Obama, Putin, Ban, others mourn Peres, to be buried Friday
“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. My friend Shimon was one of those people,” US President Barack Obama, who is expected to attend the late president’s funeral Friday, said in a statement.
“Shimon was the essence of Israel itself — the courage of Israel’s fight for independence, the optimism he shared with his wife Sonya as they helped make the desert bloom, and the perseverance that led him to serve his nation in virtually every position in government across the entire life of the State of Israel,” he said.
Peres worked with every US president since John F. Kennedy, noted Obama, adding that “no one did more over so many years as Shimon Peres to build the alliance between our two countries.
“A light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever,” Obama continued. “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.”
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed Peres as a man who “worked tirelessly for a two-state solution that would enable Israel to live securely and harmoniously with the Palestinians and the wider region, a commitment duly recognized when he shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat.” The late Israeli president was “a good partner of the United Nations, eager to see Israel contribute to the work of the international community,” Ban said in a statement.
“Even in the most difficult hours, he remained an optimist about the prospects for reconciliation and peace,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed Peres for his “courage and patriotism”.
“I was lucky enough to have the chance to speak with this remarkable person many times. Every time I admired his courage and patriotism, his wisdom and vision, his ability to grasp the essence of the most difficult issues,” Putin said in a message of condolence. “In our country he will be remembered as a staunch supporter of the development of friendly Russian-Israeli ties, having done much to strengthen mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation.”
The Kremlin said Putin also praised Peres for his “personal contribution toward achieving a peaceful settlement in the Middle East.”
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said she was “heartbroken” to learn of Peres’s passing, calling him an “immense source of inspiration.” Writing on Twitter, she added that the “only way to honor [his] memory” is to work toward a two-state solution.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: “Shimon Peres was, above all, a man of peace. My deepest condolences to his loved ones and to the people of Israel on his passing.”
US presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, lamented the loss of a leader who championed his country’s “security, prosperity, and limitless possibilities from its birth to his last day on earth.” They said they had lost a “true and treasured friend.”
“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,” they said.
“He was a genius with a big heart who used his gifts to imagine a future of reconciliation not conflict, economic and social empowerment not anger and frustration, and a nation, a region, and a world enhanced by caring and sharing, not torn asunder by the illusions of permanent dominance and perfect truth. His critics called him a dreamer. That he was — a lucid, eloquent dreamer until the very end. Thank goodness. Let those of us who loved him and love his nation keep his dream alive.” TIMES OF ISRAEL
Photo: Peres and Obama in 2013