JERUSALEM (CBSMiami) — Tens of thousands of mourners are paying their final respects to former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres.
The 93-year-old, who died early Wednesday following a stroke, is lying in state outside Israel’s parliament in Jerusalem.
People from all over the world went to honor him, including former President Bill Clinton.
President Barack Obama is flying to Israel now. Upon hearing the news of Peres’ death, Obama gave this tribute: “A light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever.”
He also said Peres changed the course of human history, working with other world leaders for decades to bring peace to the Middle East.
The consul general of Israel to Florida remembers traveling with Peres during his presidency, and recalls he was well-liked everywhere.
“He got a lot of love from people all over the world, obviously in Israel,” said Lior Haiat. “It’s like I don’t know if I’ll say a father, but it’s like our grandfather had died and we’re all gonna miss him. He was part of all our lives.”
His service in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, was to last a record 48 years. Peres served as a minister in twelve cabinets and was prime minister twice.
His political career encompassed all of Israel’s wars but Peres believed his country’s security lay as much in making peace as it did in being prepared for conflict.
Peres co-operated with his fierce political rival Yitzhak Rabin to secure an interim peace accord with Egypt which formed the basis of the historic treaty signed by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
As foreign minister, Peres was in charge of the peace process with the Palestinians. “The Oslo Accord,” signed at the White House in 1993, won Peres, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat the Nobel Peace Prize.
In a testament to Peres’ ability to foster peace, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is also planning to attend Peres’ state funeral Friday.