President Barack Obama joined a chorus of politicians in mourning the passing of former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres on Wednesday, calling him “the essence of Israel itself.”
“A light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever,” Obama said in a statement on the White House’s website.
“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,” Obama said.
Obama is expected to attend Peres’s funeral, which Israeli media said was set to be held on Friday, although details of the ceremony were not made public.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement expressing “deep personal grief at the passing of the beloved of the nation.”
“Genius with a big heart”
In a joint statement, former President Bill Clinton and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton called Peres “a genius with a big heart” and said they had “lost a true and treasured friend”.
“With the passing of Shimon Peres, Israel has lost a leader who championed its security, prosperity, and limitless possibilities from its birth to his last day on earth,” the Clintons wrote.
“The Middle East has lost a fervent advocate for peace and reconciliation and for a future where all the children of Abraham build a better tomorrow together.”
As Europe woke up to the news, more tributes were posted on Twitter.
Ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair praised him as a “political giant” and an inspiration for future generations, while French President Francois Hollande said peace had just lost one of its fiercest champions.
Meanwhile the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said working toward a two-state solution in the Middle East was the only way to honour his memory.