President Barack Obama, in a rare move, ordered the US flag be flown at half-staff at the White House and on federal grounds and government properties on Friday to mark the death of former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, the White House announced on Wednesday.
Peres, the Israeli elder statesman who shared a Nobel Prize for forging a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, died at age 93 on Tuesday following complications from a recent stroke. In top Israeli leadership roles over the decades — including prime minister and president — the Labor Party veteran became a face of the Jewish State, instantly recognized and well-respected in Israel and across the globe.
Only infrequently has the US flag been flown at half-staff to mark the death of foreign dignitaries. Obama last issued the honor in 2013 after the passing of the South African leader Nelson Mandela, and President George W. Bush did the same to honor Pope John Paul II after his death in 2005.
Obama will lead a US delegation to Peres’ funeral on Friday, and former President Bill Clinton is also slated to attend.
“There are few people who we share this world with who change the course of human history, not just through their role in human events, but because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect more of ourselves,” Obama said in a statement from the White House earlier Wednesday. “Shimon was the essence of Israel itself.”