Israeli ex-president, Nobel laureate Shimon Peres dies

Agence France-Presse . Jerusalem
Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres

Israeli ex-president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres died on Wednesday, some two weeks after suffering a major stroke, triggering an outpouring of grief for the historic figure and beloved statesman.
Peres, who was 93, held nearly every major office in the country, serving twice as prime minister and also as president, a mostly ceremonial role, from 2007 to 2014.
He won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for his role in negotiating the Oslo accords, which envisioned an independent Palestinian state.
Peres died around 3:00am (00:00 GMT), Rafi Walden, who was Peres’s personal doctor and also his son-in-law, said.
His family held a press conference later in the morning, praising Peres’s tireless work ethic and what they called his devotion to peace.
‘He had no interest other than serving the people of Israel,’ said his son Chemi, his eyes moist as he read a letter on behalf of the family at the hospital in Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv.
US president Barack Obama immediately hailed Peres as a friend who ‘never gave up on the possibility of peace.’
‘There are few people who we share this world with who change the course of human history, not just through their role in human events, but because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect more of ourselves,’ Obama said in a statement.
Former US president Bill Clinton, who helped usher in the Oslo peace accords, said: ‘The Middle East has lost a fervent advocate for peace and reconciliation.’
‘I’ll never forget how happy he was 23 years ago when he signed the Oslo accords on the White House lawn, heralding a more hopeful era in Israeli-Palestinian relations.’
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his ‘profound sadness’. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog, the head of Labour, Peres’s longtime party, said he will be ‘forever remembered as an icon of Israel’s history.’
However, a spokesman for Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, welcomed his death and called him a ‘criminal.’
The Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank and dominated by president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah, had not commented.
While Peres has been lauded abroad and in Israel as a peacemaker, many Palestinians view him very differently, citing his involvement in successive Arab-Israeli wars and the occupation of Palestinian territory.
Peres had been in hospital since September 13, when he was admitted feeling unwell and suffered the stroke with internal bleeding.

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