Former Israeli president Shimon Peres in grave condition

Reports suggest Nobel Peace Prize winner close to death, two weeks after major stroke

Shimon Peres speaks  during an event in The Peres Centre for Peace in Jaffa, Israel, in June. Photograph: Jim Hollander/EPA

Shimon Peres speaks during an event in The Peres Centre for Peace in Jaffa, Israel, in June. Photograph: Jim Hollander/EPA

 

Close relatives of former Israeli president Shimon Peres are at his hospital bedside amid media reports his condition had deteriorated and he was close to death.

Mr Peres (93), was hospitalised following a major stroke two weeks ago and his condition was improving before he suffered a severe setback on Tuesday, according to Israeli media.

A hospital spokeswoman said his condition “was and remains serious, there is a real threat to his life. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate arrived two weeks ago when we were more optimistic but over time there has been no improvement, so naturally there is less optimism”.

Mr Peres, Israel’s most eminent elder statesman, was part of almost every major development from the country’s founding in 1948. In a career spanning nearly 70 years, he served in a dozen cabinets and was twice a Labour prime minister.

He shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the late former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for reaching, in 1993, an interim peace deal which never hardened into a lasting treaty.

Rabin was assassinated in 1995 by an Israeli ultra-nationalist who opposed the interim accords, and it was Mr Peres who took over as prime minister after Rabin’s death.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party visited Mr Peres’s bedside on Tuesday and, close to tears, told reporters afterwards: “We heard (from the doctors) of his serious and deteriorating condition and we are all praying. We are all used to seeing an active and intense Shimon...”

Family members arriving at the hospital declined to comment on Mr Peres’s condition.