Former Israeli president, Shimon Peres, dies aged 93

President Shimon Peres speaking to members of the Foreign Press Association during a visit to the Israeli town of Sderot, following Palestinian rocket attacks on the city. Picture; Getty

President Shimon Peres speaking to members of the Foreign Press Association during a visit to the Israeli town of Sderot, following Palestinian rocket attacks on the city. Picture; Getty

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Shimon Peres, the Israeli politician who won the Nobel Peace Prize during his unprecedented seven-decade career, has died aged 93.

Mr Peres suffered a major stroke two weeks ago that led to bleeding in his brain. He was sedated and on a respirator during most of his time in hospital, as his condition.

He was the elder statesman of Israeli politics, a former president and prime minister who was one of the country’s most admired leaders and the last surviving link to its founding fathers.

Mr Peres was credited with leading the country through some of its most defining moments, from creating its nuclear arsenal in the 1950s, to withdrawing its troops from Lebanon and guiding a sceptical nation into peace talks with the Palestinians in the 1990s.

A protégé of Israel’s founding father David Ben-Gurion, he led the defence ministry in his 20s and spearheaded the development of Israel’s nuclear programme.

He was first elected to parliament in 1959 and later held every major cabinet post - including defence, finance and foreign affairs - and served three brief stints as prime minister.

His key role in the first Israeli-Palestinian peace accord earned him a Nobel Peace Prize and revered status as Israel’s most recognisable figure abroad.

Political leaders from around the world have paid tribute to Shimon Peres, the last surviving link to Israel’s founding fathers,

President Barack Obama praised Shimon Peres as a man whose commitment to Israel’s security and the pursuit of peace “was rooted in his own unshakeable moral foundation and unflagging optimism”.

Mr Obama said Mr Peres looked to the future “guided by a vision of the human dignity and progress that he knew people of goodwill could advance together”.

He called him “the essence of Israel itself,” noting that Mr Peres had fought for the nation’s independence, worked its land and served in virtually every government position.

The president said that with the death of Mr Peres “a light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever”.

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