Shimon Peres, Israel’s former president and its eldest statesman, passed away in a hospital outside Tel Aviv on Wednesday morning. He was 93.
Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and one of the most central figures in Israeli politics, died two weeks after he suffered a stroke, a spokesperson for the hospital confirmed to Xinhua.
Peres had been sedated and on respirator since he suffered a stroke on September 13 and hospitalised at the Chaim Sheba Medical Centre outside Tel Aviv.
His family was expected to give a statement at 7.00 a.m. (local time).
On Tuesday afternoon, the media reported that the veteran statesman was “fighting for his life” after a critical deterioration in his condition.
Family members and close friends were invited by the doctors to say goodbye.
He was born as Szymon Perski in 1923 in a Polish town now known as Vishnyeva in Belarus. In 1934, he and his family immigrated to Israel, than known as Palestine.
Peres became a member of Israel’s parliament in 1959.
His nearly 70-year political career covered almost every role in the political arena, including president, two terms of prime minister, foreign minister, defence minister, finance minister, chairman of the Labor party, and leader of the opposition in the parliament.
He shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in reaching an interim peace agreement with the Palestinians, claiming it alongside late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israel’s former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Rabin was assassinated in 1995 by an Israeli ultra-nationalist who opposed the interim accords — which never hardened into a lasting treaty — and it was Peres who took over as prime minister after Rabin’s death.
As president, a largely ceremonial office he won in 2007, he cultivated an image as the country’s elder statesman and became a popular fixture at international conferences like the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Peres remained active since completing his seven-year term as president in 2014 and was one of the country’s most popular public figures.
Chairman of the Labour party, Issac Herzog, said that Peres was “one of Israel’s greatest leaders … He was a mentor, a friend and a great leader who will be remembered forever in the history of Israel.”