It isnrsquo;t merely Israel that has lost a defining political figure; the Middle East is the poorer with the passing in Tel-Aviv on Wednesday of Shimon Peres at the ripe age of 93. To few leaders is it given to serve twice as Prime Minister once as President and then to be awarded the Nobel Peace prize. The record was famously exceptional. The award itself was testament to the entente cordiale with the Palestine Liberation Organisation a seminal achievement that alas has been frittered away over time. He was one of the key architects of the Oslo peace accords July 1994 for which he was jointly awarded the Nobel with the then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the chairman of the PLO Yasser Arafat.
It was recognition for his efforts to bring about peace in West Asia and the value of the visual of the three leaders will be of abiding importance as a point of reference. Perceptions might differ as geopolitics in almost permanently volatile West Asia is open to subjective reflection; it is the empirical evidence that shall determine any assessment. By that token there is little doubt that it was Mr Peres who had laid the foundation of what Barack Obama has called the ever so strong and ldquo;unbreakable alliancerdquo; between the US and Israel. Rightly has Mr Peres been called ldquo;a genius with a big heart who used his gifts to imagine a future of reconciliation not conflictrdquo;. It is quite another story that the consummation devoutly wished is yet to attain fruition. Mr Peres will be judged by the yardstick of what he had achieved and not in context of the failures and belligerence of his successors though not wholly unrelated. Even as recently as last year he had strongly criticised the direction of the government of Israel’s rightwing prime minister although he did not name Benjamin Netanyahu directly.
The signal achievement of his career was the ceasefire of 2001 that ended seven months of Israeli-Palestinian bloodshed. From a hawk in the initial phase of his career in the 1970s to a peacemaker in the fullness of time Mr Peres was famously able to trim his sails to the winds of change. Not so his successors however. Which explains his blistering candour while buttressing the imperative of a two-state solution — ldquo;Israel should implement the two-state solution for her own sake because if we should lose our majority and today we are almost equal we cannot remain a Jewish state or a democratic state. That’s the main issue and to my regret they the government do the opposite.rdquo; nbsp;Was he disullusioned with the present set of leaders? nbsp;As a steadfast friend of India he has bequeathed a legacy that deserves richly to be pursued.