Former Israeli head of state Shimon Peres died early Wednesday at a hospital in Tel Aviv surrounded by his family and loved ones. He was rushed to a hospital on September 13 after suffering from a major stroke. After two weeks of living on a respirator, the last member of Israel’s founding fathers finally succumbed to his deteriorating condition. Peres was 93 years old.
“Earlier Tuesday, a visibly shaken minister Aryeh Deri, Israel’s defense minister, told reporters that he had been praying for Peres at his bedside,” reports CNN.
Peres was a fixture of Israeli politics, serving as both the Jewish State’s president (2007 to 2014) and prime minister (1977, 1984-86, 1995-96). In 1994, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his integral role in drafting the Oslo Accords.
Generations of Israelis grew up watching Peres shake the hands of foreign leaders, including Yasser Arafat and Bill Clinton. The speech he gave in the wake of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995 was a signal moment for him.
After 30 years of public life, Peres retired from politics in 2014 after a seven-year term as president. Over the last few years, he developed an image as an elder statesmen, often contradicting his former colleagues to secure the elusive prospect of peace.
In a statement, President Barack Obama called Peres a “dear friend.” “He was guided by a vision of the human dignity and progress that he knew people of goodwill could advance together,” Obama added.
Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan also released a statement following the former prime minister’s death. “The world has lost a true legend and statesman,” stated Ryan, adding:
Shimon Peres was a gift to the country he helped establish and lead, and a persistent voice for the cause of peace. President Peres’ countless contributions to the world earned him the Nobel Peace Prize, Congressional Gold Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. While we join the State of Israel and people around the globe in mourning his death, we also give thanks for his incredible life.
Dignitaries from around the world have joined the bipartisan American representatives in sending the Peres family their condolences.