This latest defeat for Israel's prophet is a setback for peace

Share

A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country and his own house. One day, perhaps, Israel will make the concessions that Shimon Peres has tirelessly advocated to secure a lasting settlement with the Palestinians. But yesterday, after his unexpected, humiliating rejection by the Knesset as his country's new president, those words from St Matthew's Gospel sounded like history's judgement on the Israeli politician who was prepared to go further than any other for peace with the Arab world.

A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country and his own house. One day, perhaps, Israel will make the concessions that Shimon Peres has tirelessly advocated to secure a lasting settlement with the Palestinians. But yesterday, after his unexpected, humiliating rejection by the Knesset as his country's new president, those words from St Matthew's Gospel sounded like history's judgement on the Israeli politician who was prepared to go further than any other for peace with the Arab world.

Shimon Peres, it has been said, was born to suffer. He was the Labour party prime minister of Israel three times, but never following victory in his own right. Five times he failed to win an election, most recently in 1996 when he was narrowly defeated by the unlamented Benjamin Netanyahu. Many a time he has made a comeback, but this setback will surely prove terminal to a political career that predates the very existence of the state of Israel. Mr Peres is now 76. His conqueror was not a political lion like himself, but Moshe Katsav, a notably uncharismatic member of the opposition Likud party, and certainly no Chaim Herzog or Ezer Weizman.

The reasons for this personal disaster are complex. To a degree, undoubtedly, they lie in the treacherous eddies of Israeli politics, and the perceived shortcomings of a man who was never quite trusted by his countrymen, and who lacked the military credentials of the former and present Labour prime ministers, Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak. Many ordinary Israelis shared Mr Rabin's early judgement that he was an "indefatigable schemer". Mr Barak, too, was not much enamoured of him - making slightly less than convincing his own denial of charges that he did not privately urge his own supporters to use the secrecy of the ballot box to vote against Mr Peres.

If that were all, the downfall of Mr Peres would be merely another cautionary tale for ambitious politicians anywhere. But it is more; it is a depressing commentary on the prospects for peace after the collapse of the Camp David summit last week.

If elected president, Mr Peres would surely have used that largely ceremonial office to keep up the pressure for a settlement. His defeat, taken together with Mr Barak's narrow survival of a no-confidence motion yesterday, is a further sign of a hardening political consensus that the prime minister has been too generous with the Palestinians. Yesterday could prove a repudiation not just of Shimon Peres the man but of an unheeded prophet's entire vision of a "New Middle East".

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron (pictured) can't steal back my party's vote that easily, says Nigel Farage  

Cameron’s benefits pledge is designed to lure back Ukip voters. He’ll have to try harder

Nigel Farage
Turkish women have been posting defiant selfies of themselves laughing at their deputy PM's remarks.  

Women now have two more reasons to laugh in the face of sexism

Louise Scodie
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star