Prime Minister's tribute to "visionary and courageous statesman"

THE Prime Minister Theresa May has joined world leaders and Conservatives today to pay tribute to the “visionary and courageous statesman” Shimon Peres, who died this morning aged 93. 

Mourning the passing of the former Israeli leader, Mrs May said: “I am deeply saddened to hear that Shimon Peres has died. He was a visionary and courageous statesman, who worked relentlessly for peace and never lost hope that this would one day be achievable.

"He was a truly deserving winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. My thoughts go out to the Israeli people and the family of Shimon Peres as they mourn the loss of a beloved father and compatriot – a great man who epitomised optimism and a belief that by working together we can build a brighter future for generations to come," said Mrs May. 

The Prime Minister and Prince Charles will attend his funeral and burial on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl on Friday.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he was “deeply saddened to hear of one of the great leaders of our time”. He released the following statement: “In my last conversation with him he told me that 'pessimists and optimists pass away the same way. But if you leave as an optimist you have had a better life.'

"He certainly had a better life and throughout his long and distinguished career he was a towering figure in Israel and around the world. He was a man of action but also one of peace and we should remember his tireless efforts to secure a lasting peace for the Middle East. 

United States President Barack Obama said: “Shimon was the essence of Israel itself—the courage of Israel’s fight for
independence”. 

President Obama said: “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”.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he bowed his head “together with all the citizens of Israel, the Jewish People and many others throughout the world” in memory of Peres, who “dedicated his life to the independence of our people”. 

In a statement, Mr Netanyahu said: “As a man of vision, he looked to the future. As a man of security, he strengthened Israel’s power in many ways, some of which remain unknown to this day. As a man of peace, he worked until his final days for reconciliation with our neighbours and for a better future for our children."

The Parliamentary Chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel, Sir Eric Pickles, and CFI's Honorary President Lord Polak mourned the death of “Israel's last living founding father” Shimon Peres today. In a statement, they said: “Shimon Peres was a giant. Israel’s last living founding father, Shimon played a role in every defining moment in the country’s history during his six decades of public service. Revered in Israel and beyond as a man of great vision, the Nobel Peace Prize winner will be best remembered for his efforts to find a lasting peace with Israel’s neighbours. He will be sorely missed."

Mr Peres was married to Sonya, who passed away in 2011; they had two sons and a daughter, and eight grandchildren.

After suffering a stroke on the 13th September, he was placed in a medically induced coma. On 27th September, his condition rapidly deteriorated. 

He will be laid to rest on Friday at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl.