Sep 28, 2016 9:05 PM

The Latest: Obama orders flags at half-staff for Peres

The Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on the death of former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres (all times local):

4 a.m.

President Barack Obama has ordered all U.S. flags on federal property to be flown at half-staff in the memory of former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who died Wednesday.

Obama's order covers all federal buildings and grounds throughout the United States and its territories, as well as U.S. embassies, military bases and other facilities abroad.

The order directs flags to be flown at half-staff through sunset Friday.


11:19 p.m.

The White House says President Barack Obama will lead a delegation to Jerusalem to attend Friday's funeral for former Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Peres died Wednesday due to complications from a stroke. The former Israeli prime minister was 93.

Obama said in a statement that Peres had changed the course of human history by expanding the "moral imagination" and forcing people to expect more from themselves.

Obama was scheduled to travel to Jerusalem on Thursday. He was to go to the White House on Friday following the ceremony.

The White House didn't identify other members of the U.S. delegation that will accompany Obama.


8:30 p.m.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is remembering former Israeli statesman Shimon Peres as a man of peace and a friend to Canada.

Trudeau says Peres, who died early Wednesday at the age of 93, was an internationally respected statesman.

He recalled visiting Peres in Israel when he was Israel's president, saying the former leader regaled him with stories of his friendship with his father, former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Trudeau says Peres expressed deep affection for Canadians.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said he met Peres in 1999. Dion says Peres attached his name to the goal of peace and should be an inspiration for all.

Trudeau says he will attend a memorial service Friday in Israel.


6 p.m.

Pope Francis has praised the late Israeli statesman Shimon Peres for his "tireless efforts in favor of peace."

The Vatican released a text of a telegram Wednesday, in which Francis expressed deep sadness at Peres' death and offered heartfelt condolences to all the people of Israel.

Said the pope: "As the State of Israel mourns Mr. Peres, I hope that his memory and many years of service will inspire us all to work with ever greater urgency for peace and reconciliation between peoples."

In that way, "his legacy will truly be honored and the common good for which he so diligently labored will find new expressions, as humanity strives to advance on the path toward enduring peace."

Francis assured his prayers for all those who grieve, especially the Peres family, and invoked "the divine blessings of consolation and strength upon the nation."


4:45 p.m.

Italy's foreign minister, recalling Shimon Peres as a "tireless supporter" of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is hailing the late Israeli leader as a "symbol of peace."

Paolo Gentiloni said Peres "is the history of Israel, from a young immigrant to an elderly president, a Nobel prize winner, a symbol of peace of this country."

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi noted he had met Peres earlier this month at the annual political and economic gathering in Cernobbio, northern Italy. He says "we all recall him with affection and gratitude."

Peres, a former president and prime minister whose political career spanned seven decades, died early Wednesday after suffering a massive stroke earlier this month.

He shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his role in the negotiations that led to the Oslo accords with the Palestinians the previous year.


2:20 p.m.

The Palestinian president is expressing his sadness over the death of Shimon Peres.

In a statement, Mahmoud Abbas said he has sent a condolence letter to Peres' family expressing "sorrow and sympathy."

He called Peres a partner in reaching a "peace of the brave" with the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The three men shared the 1994 Nobel Peace prize for reaching the Oslo interim peace accord.

Abbas said Peres "exerted persistent efforts to reach a just peace from the Oslo agreement until the final moments of his life."


1:40 p.m.

Israel's parliament is lowering its flags to half-staff and preparing to display the coffin of former Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Knesset spokesman Yotam Yakir says an honor guard will accompany parliament speaker Yuli Edelstein as the flags are lowered Wednesday.

Peres' body will lay in state in front of the Knesset building Thursday.

Israeli officials are feverishly preparing security arrangements and logistics to host an array of world figures arriving in Israel for Peres' funeral Friday.


12:15 p.m.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas expressed happiness at the death of former Israeli President Shimon Peres.

A spokesman for the group, Sami Abu Zuhri, tells The Associated Press Wednesday, "the Palestinian people are very happy at the passing of this criminal who caused their blood to shed."

He adds, "Shimon Peres was the last remaining Israeli official who founded the occupation, and his death is the end of a phase in the history of this occupation and the beginning of a new phase of weakness."

Hamas is sworn to the destruction of Israel. In 2007, it routed forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas and took over the Gaza Strip.

There was no immediate comment from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who supports the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.


11:15 a.m.

The Vatican says that Pope Francis will not be attending the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres, despite earlier reports that he would be coming.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke says the pope will not be able to attend Friday's funeral in Jerusalem, noting that he is scheduled to begin a three-day trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan that day.

Israel's Foreign Ministry, after earlier saying the pope would be in attendance, said Wednesday that he was no longer scheduled to attend. It gave no further details.


10:45 a.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has convened a special session of his governing Cabinet to mark the death of Shimon Peres.

Netanyahu said that Peres "never stopped trying to reach to peace and believing in peace. His hand was always extended to a historic compromise with our neighbors, and even if this compromise tarried, he taught us never to give in to despair, but to cling to hope."

Netanyahu, Peres' longtime political rival, acknowledged that the two "had differences of opinion" but said their relations strengthened with time. Peres served as president during Netanyahu's previous term as prime minister.


10:02 a.m.

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, Pope Francis, Prince Charles and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are all expected.

He says many other VIPs are expected to attend.

Peres, a Nobel peace laureate, was a respected statesman and a frequent participant at international conferences.


9:40 a.m.

Israel's prime minister is remembering Shimon Peres as a "man of vision."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid tribute to Peres in a video statement on Wednesday, shortly before convening his Cabinet for a special session.

"As a man of vision, his gaze was aimed to the future," Netanyahu said. "As a man of security, he fortified Israel's strength in many ways, some of which even today are still unknown. As a man of peace, he worked until his final days toward reconciling with our neighbors for a better future for our children."

Peres died early Wednesday, two weeks after suffering a stroke.


8:40 a.m.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin says he is cutting short an official visit to Ukraine to attend the funeral of former President Shimon Peres in Israel.

Rivlin is in Ukraine for a commemoration of the 1941 Babi Yar massacre, in which more than 100,000 Jews and others were killed by Nazi officers in a ravine on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev during World War II.

Rivlin says in a statement Wednesday, "A short distance from where I am visiting in Ukraine, in the city of Vishnyeva, Belarus, was born Szymon Perski, who grew to be a young man with great dreams."

Peres later immigrated to pre-state Israel and changed his last name.

Rivlin says, "Shimon made us look far into the future, and we loved him. We loved him because he made us dare to imagine not what was once here, nor what is now, but what could be."

Rivlin succeeded Peres as president in 2014.


8:15 a.m.

A former aide to Shimon Peres says his body will lie in state at the Knesset, or Israeli parliament, on Thursday before a state funeral at the country's national cemetery in Jerusalem on Friday.

Yona Bartal, his former aide, told Israel's Channel 10 TV that the plans were in line with Peres' wishes.

Peres died early Wednesday, two weeks after suffering a stroke.


7:45 a.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold a special Cabinet meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday following the death of former President Shimon Peres.

After the Cabinet meeting, a special committee was to begin preparing funeral arrangements. Many international dignitaries and world leaders are expected to attend.


7:30 a.m.

The son-in-law of late Israeli President Shimon Peres says his family had an emotional conversation with President Barack Obama.

Dr. Rafi 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.

Walden, who was also Peres' personal physician, says Peres died overnight "without suffering."

The former Israeli leader died in the hospital where he had been treated after a major stroke two weeks ago


7:20 a.m.

Former President Bill Clinton says he and his wife, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, lost a "treasured friend" in Shimon Peres. The former Israeli president and prime minister died early Wednesday at age 93.

Bill Clinton said in a statement that "Israel has lost a leader who championed its security, prosperity, and limitless possibilities from its birth to his last day on earth. The Middle East has lost a fervent advocate for peace and reconciliation and for a future where all the children of Abraham build a better tomorrow together. And Hillary and I have lost a true and treasured friend."

He 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.

"His critics called him a dreamer," Clinton said. "That he was — a lucid, eloquent dreamer until the very end. Thank goodness."


7:10 a.m.

The family of former Israeli President Shimon Peres has confirmed he died Wednesday morning.

His son, Chemi, made the announcement to reporters gathered at the hospital where Peres has been treated for the past two weeks.

"Today with deep sorrow we bid farewell to our beloved father, the 9th president of Israel," he said.

"Our father's legacy has always been to look to tomorrow. We were privileged to be part of his private family, but today we sense that the entire nation of Israel and the global community share this great loss. We share this pain together."


6:50 a.m.

Former President George H.W. Bush says Shimon Peres inspired the world and helped pave a path to peace. The former Israeli president and prime minister died early Wednesday at age 93.

Bush issued a statement saying he and his wife, Barbara, "join Shimon Peres' countless admirers around the world in saluting his singular life of service — to the universal cause of freedom, to the timeless cause of Israel, to the noblest cause of peace.

He says Peres "time and again helped guide his beloved country through the crucible of mortal challenge. But it was by his innate humanity, his decency, that Shimon inspired the world over and helped pave a path to peace broad enough that future generations will walk it one day, side-by side."


6:40 a.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a statement of mourning for former President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who died early Wednesday.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara express deep personal sorrow over the passing of the nation's beloved former president, Shimon Peres," the statement read. "The prime minister will deliver a special address this morning and convene the cabinet for a mourning session."


6:30 a.m.

President Barack Obama is praising former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres as a statesman whose commitment to Israel's security and the pursuit of peace "was rooted in his own unshakeable moral foundation and unflagging optimism."

Peres died early Wednesday, two weeks after suffering a stroke.

In a statement from the White House, Obama says Peres looked to the future, "guided by a vision of the human dignity and progress that he knew people of goodwill could advance together."

Obama calls Peres "the essence of Israel itself," noting Peres had fought for Israel's independence, worked its land and served Israel in virtually every government position.

Obama says that with the death of Peres, "a light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever."


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