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Former Israeli Leader, Nobel Laureate Shimon Peres Dead At 93

  • RFE/RL

Shimon Peres filled nearly every position in Israeli public life.

Shimon Peres filled nearly every position in Israeli public life.

Former Israeli president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres has died at the age of 93 after suffering a major stroke.

Peres was one of the country's most admired leaders at home and abroad and the last surviving link to Israel's founding fathers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement expressing “deep personal grief at the passing of the beloved of the nation.”

U.S President Barack Obama called Peres one of the few people “who change the course of human history not just through their role in human events but because they expand our moral imagination.”

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier credited Peres with shaping the complex German-Israeli relationship in the aftermath of World War II.

“Through his steadfast desire to join the past with the future, Shimon Peres dedicated himself to the unique friendship between Israel and Germany,” Steinmeier said in a statement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a statement expressing admiration for Peres's "courage and patriotism, his wisdom and vision."

Peres was born in 1923 in the village of Wiszneiw, Poland, which is now the town of Vishnyeva, Belarus.

Peres was involved in nearly every major development in Israel’s history since its founding in 1948. He served in a dozen cabinets and was twice prime minister. He was Israel’s president from 2007 until 2014.

He was credited with leading the country through some of its most defining moments, from creating its nuclear arsenal in the 1950s to guiding a skeptical nation into peace talks with the Palestinians in the 1990s.

He shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for their roles in negotiating a 1993 peace deal that never evolved into a permanent treaty.

"There is no alternative to peace,” Peres once said. “There is no sense to go to war.

"Terror doesn't have a message. Terror cannot bake bread and cannot offer fresh air to breathe. It's costly; it's useless; it doesn't produce anything."

Peres was particularly lauded abroad. His lavish 80th birthday party was attended by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Film director Woody Allen sent greetings "from a bad Jew to a very great Jew."

Peres will be laid to rest on September 30 in a ceremony to be attended by Obama, Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Pope Francis, Britain’s Prince Charles, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and many other luminaries.

With reporting by AP, AFP, the BBC, and Reuters