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The Peres Center for Peace, located in Jaffa, Israel, is an independent non-profit, non-governmental, and non-political organization founded in 1996 by Nobel Peace Laureate and former President of Israel Shimon Peres. Its aim is to further Peres' vision of people in the Middle East working together to build peace through socio-economic cooperation and development and people-to-people interaction.
The Peres Center for Peace describes its mission as "promot[ing] lasting peace and advancement in the Middle East by fostering tolerance, economic and technological development, innovation, cooperation and well-being – all in the spirit of President Peres’ vision."
The peacebuilding activities of the Peres Center fall into the following fields: Agriculture and Water; Business and Economics; Civil Leadership; Community Programs in Jaffa; Culture, Media and Arts, Medicine and Healthcare; Social Media and Information Technology (IT) ; Sport.
The Peres Peace House also contains the Shimon Peres Archives, an auditorium and conference rooms, and a conflict resolution library. Many of the Peres Center's activities, including public lectures and coexistence activities, take place within the Peres Peace House, as well as activities for the empowerment and development of the local Jaffa communities. These include legal aid services, community empowerment programs and a mentoring program for underprivileged children.
The cost of the center was estimated at $6 million and timeline of three years. According to Haaretz, as of August 2009, the cost and building time of the Peace House have been highly underestimated. The center was opened in December 2009. The building (2,500 sq m), a distinctive architectural landmark on the Jaffa coast next to the poor Arab neighborhood of Ajami, was designed by renowned Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas.
Through the years the building was open to the use of the local Arab community and the Center promoted projects to empower local groups and individuals. The first event held at the building was a graduation ceremony of 21 women, mostly Arab who graduated from a Women's Economic Empowerment Program and received their computer technician certificates.
Over the years the center has won both negative and positive critiques. Author Witt Raczka questioned the efficacy of the organization.
The Director General of the center is Efrat Duvdevani, formerly Director General of the President's House during Peres' Presidency. Her predecessor was Ido Sharir, formerly Chief of Staff to President Peres. Before Mr. Sharir, Ron Pundak served as Director General for over 10 years. The men and women who comprise the executive board are CEOs, Directors, and Presidents of various organizations, as well as scholars, academics, and journalists. The first Director General of the Peres Center was Ambassador Uri Savir, who, together with Shimon Peres, established the organization and currently serves as Honorary President.
The Israel Tax Authority denied the Peres Center's request for tax-exempt status in Israel. According to Haaretz, after the Center applied for the tax-exempt status the Tax Authority demanded that the organization stop funding the training of the physicians from the Gaza Strip in Israeli hospitals. The demand led the organization to suspend its application rather than stop the project.
In 2016 the Peres Center received tax-exempt status in Israel.