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Shimon Peres was elected president of Israel Wednesday
Shimon Peres, a former prime minister and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was elected president of Israel Wednesday. The 83-year-old politician representing the ruling Kadima party won the second round in parliament after two other candidates, Reuven Rivlin of the right-wing Likud and Colette Avital of the centrist Labor party, withdrew from the race after losing the first round earlier Wednesday. Peres won the first round with 58 ballots, short of the 61 needed for victory, and secured 86 votes from the 120-member Knesset, the parliament which selects presidents, in the second round, Speaker Dalia Itzik said. After the swearing-in ceremony for a seven-year term in July, Peres will be the ninth president of Israel in its 60 years of statehood. Born in what is now the territory of Belarus, Peres emigrated to Israel with his family when he was a boy. He held all of Israel's top positions, including that of prime minister in 1984-86 and 1995-96, but this is his first time as president. Peres, now deputy prime minister, lost his presidential bid as a Labor leader to Likud's Moshe Katsav in 2000. He won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his role in forging interim peace deals with the Palestinians and is expected to restore the prestige of the largely ceremonial post, undermined by recent charges of rape and abuse of office against incumbent Katsav.
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