Israel’s mission to the United Nations held a memorial ceremony at 9am local time in the UN headquarters to commemorate Shimon Peres, the ninth president of the State of Israel who died early on Wednesday morning at the age of 93.
Israel’s Permanent Representative to the UN Amb. Danny Danon, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, US Amb. Samantha Power and ambassadors from more than 40 countries gathered to show their final respects for the man who often represented Israel on the global stage over the past sixty years, also serving as prime minister, foreign minister, defense minister and a handful of other portfolios.
The Israeli Mission also opened a condolence book for the ambassadors to share their thoughts in memory of Peres, which will later be available to the general public.
At the ceremony, Danon mourned the loss of Israel’s elder statesman: "President Peres, one of our founding fathers, was a man of vision and optimism who dedicated his life to the State of Israel. He contributed so much to Israel’s safety and security and never lost hope. This symbolizes the story of Zionism.
"After years of representing the true face of Israel to the world, today the parliament of nations has gathered to pay their respects. We will remember him as he lived his life until his last days, full of energy and a willingness to work for a better future for Israel. President Peres will continue to inspire us all. May his memory be a blessing."
Ban addressed the ceremony, saying, "I join in the sorrow for loss. I had the privilege to benefit from his wisdom. His leadership will be missed as someone who worked to realize the dream of security and peace for Israel."
Power spoke of Peres's involvement in the establishment of the State of Israel and his hope for the future, commenting, "He made it his personal duty to ensure that others—particularly the younger generations—would not feel despair. He never lost his own youth. I had the privilege of seeing President Peres in February in Israel. And he said what worried him most about the region was that so many young people had lost their hope. This, he understood, was perhaps the greatest threat to peace. And he understood that a future without the prospect of peace was a horizon without light."
Peres was famously keen on working, and the American ambassador ended by highlighting his devotion to his country, saying "To his last day, he never gave up on his belief that the greatest service to both was working to make the dream of peace a reality. He saw that the pursuit of peace was the highest form of patriotism. May his vision of Israel’s future long define Israel’s present."
Peres, who laid in state before the Knesset on Thursday, is to be buried on Friday. His funeral is being attended by representatives from some 90 countries, including US President Barack Obama, former US President Bill Clinton, French President François Hollande, and Spanish King Felipe VI.