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Peres leaves hospital after fainting

TEL AVIV, Sep 13 – Israeli President Shimon Peres on Sunday left a hospital where the 86-year-old Nobel laureate had spent the night under observation after fainting at a Tel Aviv conference.

Peres’s convoy left the Tel Hashomer hospital for Jerusalem, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.

Tests performed on Israel’s elder statesman showed no cause for alarm and the president was expected to meet US Middle East envoy George Mitchell as planned at the start of the latter’s latest tour of the region, officials said.

"The president is in very good health for an individual of his age. The clinical tests showed no heart attack or stroke," hospital director Zeev Rotshein said.

But Rotshein said doctors were recommending that the veteran octogenarian political cut down on his busy work schedule over the next few days.

Peres fainted as he was giving a speech late on Saturday in Tel Aviv.

"He fainted for at most a dozen seconds before regaining consciousness and at first had refused to go to the hospital," his spokeswoman Ayelet Frisch told reporters.

Peres’s personal physician, Rafi Valdan, told the Ynet news website that the octogenarian was feeling fine after the incident.

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"It was simply very hot and he stood up for a long time and felt dizzy. He fainted for a few seconds," his personal physician, Rafi Valdan was quoted as telling the Ynet news website.

Peres, who keeps to a busy public schedule despite his advanced age, is Israel’s veteran statesman who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, alongside then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, for his role in negotiating the 1993 Oslo accords.

He was elected by parliament to the largely ceremonial post of Israeli president in 2007, crowning a career spanning five decades during which he has held just about every major national office, twice serving as prime minister.

Born in Poland in 1923, he emigrated to Palestine when he was 11. He joined the Zionist struggle in the 1940s and met Israel’s founding father, David Ben Gurion, while hitchhiking.

At 29, he became director general of the nascent defence ministry and is considered the founding father of Israel’s undeclared nuclear programme.

Peres, who once hawkishly rejected any compromise with hostile Arab states, says he was converted after 1977, when Egyptian president Anwar Sadat made a historic visit to Jerusalem, leading to the first Arab-Israeli peace treaty.

In 2005 he left the Labour party to join the new centrist Kadima headed by Ariel Sharon, an alliance that ensured Israel withdrew troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip after 38 years of occupation.

Although widely admired abroad, Peres is known for being an electoral liability as much as an asset and has never been such a hit at home.

The one-time foreign, defence and finance minister was defeated in Israeli general elections in 1977, 1981, 1984, 1988 and 1996. He never led Labour to victory.

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He was prime minister between 1984 and 1986 and again from 1995-1996.

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