Shimon Peres, former Israeli President who died today, was an ardent admirer of India and its leaders and always supported the country for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. The 93-year-old statesman, who enjoyed worldwide acceptance but was seen as a polarising figure at home during a major part of his political career, was inspired by Indian greats – Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. He often described Gandhi as a “prophet” and Nehru a “king” and said that “India was fortunate to be blessed with two great and unforgettable leaders”.
Peres often mentioned how fascinating it was to read Gandhi’s autobiography and Nehru’s Discovery of India which were also translated to Hebrew in the 40s. “For us India is first of all a culture. Then it is for us the greatest democracy on earth and then the unbelievable achievement of overcoming poverty without becoming poor in freedom,” the Nobel laureate had told the then Foreign Minister S M Krishna in 2012.
“I wish that India would become a permanent member of the Security Council,” Peres had emphasised while serving as the President of Israel. He reiterated the same belief several times on different occasions, but it is not necessarily a position that the Israeli political establishment backs given India’s traditional voting pattern at the UN which favours resolutions in favour of the Palestinians.