Former Israeli President Shimon Peres, known as one of the “founding fathers” of the state of Israel, has died. His death has been confirmed by his family. Peres, whose health had been deteriorating since suffering a massive stroke two weeks ago, passed away at the age of 93.
The one time President and two time Prime Minister is being remembered as one of the greatest peacekeepers in the country’s history. Present since the nation’s birth in 1948, Peres had been involved in politics for over 50 years and held almost every position in Israel’s cabinet. As foreign minister, Peres was awarded the nobel peace prize for his involvement in the Oslo Peace Accords which set up the framework for a resolution in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. Until the very end he was a dedicated advocate for peace.
Peres’s son, Chimi Peres, said his late father “served our people before we even had a country of our own. He worked tirelessly for Israel from the very first day of the state to the last day of his life.”
Current Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, held a special cabinet meeting to mourn the death of Peres and released a video statement to the public.
“Shimon devoted his life to our nation and to the pursuit of peace,” said Netanyahu. “As Israeli’s President, Shimon did so much to unite the nation and the nation loved him for it. Few people contributed as much to our people and to our state.”
President Obama, who called Peres a friend, released a statement following his passing.
“I will always be grateful that I was able to call Shimon my friend,” President Obama said. “I first visited him in Jerusalem when I was a senator, and when I asked for his advice, he told me that while people often say that the future belongs to the young, it’s the present that really belongs to the young. ‘Leave the future to me,’ he said, ‘I have time.'”
“A light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever,” Obama continued. “Shimon Peres was a soldier for Israel, for the Jewish people, for justice, for peace, and for the belief that we can be true to our best selves – to the very end of our time on Earth, and in the legacy that we leave to others. For the gift of his friendship and the example of his leadership, todah rabah, Shimon.”
Though the White House has not made an official announcement, President Obama is expected to attend Peres’ funeral which will be held this Friday. Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton and the Pope are also expected to attend.