Pope Francis meets with Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas at the Vatican, to pray for and discuss the possibility of establishing peace between the two regions. This is the first gathering of representatives from two countries in conflict that has ever taken place at the Vatican. The gathering is a result of an invitation Francis extended to the two leaders during his recent trip to the Middle East. Francis:
To have peace, one needs courage, far more than you need for a war.
A bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to Shimon Peres passes in a voice vote in the House of Representatives. Lobbyist Ezra Freidlander, CEO of the Freidlander Group, which which was instrumental in creating the Shimon Peres Congressional Gold Medal Commemoration Committee, says:
Shimon Peres is a symbol of the bridge that defines the US Israel relationship.
In an exclusive interview with Israel Channel 2 Television, Peres claims that three years ago he was on the verge of reaching a peace agreement with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. According to Peres, Abbas was committed to recognizing the right of Israel to exist, and to accepting the Arab League plan for dealing with Palestinian refugees. The deal was never culminated, however, due to what Peres describes as Prime Minister Netanyahu’s belief that “former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was about to present a better deal.” Prime Minister Netanyahu has not confirmed Peres’ account of the events, and neither has President Abbas.
Senators Kelly Ayotte and Michael Bennet, and Congressmen Joe Kennedy and Trent Franks introduce legislation to honor Peres with a Congressional Gold Medal. Senator Ayotte says in her statement before the Senate:
President Peres’ extraordinary record of service has helped strengthen the unbreakable bond between the U.S. and Israel, our closest and most stalwart ally in the Middle East. As we mark the 65th anniversary of Israel’s founding and the 90th birthday of one of Israel’s great leaders, this legislation demonstrates that the people of Israel and the United States stand shoulder to shoulder in the face of extraordinarily uncertain times.
Members of the US Senate vote unanimously in favor of passing bipartisan legislation to award a Congressional Gold Medal to Peres. The bill must also be passed in the House of Representatives for it to be enacted. One of four who introduced the bill, Democratic Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, says about Peres:
His career will serve as a beacon for the next generation of leaders.
Over 3000 guests attend the party, including Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Mikhail Gorbachev, Paul Kagame, Sharon Stone and Robert De Niro. The total cost of the party is approximately $3 million dollars, with Jewish organization and private donors footing the bill. The party is held at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, with entertainment provided by Barbra Streisand, who performs one English and one Hebrew song.
Yassar Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin are awarded the Peace Prize for promoting peaceful relations in the Middle East.
for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East.
Shimon Peres, originally named Szymon Perski, is born to Yitzhak and Sarah (nee Melzer) Peres, in Poland (now Visnieva, Belarus). His father is a wealthy timber merchant and his mother is a volunteer librarian. When he is 11 years old the family immigrates to Israel (then Mandatory Palestine) and settles in Tel Aviv. He is educated at the Balfour and Geulah schools. He has one younger brother.
As a child, I grew up in my grandfather’s home. … I was educated by him. … My grandfather taught me Talmud. It was not as easy as it sounds. My home was not an observant one. My parents were not Orthodox but I was Haredi [observant]. At one point, I heard my parents listening to the radio on the Sabbath and I smashed it.