Ex-Israeli president Shimon Peres passes away

Sep 28, 2016, 5:51 AM EDT
Former Israeli president and Nobel peace prize laureate Shimon Peres
(Source: Chatham House/flickr)

Former Israeli president and Nobel peace prize laureate, Shimon Peres, passed away at the age of 93 in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. Peres, who twice served as Israel’s prime minister, suffered a stroke two weeks ago and had since been on respirator. As the news broke out, world leaders offered their tributes to Peres, with U.S. President Barack Obama describing the leader as “the essence of Israel itself.”

Peres, who was viewed as a political hawk in his early years, played a key role in negotiating peace accords with the Palestinians in 1993, an effort that earned him a Nobel peace prize jointly with the then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, writes the BBC.

During his long political career, Peres was instrumental in establishing Israel's secret nuclear facility and securing a deal with France to supply the new Israeli nation with Mirage jet fighters. Peres, who was Israeli Defense Minister in 1976, oversaw the successful rescue of more than 100 hostages after some Palestinians hijacked an Israeli plane and diverted it to Entebbe in Uganda.

Even after Peres’ seven-year presidential term ended in 2014, the elder statesman continued to be an influential voice in the country’s political stage, reports The Guardian. The Yediot Ahronot columnist Nahum Barnea writes, “In his people’s eyes he ceased to be a politician. He became a historic figure, larger than politics, larger than everyday affairs, a figure in a league of his own.”