World mourns Peres: Friend, Visionary, Dreamer
JACK GUEZ (AFP/Archives)
Former Israeli President and Nobel Laureate Simon Peres died overnight Wednesday, aged 93.
Peres was hospitalized two weeks ago following a major stroke.
Born in 1923, in on August 2, 1923 in Wieniawa, Poland (now Vishniev in Belarus), Peres went on to hold nearly every major office in Israel, serving twice as prime minister. He was president, a mostly ceremonial role, from 2007 to 2014.
He won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for his role in negotiating the Oslo Accords, which envisioned an independent Palestinian state.
The former hawk turned dove is widely respected both in Israel and abroad, regularly meeting world leaders and celebrities.
Peres had often said that his only regret in life was not dreaming big enough as he urged others to dream bigger.
Condolences have been pouring pouring in from around the world from people whose lives Peres has impacted through his political endeavours, his activism for peace and sparkling personality.
These are the words a few such people.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that "With all the citizens of Israel, with all the Jewish people, and much of the world, I bow my head in memory of our beloved,sweetheart of the nation, the late Shimon Peres."
"Simon dedicated his life to Independence with us. As a visionary, he looked to the future. In the defense Ministry he helped fortify the power of Israel in many ways, some still unknown even today. As a man of peace, he followed up to his last days efforts of reconciliation with our neighbors and a better future for our children."
"There are few people in our history who have contributed so much to the State of Israel and the people of Israel as Shimon Peres."
We grieve today for the passing of our dear and beloved Shimon Peres.— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) September 28, 2016
Shimon devoted his life to our nation and to the pursuit of peace. pic.twitter.com/ttBjb7ZKfY
Current President Reuvin Rivlin has cut short his visit to the Ukraine and is returning to Israel following the news of Peres' passing. He said "there is no decade in Israel's history that Peres had no effect on in one way or another."
Opposition leader and Zionist Union chair Isaac Herzog: "I have known Peres and his family since I was a child, and as an adult I had the chance to be his assistant, advisor and friend. There is so much more to say about this great man, but now is a time for me and all of us to celebrate his life, and grieve his passing."
Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni said that it would be hard to imagine an Israel without Peres.
Speaking exclusively to i24news on Wednesday Livni explained the impact that Peres had on her life both professionally and personally.
"In my first job in the government as a minister he was my mentor and my teacher regarding the Middle East and our neighbors," she said. "When I negotiated with the Palestinians – in the dark days – I used to meet with him and it was like he injected new energy into me."
"Shimon Peres was willing to take the heat for his beliefs, that’s the difference between a politician and a great leader. He was a great leader," Livni continued, adding "I hope peace is not buried with Peres. There is this sadness, this feeling that its the end of an era. It can not be the end of peace and hope ."
An aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told i24news that Abbas said "Peres' death is a great loss to humanity and the region."
The aide said that it has not been decided yet whether Abbas will attend the funeral.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday hailed Peres as a friend who never gave up on peace.
"There are few people who we share the world with who change the course of history, not just through their role in human events, but because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect more from ourselves. My friend Shimon Peres was one of those people."
Hillary and Bill Clinton released a joint statement in which they say that "The Middle East has lost a fervent advocate fro peace, reconciliation and for a future where all the children of Abraham build a better tomorrow together."
"Israel has lost a leader who championed its security, prosperity and limitless possibilities from it's birth to his last day one Earth," they add.
Bill Clinton posted a tribute to Peres on Twitter, writing "I will miss Shimon Peres, my brilliant and eloquent friend. His life was a blessing for all who strive for peace."
They will both be attending the funeral on Friday.
Former President George Bush: "By his unyielding determination and principle, Shimon Peres time and again helped guide his beloved country through the crucible of mortal challenge. But it was by his innate humanity, his decency, that Shimon inspired the world over and helped pave a path to peace broad enough that future generations will walk it one day, side by side."
Former UK prime minister Tony Blair said that Shimon Peres was a political giant, a statesman who will rank as one of the foremost of this era or any era, and someone I loved deeply."
Britain's Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis called Peres "a true giant among men" and "the greatest living example of an unshakeable belief in the pursuit of peace against all odds."
"Tragically, thus far, we have not succeed. But from Shimon Peres we learned that we must never let go of that audacious commitment, even when all around us already do so,' Rabbi Mirvis added.
His Royal Highness Prince Charles is reportedly to attend the funeral on Friday.
French President Francois Hollande said that "Shimon Peres now belongs to history, which was his companion during his long life.
"With the death of Shimon Peres, Israel has lost one of its most illustrious statesmen, and peace one of its most ardent defenders."
German President Joachim Gauck said that "marked Israel like no other politician. He served his country in different roles with solid principles when it concerned Israel's security and a strong will when it was about advancing the peace process with the Palestinians.
Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz wrote that "Shimon Peres' death is a big loss for Israel and the whole world. He always strived for peace and has thereby shaped Israel's role in the world."
Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed Peres for his "courage and patriotism".
"I was lucky enough to have the chance to speak with this remarkable person many times. Every time I admired his courage and patriotism, his wisdom and vision, his ability to grasp the essence of the most difficult issues," Putin said in a message of condolence.
"In our country he will be remembered as a staunch supporter of the development of friendly Russian-Israeli ties, having done much to strengthen mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation."
Indian Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi said that in Shimon Peres the world has lost a key leader. "We lost a key world leader and a friend of India. We are pained by his loss. Our condolences to people of Israel."
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder called Peres “one of the greatest human beings I have ever known: an astute statesman, a great intellectual and strategist, a seasoned diplomat, and a peace-maker. He did Israel proud, and he made Jews in every corner of the world proud.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hailed Peres's long efforts to forge a deal aimed at fostering peace in Israel and the Middle East.
"He worked tirelessly for a two-state solution that would enable Israel to live securely and harmoniously with the Palestinians and the wider region," Ban said.
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