Former Israeli leader Shimon Peres died in a hospital near Tel Aviv early on Wednesday, September 28, with his family at his bedside. He had been in the intensive care unit of the Sheba Medical Centre after suffering a major stroke on September 13.

The funeral will be held on Friday at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, Israel’s national cemetery.

Mr Peres’s son, Chemi, said of his father: “He served our people before we even had a country of our own. He worked tirelessly for Israel from the very first day of the state to the last day of his life.”

“My father used to say – and I’m quoting – ‘You are only as great as the cause you serve,'” he added.

He “left us without suffering”, said Rafi Walden, his son-in-law and personal physician.

Peres served twice as Israel’s prime minister and once as president.

His son Chemi led tributes to “one of the founding fathers of the state of Israel” who “worked tirelessly” for it.

World figures are expected to attend his funeral in Jerusalem on Friday, including US President Barack Obama, Prince Charles and Pope Francis.

Mr Peres was one of the last of a generation of Israeli politicians present at the new nation’s birth in 1948.

He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his role negotiating the Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians a year earlier, a prize he shared with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was later assassinated, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

He once said the Palestinians were Israel’s “closest neighbours” and might become its “closest friends”.

Born in Poland on August 2, 1923, Mr Peres moved with his family to Tel Aviv in the 1930s during the time of the British mandate in Palestine.

He joined the Labour Zionist movement and then the Haganah, the underground Jewish paramilitary force that would later become the Israeli Defence Forces.

He became a close aide to David Ben-Gurion, who would become Israel’s first prime minister, and Mr Ben-Gurion tasked him with sourcing guns for the Haganah in preparation for the war between Arabs and Jews which broke out in 1948.

Mr Peres spent much of the following years helping to arm Israel’s fledgling military, often by circumventing arms embargoes and eventually by negotiating with US and European powers to send weapons to the Jewish state.

He also played a major role in Israel’s secret development of a nuclear weapons programme in the 1960s.

–With agency reports

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