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Shimon Peres

June 11, 1996

Israel's outgoing prime minister, Shimon Peres, has lost his fifth attempt to win a national election. History, however, will remember Peres as the man who, along with Yitzhak Rabin, helped lay the foundation for comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

In the 1950s, Peres came to realize that Israel, facing unmitigated Arab hostility, could not forever rely on its conventional arsenal. He, therefore, promoted the nuclear option--an idea which, at the time, was unpopular in his country, but is recognized today as vital to Israel's security.

After becoming foreign minister in Rabin's government in 1992, Peres quickly understood that the Arab-Israeli peace talks, whose progress had always been contingent upon the successful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian problem, were going nowhere. He conducted secret negotiations with the PLO, becoming the architect of the groundbreaking Oslo accords. But, as is apparent from the results of the Israeli elections, a majority of Israelis have yet to be convinced of the efficacy of these accords.

History will surely prove Peres right again. Just as the nuclear deterrent that Peres envisioned four decades ago has proven to be an indispensable part of Israel's national security policy, so are the historic agreements that he has negotiated with the Palestinian leadership vital to the nation's long-term security interests and to overall stability in the region.

Peres' debacle at the polls must not translate into a defeat for the peace he has championed for so long. The forces of fear and despair in the Middle East must not be allowed to prevail over the hope for a better future that Peres has bestowed on millions of young Israelis and Arabs.

GUY ZIV, President

Friends of Shimon Peres

Newport Beach

* Conrad's June 3 astute, deadly cartoon as to Israel's elections fails to recognize that Benjamin Netanyahu's margin of victory over Peres was "razor thin." The need for unity makes it imperative Netanyahu not allow peace to bleed to death.

No assassin's bullet, nor vote of the electorate, can change a legacy into a myth. The future for humanity rests in peace.


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