Shimon Peres, Israel’s senior statesman and perhaps the personality most recognized and celebrated world-wide, died on Tuesday night at a hospital in Tel Aviv, after suffering a massive stroke on September 13. A state funeral will be held on Friday. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has summoned his cabinet for a special session in honor of Peres, an immigrant from Belarus in 1934 who went on to hold virtually every major government position from president to prime minister and every major ministry in between. In the days before statehood, Peres became the protégé of Israel’s iconic founding father David Ben Gurion. He was central to the development of Israel’s nuclear program and aviation industry. Despite his propensity for remaining at the epicenter of power, Peres never fared well in national elections. His sole term as prime minister in the 1980s resulted from a power-share arrangement with his political rival Yitzhak Shamir in a unity government. His secret talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization and Yassir Arafat led to the 1993 Oslo Accords for which he, Arafat and then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shared a Nobel Peace Prize. No Israeli was more at home among the international elite than Peres, who was made an honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George by Queen Elizabeth II and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from US President Barack Obama, who will attend Peres’s funeral on Friday.
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