Shimon Peres, a former Israeli president and prime minister, whose life story mirrored that of the Jewish state and who was celebrated around the world as a Nobel prize-winning visionary who pushed his country toward peace, died early Wednesday. He was 93.
His son, Chemi, confirmed his death Wednesday morning to reporters gathered at the hospital where Shimon Peres had been treated for the past two weeks.
Peres’ condition worsened following a major stroke two weeks ago that led to bleeding in his brain. He was sedated and on a respirator during most of his hospitalization.
“Today with deep sorrow we bid farewell to our beloved father, the ninth president of Israel,” Chemi Peres said.
“Our father’s legacy has always been to look to tomorrow. We were privileged to be part of his private family, but today we sense that the entire nation of Israel and the global community share this great loss. We share this pain together.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement mourning the passing of Peres. He said he will convene his Cabinet for a special session later in the day. After that, a special committee was to meet to prepare arrangements for a funeral.
President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Britain’s Prince Charles and Pope Francis are all on the list of expected funeral attendees, reports CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata.
As word of Peres’ death spread, reaction started pouring in from Israel and around the globe.
President Obama eulogized him as a man who represented “the essence of Israel itself.”
“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,” he said. “A light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever.”
Shimon Peres son-in-law, Dr. Rafi Walden, said the family was “very moved” by a conversation they had with Mr. Obama, who awarded Peres the presidential medal of freedom in 2012. Walden, who was also Peres’ personal physician, said he died overnight “without suffering.”
Former President Bill Clinton and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said they “lost a true and treasured friend” with the death of Peres.
The Clintons said Israel has lost a leader “who championed its security, prosperity and limitless possibilities from its birth to his last day on earth.” They called him “a genius with a big heart who used his gifts to imagine a future of reconciliation, not conflict.”
Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush also issued statements of mourning.
Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is the elder statesman of Israeli politics, one of the country’s most admired leaders and the last surviving link to its founding fathers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.