UK

Chief rabbi pays tribute to former Israel PM Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres Image copyright EPA/HAKON MOSVOLD LARSEN
Image caption Former Israel PM Shimon Peres "gave hope to millions of people", says the UK's chief rabbi

The chief rabbi of the UK and Commonwealth has paid tribute to former Israeli PM Shimon Peres, describing him as a "true giant amongst men".

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said Mr Peres "was the greatest living example of an unshakable belief in the pursuit of peace against all odds".

Former British PM Tony Blair also paid tribute describing the Nobel Peace prize winner as "a political giant".

Mr Peres died aged 93 on Tuesday, two weeks after suffering a stroke.

He was one of the last of a generation of Israeli politicians present at the new nation's birth in 1948, serving twice as the country's prime minister and once as president.

Mr Peres also won the Nobel Peace prize in 1994 for his role negotiating peace accords with the Palestinians a year earlier.

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will be attending his funeral alongside Prime Minister Theresa May, according to Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Rabbi Mirvis said Mr Peres "gave hope to millions of people" that a peace deal would be achievable.

'Legacy'

He added: "Tragically, thus far, we have not succeeded. But from Shimon Peres we learned that we must never let go of that audacious commitment to peace, even when all around us are ready to do so."

He went on: "For those of us whom he inspired during his remarkable lifetime, we say: No matter what the future holds, your legacy lives on in the Jewish people who will never rest until we achieve our eternal dream of peace among the peoples of the world."

Image copyright PA wire
Image caption Former British PM Tony Blair said Mr Peres was a "visionary"

Mr Blair paid tribute to Mr Peres in a statement which read: "This is a man who was a political giant, a statesman who will rank as one of the foremost of this era or any era, and someone I loved deeply.

"He was an inspiration, a mentor and a friend. His intellect, his way with words that was eloquent beyond description, his command of the world and how it was changing were extraordinary."

Mr Blair said as Mr Peres "grew older, his spirit never did" and said his commitment to peace "marked him out as a visionary".

He added: "He saw every setback as a spur to further action and every moment of hope as a sign of what could be done.

'Great visionary'

"The whole world will mourn his passing, but his memory will live on to inspire future generations to walk in his path."

The former chief rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks also paid tribute saying Mr Peres was "the great visionary of Israeli politics in our time".

He went on: "With his death an era has come to an end - marked by a series of outstanding leaders who showed as much courage in pursuit of peace as they did in the course of war.

"We will mourn him and miss him."

Irish President Michael D Higgins said Mr Peres will be remembered for furthering peace in the Middle East.

"His life mirrored some of the great dramas of 20th century Europe and the Middle East and he shall be remembered for his courage that saw him change course from confrontation to reconciliation," Mr Higgins said.

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