News / Middle East

Shimon Peres Steps Down as Israel's President, Predicts Peace

From left: Newly sworn-in Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Parliament Speaker Yuli Edelstein applaud outgoing President Shimon Peres during a ceremony at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, July 24, 2014.
From left: Newly sworn-in Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Parliament Speaker Yuli Edelstein applaud outgoing President Shimon Peres during a ceremony at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, July 24, 2014.
VOA News

Shimon Peres stepped down Thursday as Israel's president, predicting peace and a great future for Israel.

The 90-year-old Peres, who has been a voice for peace and cooperation with Israel's neighbors, said Arabs and the people of Gaza are not Israel's enemies.

He condemned Hamas for putting hundreds of thousands of Gazans on the front lines of war and forcing children to serve as shields.

He said Israel's future as a democratic Jewish state depends on a peace-based two-state solution.

Peres is a Nobel Peace Prize winner who came to the presidency in 2007 after serving Israel for 60 years in various high-level jobs including prime minister.

His replacement is right-wing parliamentarian Reuven Rivlin - an opponent of a two-state solution. But Rivlin does agree with Peres that terrorism, and not the Palestinian people, is Israel's enemy.

The Israeli presidency is largely a ceremonial position.

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