One of Israel’s defining political figures and a Nobel peace prize laureate died at the age of 93, two weeks after having a stroke. Shimon Peres had twice served as prime minister of Israel and later as the country’s ninth president. He had been seriously ill on a respirator in an Israeli hospital near Tel Aviv and died after his condition deteriorated sharply.
He was one of the last of a generation of Israeli politicians who were present at the new nation’s birth in 1948. He served twice as the country’s prime minister and once as president, winning the Nobel Peace prize in 1994 for his role negotiating peace accords with the Palestinians a year earlier.
He once said the Palestinians were Israel’s “closest neighbours” and might become its “closest friends”.
“He worked tirelessly for Israel from the very first day of the state to the last day of his life.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his “deep personal grief on the passing of the beloved of the nation”.
Meanwhile US President Barack Obama called Mr Peres his “dear friend” in a statement, and said: “He was guided by a vision of the human dignity and progress that he knew people of goodwill could advance together.”
His defining achievement was as one of the key architects of the Oslo peace accords for which he was jointly awarded the Nobel peace prize with the then Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
Peres’s death was formally confirmed on Wednesday morning by his son Chemi in a news conference at the hospital where his father had been treated.