One of Israel’s defining political figures and a Nobel peace prize laureate, Shimon Peres, has died at the age of 93, two weeks after suffering a stroke.
Peres had twice served as prime minister of Israel and later as the country’s ninth president. He had been seriously ill on a respirator in an Israeli hospital near Tel Aviv and died after his condition deteriorated sharply.
Among those who have said they will attend his funeral and burial on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl on Friday are president Barack Obama, democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her husband former president Bill Clinton, as well as Prince Charles and the French president Francois Hollande.
In over six decades of political life his defining achievement was as one of the key architects of the Oslo peace accords, for which he was jointly awarded the Nobel peace prize with the then Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation in 1994.
Those peace agreements – signed in Washington in 1993 and Taba, Egypt in 1995, signed between Israel and the Palestinian – foresaw the creation of a Palestinian state – and were named after the Norwegian capital where the two sides launched eight months of secret negotiations in which Peres played a key role.
With Peres’s death the last of that trio has now gone.
Yitzhak Rabin was cut down by a right wing assassin’s bullet in 1995, with Arafat himself dying nine years later in 2004. And today the prospect of the peace and two state solution offered by Oslo is further away with the collapse of that peace process in 2014.
Peres’s death was formally confirmed on Wednesday morning by his son Chemi in a news conference at the hospital where his father had been treated. He had been rushed to hospital on 13 September after suffering a stroke.
“Today with deep sorrow we bid farewell to our beloved father, the ninth president of Israel,” said Peres’s son. “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.”