to carry on peace mission

November 5, 1995

TEL AVIV, Israel (CNN) -- As Israelis mourn the loss of Yitzhak Rabin, they look to his one-time rival, Shimon Peres, to carry forth his plans.


Longtime political foes, Peres and Rabin had managed to forge a friendship in recent years built on the shared hope for peace in the Middle East.

There was no clearer demonstration of how close the two had become than at the peace rally Saturday only moments before Rabin was slain.

Standing before a crowd, the two men embraced. "You see?" Rabin told reporters. "Things change not only in the world, but also in the Middle East -- also for us."

Indeed, hours later things had changed swiftly for the two men, in ways neither could have imagined when they embraced.

With Rabin's death, the Israeli Cabinet named Peres acting prime minister. After years of battling Rabin for leadership of Israel, Peres, 73, accepted the mantle of leadership somewhat reluctantly.


"This is very hard for me to talk (about) him as a deceased man," Peres said following the assassination. "We have stood together for so long. We had such a good friendship."

Still, it is a position for which Peres is well-prepared.

Born in Poland in 1923, Peres emigrated to Palestine with his parents at the age of 11. While in his 20s, Peres caught the attention of Israeli founding father David Ben-Gurion, who would groom him for leadership.

When Israel gained independence in 1948, Peres was appointed head of the naval department in the Ministry of Defense. He spent two years in the United States working for the Israeli government and attending Harvard University.

After his return to Israel in 1952, he held series of government posts, including Minister of Defense, Minister of Transportation and Communications and Minister of Finance.

Between 1984 and 1986 he served as Prime Minister in a coalition government with the right wing Likud Party. During this time, Israel pulled its troops back from Lebanon, normalized relations with Egypt and contained spiraling inflation.

For many years Peres and Rabin had battled for leadership of the Labor Party. Peres' political star has risen and fallen over the years. He has been defeated in numerous elections and mocked for his idealism, yet he was recently voted Israel's most popular politician.

Peres has served as foreign minister since 1992, when Rabin carried the Labor Party to victory.

In 1994, Peres and Rabin shared the Nobel Peace Prize with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.

Arafat and Peres

With the sudden change in leadership, Peres has vowed to carry out Rabin's mission of peace.

"I am sure that there is nothing else we can do as human beings, as comrades, as friends but to continue a great road paved by a great leader," Peres said.

As acting prime minister Peres may serve until scheduled elections in October 1996. Alternatively, he may call early elections or attempt to form a new government.

Peres remembers Rabin - part 1 - 688K AIFF or WAV sound

Peres remembers Rabin - part 2 - 696K AIFF or WAV sound

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