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In this Monday, Feb. 8, 2016 photo, Israel's former President Shimon Peres poses for a portrait at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, Israel. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Shimon Peres, former Israeli president and controversial visionary, died at 93


Former Israeli President Shimon Peres died early Wednesday of a stroke at the age of 93.

Peres was a national leader through much of Israel's modern history -- seven decades of first battling for Israeli independence and later fighting many of his own countrymen to seek peace with an avowed enemy. He was widely praised for the Oslo Accords, the first peace agreement between Israel and Palestine.

But he never achieved his goal of a Palestinian nation separate from Israel, though he is credited with popularizing the concept.

Peres, born in Poland in 1923, immigrated to what was then known as Mandatory Palestine with his family when he was 9 years old. He was first elected to Israel's parliament in 1959 and went on to serve as prime minister three times.

He is credited with building Israel's military from a small militia into a regional powerhouse. He remained in politics his entire life. After signing the Oslo Accords in 1993, a rash of political violence and Peres' loss in an election to Benjamin Netanyahu prevented Peres from solidifying his plans for peace.

World leaders and U.S. politicians expressed their condolences on Twitter.

World leaders including President Obama and Hillary Clinton will attend his funeral.

Here's the White House's full response.

The Palestinian people are very happy at the passing of this criminal who caused their blood to shed.
Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman

The Palestinian militant group Hamas expressed pleasure at Peres' passing, attributing the occupation of Palestine to his actions.

Peres ... made intensive efforts to reach a long-lasting peace since the Oslo agreement and until the last breath.
Mahmoud Abbas

However, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sent a letter of condolence.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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