Shimon Peres was sworn in as Israel’s ninth president.
In his inauguration speech, Peres, a one-time Nobel Peace Prize-winner, said Israel must not forego any opportunity to make peace with its neighbors. “When opportunity for peace emerges, it must not be missed,” he said.
Before Sunday evening’s inauguration, held at the Knesset, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Peres would bring “much honor to politics in Israel.”
The office of the presidency has been under a dark cloud for the past year, since President Moshe Katsav was accused of sexual impropriety, including rape. Last month Katsav agreed to a plea bargain in which he pleaded guilty of sexual misconduct while the rape charges were dropped. Katzav then resigned from the presidency.
Peres, who will turn 84 next month, has been front and center in Israeli politics since before the state’s founding. He twice served as prime minister–though he never won the popular election to the post–and has served as Israel’s defense minister, finance minister and foreign minister. Peres lost the 2000 election for the presidency to Katsav.
World leaders from the pope to the U.S. president sent Peres warm wishes.