JERUSALEM (CBSNewYork/AP) — Israel’s Foreign Ministry says a long list of world leaders will attend Shimon Peres’ funeral on Friday.
Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said Wednesday that President Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Prince Charles and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are all expected. Governor Andrew Cuomo said he will travel to Israel to attend the funeral. Many other VIPs are also set to attend.
Peres’ son-in-law, Dr. Rafi Walden, said his family had an emotional conversation with Obama. Walden told reporters early Wednesday the family was “very moved.”
Obama was a good friend of Peres and awarded the Israeli leader the presidential medal of freedom in 2012. In a statement, the president said “A light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever.”
“Shimon Peres was a soldier for Israel, for the Jewish people, for justice, for peace, and for the belief that we can be true to our best selves — to the very end of our time on Earth, and in the legacy that we leave to others,” Obama said. “For the gift of his friendship and the example of his leadership, todah rabah, Shimon.”
Peres died overnight, two weeks after suffering a stroke. He was the face of Israel for more than half a century, holding just about every senior political office and was twice elected Israeli prime minister.
Born Shimon Persky in Belarus, his family emigrated to what was then the Palestinian mandate in 1934, when he was just 11. A job as a secretary on a Kibbutz dairy farm led him into politics.
Peres served a record 48 years in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and is considered the father of Israel’s secretive nuclear program.
A champion of peace with the Palestinians, Peres worked with political rival Yitzhak Rabin to secure an interim peace accord with Egypt.
The Oslo Accord, signed at the White House in 1993, earned Peres, Rabin and Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat the Nobel Peace Prize.
In a statement, Bill Clinton called Peres a “genius with a big heart who used his gifts to imagine a future of reconciliation not conflict, economic and social empowerment not anger and frustration, and a nation, a region, and a world enhanced by caring and sharing, not torn asunder by the illusions of permanent dominance and perfect truth.”
“Former President Shimon Peres was a leader and a statesman, and an especially wonderful friend to all of us. He will be missed dearly,” said Cuomo.
Celebrities also took to social media to mourn Peres.
View this post on Instagram
President Shimon Peres was a voice of reason who also happened to have the sensibility of a poet…thoughtful and soft-spoken, but his words echoed loudly around the world. His mind was expansive and his heart was compassionate. He was a brilliant statesman, gifted with the ability to listen to others who did not share his views and still remained determined to find a path forward. Photo: Yosef Avi Yair Engel
Barbra Streisand remembered Peres as a “voice of reason who also happened to have the sensibility of a poet,” she wrote on Instagram.
Sharon Stone and Paula Abdul also took to Twitter to mourn his loss.
Israeli leaders held of moment of silence in remembrance of Peres.
“As Israel’s president, Shimon did so much to unite the nation, and the nation loved him for it,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Just hours before suffering a stroke, Peres posted a Facebook video, urging Israelis to buy locally made products. He promoted his country and its people to the very end.
A former aide to Shimon Peres says his body will lie in state at the Knesset, or Israeli parliament, on Thursday before the state funeral at the country’s national cemetery in Jerusalem on Friday.
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