Peres to restore dignity to his new office

Shimon Peres has been sworn in as Israel's President at a special ceremony. He replaces Moshe Katsav, who resigned last month after pleading guilty to several sexual offences.

Shimon Peres has been at the forefront of Israeli politics for well over half-a-century.

He was sworn in at a special ceremony of the Israeli Knesset, the Israeli Parliament.

This caps a 65-year political career, one in which Peres has served twice as the Israeli Prime Minister, as well as holding other high-ranking ministerial positions – he has served as the country's Finance, Foreign and Defence Minister.

Peres was born 84 years ago in Eastern Poland, in what is today Belarus. He speaks English, Russian, Hebrew and Yiddish. His mother was a teacher of Russian literature and Russian language.

In 1994, Shimon Peres was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with the-then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Yasser Arafat. The prize was given for the peace talks that led to the Oslo Accords.

Pope Benedict XVI has welcomed the appointment of Shimon Peres. He has urged the President to do whatever he can to jump-start peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

The majority of Israelis have also welcomed their new President. What they are hoping more than anything now is that he will restore dignity to this office that was all but destroyed by the disgraced outgoing President Moishe Katsav, who has been charged with sexual misconduct.