Israel as well as the international community are mourning the passing of Israel’s statesman and peacemaker, Shimon Peres.
Perhaps it is not an exaggeration to say he was the most important popular figure ever in the history of Israeli politics and governance.
Shimon Peres had a stroke 2 weeks ago and was being hospitalized.
In the early hours of today his son Chemi in a news conference at the hospital announced the death of Shimon Peres.
“Today with deep sorrow we bid farewell to our beloved father, the ninth president of Israel.”
“Our father’s legacy has always been to look to tomorrow. We were privileged to be part of his private family, but today we sense that the entire nation of Israel and the global community share this great loss. We share this pain together.”
World leaders have sent in their condolence to the bereaved family and Israeli government at large. The President of the United States who described Shimon Peres as “the essence of Israel itself” says he will honor his funeral and burial on Friday in Israel.
Other dignitaries such as the Clintons, Prince Charles, Pope Francis and François Hollande of France will also be at the occasion.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has sent in his condolence to Mr Peres’ family.
Shimon Peres is mostly remembered for the Oslo agreement. The Oslo Accord was a peace deal between the government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
For his role in the peace treaty, Shimon was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1994 alongside the then Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
In the 80’s political records showed the drastic shift of Shimon’s personality from a “hawk” who had skeptical views about territorial compromise, to a peacemaker who wanted less or no wars.
In the words of the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon:
“He worked tirelessly for a two-state solution that would enable Israel to live securely and harmoniously with the Palestinians and the wider region.”
“Even in the most difficult hours, he remained an optimist about the prospects for reconciliation and peace.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has also expressed his sadness over the loss of Shimon, the last of the founding fathers of the new Israel.
“As a man of vision, his gaze was aimed to the future,”
“As a man of security, he fortified Israel’s strength in many ways, some of which even today are still unknown,”
“As a man of peace, he worked until his final days toward reconciling with our neighbours for a better future for our children.”