One of the great political leaders of Israel, Nobel peace prize laureate Shimon Peres, has died. He was 93 years old. He suffered a stroke two weeks ago.
The Jerusalem Post was first to report his death. Peres was Israel's prime minister twice, and later served as its President.
“He had been seriously ill on a respirator in an Israeli hospital near Tel Aviv and died after his condition deteriorated sharply,” the Guardian reports.
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.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate “did more than anyone to build up his country’s formidable military might,” notes Marilyn Berger of the New York Times, in the paper's obituary for Peres.
As prime minister (twice); as minister of defense, foreign affairs, finance and transportation; and, until 2014, as president, Mr. Peres never left the public stage during Israel’s seven decades.
He led the creation of Israel’s defense industry, negotiated key arms deals with France and Germany and was the prime mover behind the development of Israel’s nuclear weapons. But he was consistent in his search for an accommodation with the Arab world, a search that in recent years left him orphaned as Israeli society lost interest, especially after the upheavals of the 2011 Arab Spring led to tumult on its borders.
Chosen by Parliament in 2007 to serve a seven-year term as president, Mr. Peres had complicated relations with the hawkish government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, elected in 2009. While largely a ceremonial post, the presidency afforded Mr. Peres a perch with access and public attention, and he tried to exert his influence.
For someone who was dogged for decades by a reputation for vanity and back-room dealing, Mr. Peres ended his years in public office as a remarkably beloved figure, promoting the country’s high-tech prowess and cultural reach, a founding pioneer who set an example for forward thinking.