At times like these, only the late President Shimon Peres could have gathered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama under one roof. And together with these men, leaders of some 90 states came together on the morning of Sept. 30, on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, for a farewell and final salute to the unique leadership of Shimon Peres, in a Nelson Mandela-like funeral. Israel’s ninth president, one of Israel's founding fathers, was a man of multitude achievements, ranging from the establishment of Israel's nuclear reactor in Dimona to leading the Oslo peace process. And he always believed in building international and regional coalitions for Israel.
Peres, with whom I had the privilege to work with for more than 30 years, had unique leadership qualities related to his vision for Israel. Above all, he was a fervent Zionist, very conscious of Jewish history. He embraced the values detailed in Israel's Declaration of Independence and, on this basis, worked relentlessly and creatively to advance Israel’s nation-building process. The strength of Israel and its strategic deterrence were of paramount importance to him. Once acquired, greatly thanks to his efforts together with those of his mentor, Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, the main question on his mind was what to do with this unprecedented strength in Jewish history. And it is the way he responded to this question that explains to us Peres’ policies for Israel and his special character as a leader.