World leaders mourn, praise the man and his leadership
Current and former world leaders mourned the passing of Shimon Peres on Wednesday, praising him as a patriot, visionary statesman and man of principle who was deeply committed to pursuing peace in a region that has mostly eluded it.
President Barack Obama called Peres “the essence of Israel itself,” noting he had fought for Israel’s independence, worked its land and served Israel in virtually every government position, including three stints as prime minister.
“I’ll never forget how happy he was 23 years ago when he signed the Oslo Accords on the White House lawn, heralding a more hopeful era in Israeli-Palestinian relations,” former president Bill Clinton said in a statement. “He was a genius with a big heart who used his gifts to imagine a future of reconciliation not conflict.”
Peres, who served in the largely ceremonial role of president from 2007 to 2014, represented a moderate face of Israel after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office in 2009. He remained active in trying to achieve peace.
Former British prime minister Tony Blair, who also worked as a Mideast peace envoy, said Peres’ “commitment to peace and his belief that it was in the interests of the country he adored marked him out as a visionary whose vision was never dimmed or displaced.”
Netanyahu issued a statement mourning the passing of Peres and said he would convene his Cabinet for a special session. After that, a special committee was to meet to prepare arrangements for a funeral that many international dignitaries and leaders from around the world are expected to attend.
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Peres “believed that the best way to serve the state of Israel and to deliver security to the Israeli people was through peace with the Palestinians. We can only honor his memory with a daily commitment to reconciliation, preserving and advancing his vision for a twostate solution.’’