Shimon Peres (help·info) (Hebrew: שמעון פרס, born Szymon Perski; 2 August 1923) is the ninth President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as the eighth Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years. Peres was elected to the Knesset in November 1959 and, except for a three-month-long hiatus in early 2006, served continuously until 2007, when he became President.
He held several diplomatic and military positions during and directly after Israel's War of Independence. His first high-level government position was as Deputy Director-General of Defense in 1952, and Director-General in 1953 through 1959. During his career, he has represented five political parties in the Knesset: Mapai, Rafi, the Alignment, Labor and Kadima, and has led Alignment and Labour. Peres won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize together with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat for the peace talks that he participated in as Israeli Foreign Minister, producing the Oslo Accords. Peres was nominated in early 2007 by Kadima to run in that year's presidential election, and was elected by the Knesset for the presidency on 13 June 2007 and sworn into office on 15 July 2007 for a seven-year term. He is the first former Prime Minister to be elected President of Israel.
Shimon Peres was born Szymon Perski on 2 August 1923 in Wiszniewo, Poland (now Višnieva, Belarus), to Yitzhak (1896–1962) and Sara (b. 1905 née Meltzer) Perski. The family spoke Hebrew, Yiddish and Russian at home, and Peres learned Polish at school. He now speaks English and French in addition to Hebrew. His father was a lumber merchant, later branching out into other commodities while his mother was a librarian. Peres has a younger brother, Gershon, and is a first cousin of American actress Lauren Bacall (born Betty Joan Persky).