JERUSALEM, Sept 28 – Shimon Peres, Israel’s former president and its eldest statesman, passed away in a hospital outside Tel Aviv Wednesday morning, two weeks after he suffered a stroke, a spokesperson for the hospital confirmed to China’s Xinhua news agency.

Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and one of the most central figures in Israeli politics, died at the age of 93.

Peres had been sedated and on respirator since he suffered a stroke on Sept 13 and hospitalised at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center outside Tel Aviv.

His family was expected to give a statement at 7:00 (0500 GMT).

On Tuesday afternoon, local media reported that the veteran statesman was “fighting for his life” after a critical deterioration in his condition. Family members and close friends were invited by the doctors to say goodbye.

He was born as Szymon Perski in 1923 in a Polish town now known as Vishnyeva in Belarus. In 1934, he and his family immigrated to Israel, than known as Palestine.

His nearly 70-year political career covered almost every role in the political arena, including president, two terms of prime minister, foreign minister, defense minister, finance minister, chairman of the Labor party, and leader of the opposition in the parliament.

Peres, who established Israel’s nuclear programme, also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his part in forging the peace accords with the Palestinians a year earlier.

Chairman of the Labour party, Issac Herzog, said in a statement that Peres was “one of Israel’s greatest leaders … He was a mentor, a friend and a great leader who will be remembered forever in the history of Israel.”

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