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Tributes as Israel's 'man of peace' Peres dies at 93

By Staff Reporter

Published 29/09/2016

Passed away: Shimon Peres
Passed away: Shimon Peres

The death of Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Israeli president and prime minister Shimon Peres has led to renewed calls for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Peres died in hospital yesterday morning, aged 93, prompting an outpouring of reactions from around the world.

US President Barack Obama led the tributes, which came from world leaders, leading lights of Israeli politics, and family and friends. Mr Obama said: "A light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever.

"Shimon Peres was a soldier for Israel, for the Jewish people, for justice, for peace, and for the belief that we can be true to our best selves - to the very end of our time on Earth, and in the legacy that we leave to others. For the gift of his friendship and the example of his leadership, todah rabah, Shimon."

Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister, added: "I am more sad than words can express. This is a man who was a political giant, a statesman who will rank as one of the foremost of this era or any era, and someone I loved deeply. He was an inspiration, a mentor and a friend. His intellect, his way with words that was eloquent beyond description, his command of the world and how it was changing were extraordinary."

Current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara "expressed deep personal sorrow over the passing of the nation's beloved former president, Shimon Peres", a statement read.

These words were echoed in a statement from former US President Bill Clinton and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

"His critics called him a dreamer. That he was - a lucid, eloquent dreamer until the very end. Thank goodness," they said. "Let those of us who loved him and love his nation keep his dream alive." An aide of the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, mourned Mr Peres as a "man of peace" whose death is "a great loss to humanity and the region".

Over a 66-year-long career in politics, Peres helped establish the state of Israel under his mentor David Ben-Gurion, building up the country's military strength and supporting the establishment of settlements in the West Bank.

By the 1980s his politics had moved to the centre, and he became a tireless advocate for a two state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In the 1993 peace talks with Palestinian Liberation Organisation leader Yasser Arafat, Mr Peres worked to get Palestine recognised by Israel as a negotiating partner and agreed to further talks on issues such as Israeli settlements, the status of Jerusalem, and the Palestinian right to return.

In later life he was beloved as a public figure by most of Israel in his largely ceremonial role as president between 2007-2014.

He was viewed abroad as a reassuring counterbalance to some of the more hawkish policies adopted by Israel's current right-wing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, including settlement expansion in the West Bank which extends over the Green Line agreed upon in 1967.

Belfast Telegraph

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