Shimon Peres, who twice served as Israel’s prime minister and once as president, has died in Tel Aviv at the age of 93, following a stroke he suffered two weeks ago.
World figures have led tributes to the Nobel prize winning statesman, one of the last of the generation of politicians who founded Israel in 1948, and many are expected to attend his funeral in Jerusalem on Friday, including US President Barack Obama, Britain’s Prince Charles and Pope Francis.
President Obama issued a statement on the loss of his “dear friend”, saying “He was guided by a vision of the human dignity and progress that he knew people of goodwill could advance together.”
His son Chemi called his father “one of the founding fathers of the state of Israel”, a man who “worked tirelessly” for his country.
In the early years of his long political career Mr Peres was known for his aggressive expansion of Israel’s Defense Forces and nuclear facilities, but later became a major advocate for peace.
He won the Nobel Peace prize in 1994 for his role in negotiating the Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians a year earlier, although the accords signed never led to long term peace between the two nations, robbing Peres and his government of what he called ” the greatest victory that we aspired to”; in his own words, “release from the need to win victories.”
He will be remembered as a figurehead of Israel in its formative years and beyond, a driving force behind the nation’s defence and security, and in later life, as being fundamental to implementing the peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine, which continue to this day.
His son quoted him as having once said: “You are only as great as the cause you serve.”