Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - "We have lost a great man. A man of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue. A man of peace. Let us pray because in Israel, especially now, there is a need for men like him". This is how Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, commented the death of former Israeli President Shimon Peres to Agenzia Fides, who died today, 28 September, at the age of 93. A few days ago the old leader had been hospitalized at the Sheba Hospital in Tel Aviv after a major stroke.
Shimon Peres was a leading member of the Israeli Labor Party, led by him without interruption from 1977 to 1992 and subsequently several times until 2005. Before becoming President of Israel – from 2007 to 2014 – he had held various senior government positions: Prime Minister (1984-1986 and 1995-1996) and Minister of Foreign Affairs (1986-1988, 1992-1995 and 2001-2002). In 1994, Peres was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat for their efforts in the peace process in the Middle East, which culminated in the Oslo Accords.
In his long political career, Peres met three Popes: John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis. His last meeting with the current Bishop of Rome had taken place at the Vatican on 20 June. In October 2010, interviewed by 30Giorni magazine about relations between Israel and the Holy See, the then Israeli President said: "Relations are at their best possible from 2000 years to this day. From the time of Jesus to today we have never had better relations". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 28/09/2016)