The world mourns Shimon Peres

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres died on Wednesday aged 93 after suffering a stroke. Twice Israeli prime minister, he also served as the country's president from 2007 to 2014. Some commentators lament that the peace process initiated by Peres still hasn't borne fruit. Others criticise him as a politician of unfulfilled hopes and expectations.

Open/close all quotes
El Mundo (ES) /

Peace talks would be best tribute

Representatives from over 70 countries are attending the funeral Shimon Peres in Jerusalem today. The best tribute they can pay to the former Israeli president is to continue to fight for peace, El Mundo enjoins:

“Today we are also saying farewell to an understanding of politics based on the values of dialogue, peace and reconciliation so sorely missed between these two nations which still haven't found a solution for peaceful coexistence. … By attending the ceremony Barack Obama, John Kerry, Bill and Hillary Clinton, François Hollande, Tony Blair, Prince Charles of England, King Felipe VI of Spain and many others are paying tribute to a commitment to peace that should be the model for the future. The best homage that Israel as well as the rest of the international community can pay to Shimon Peres is to continue his legacy and work to put an end to a conflict that has already gone on for too long.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Peres was an occupier and oppressor

The Belgian-Lebanese journalist Dyab Abou Jahjah criticises in his column in De Standaard the universal praise for Shimon Peres:

“He was the architect of Israel's illegal and secret nuclear weapons arsenal, he was the architect of the illegal settlement policy in the West Bank and he defended the Israeli blockade and the murderous bombings in Gaza right to the end. That Peres along with Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 is the biggest farce in the history of the Nobel awards. … Before we can talk about peacemaking and begin with reconciliation peace must be established on a fair basis, as it was in South Africa. But Peres was no Frederik Willem de Klerk [the ex-president of South Africa] and Arafat was no Nelson Mandela. And while the Palestinians sometimes offered violent resistance from their underdog position, the violence of Peres was the violence of an occupier and a powerful oppressor. That is how he lived and that is how he died.”

Le Temps (CH) /

Expectations more fuelled than fulfilled

The positive image the world has of Shimon Peres does not necessarily correspond to the reality, Le Temps contends:

“Unfortunately he was more often a man of missed opportunities than of decisive victories. ... 'From Dimona [Israel's nuclear facility] to Oslo' is the saying often used to sum up his career. Dimona stands for the status of a nuclear power which Peres obtained by wooing the French. Oslo, by contrast, stands for a dream that gradually turned into a nightmare for the Palestinians, despite the handshakes at the White House and the Nobel Peace Prize. ... Between these two poles Shimon Peres occupied almost all of the power positions available. But outside Israel in particular, he was a repository for expectations he did more to fuel than to fulfil.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Peres failed to convince Israelis to make peace

Even Israelis who believed in reconciliation with the Palestinians always preferred hardliners over Shimon Peres at the ballot box, columnist Anshel Pfeffer writes in the Guardian:

“There was always something too outlandish, too foreign and detached from reality in the way Peres spoke of his visions for a 'new Middle East'. While opinion polls showed a majority of Israelis in favour of his positions, in principle, at the ballot box they preferred a stern rightwinger in government. They were willing to trust Labour only with a reassuringly tough retired general leading the party, like Rabin or Ehud Barak. Prime minister Peres simply wasn’t a combination of words that inspired enough confidence and security”

Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

Palestinian state remains unfulfilled dream

Only the establishment of a Palestinian state can change the situation in the Middle East, Il Sole 24 Ore believes:

“What is Peres' legacy to his people? An opportunity that was filed away in the archives, like the Oslo Accords. Bibi Netanyahu and the relative majority of Israelis who have unswervingly voted for him over four legislative periods are convinced that - as long as the others don't change - they can continue to live in an impregnable fortress and enjoy the modernity and prosperity that Peres gave them. … In 2018 the country will celebrate the 70th anniversary of its founding. Israel still has no fixed borders and Jerusalem is still not recognised as the country's capital. Only the birth of a Palestinian state can achieve this. Shimon Peres knew that. But his dream has not come true.”