Shimon Peres

“A man of peace”

World leaders react to death of Israeli founding father Shimon Peres

World leaders react to death of Israeli founding father Shimon Peres

The messy and chaotic world of Israeli politics tends to cycle through politicians and parties quickly. But Shimon Peres remained a key figure on that scene for six decades and leaves a powerful legacy.

Peres, who died Wednesday at 93, served as Israel’s prime minister in the 1980s, president from 2007- 2014, parliamentary opposition leader, and in a host of other jobs over a 60-plus-year political career. He essentially started Israel’s nuclear program in the 1950s, and helped draft the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians in the early 1990s, for which he earned a shared Nobel Peace Prize.

Though his political beliefs — namely his dogged support for a two-state solution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict — have fallen out of favor in Israel in recent years, Peres was one of the country’s most popular politicians. And among the global elite and diplomatic class, statements commemorating Peres have been pouring in from all quarters, including from President Obama.

“There are few people who we share this world with who change the course of human history, not just through their role in human events, but because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect more of ourselves,” Obama said in a release. “My friend Shimon was one of those people.”

“He was a warrior who helped secure Israel against its adversaries and a peacemaker who knew, as he liked to say, that there are no hopeless situations, only hopeless people,” National Security Advisor Susan Rice added in a statement of her own.

Though Peres was a more complicated figure than many of the gushing eulogies might suggest — late in his career, he denied the Armenian genocide, for instance — he drew respect from his Palestinian counterparts.

Palestine Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas reportedly sent a letter of condolence to Peres’ family, and a PA delegation “may attend Peres’ funeral” with the family’s blessing.

The funeral is set to take place on Friday in Jerusalem at Har Herzl, a hilltop cemetery where the majority of Israel’s civic leaders are buried. Peres’s grave will be next to that of Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin was an Israeli Prime Minister assassinated in the 1990s and one of Peres’s longtime political rivals in the Labor Party.

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