JERUSALEM, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday expressed "deep personal sorrow" over the passing of the country's former president and eldest statesman, Shimon Peres.
"My wife and I express deep personal sorrow over the passing of the nation's sweetheart, the former Israeli president, Shimon Peres," Netanyahu said in a statement.
The notice also said the cabinet will adjourn later Wednesday to hold a "special mourning meeting."
Two weeks ago, Peres was hospitalized at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center outside Tel Aviv. Tests showed he suffered a stroke and his condition quickly deteriorated. He was sedated and on a respirator during most of his hospitalization.
On Tuesday afternoon, local media reported that the veteran statesman was "fighting for his life" after a critical deterioration in his condition. Channel 10 TV news reported that he died in his sleep, surrounded by his family.
Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and one of the most central figures in Israeli politics, died at the age of 93.
Peres was born as Szymon Perski in 1923 in a Polish town now known as Vishnyeva in Belarus. In 1934, he and his family immigrated to Israel, then known as Palestine.
His nearly 70-year political career covered almost every role in the political arena -- he served twice as prime minister. He also served as foreign minister, defense minister, finance minister, chairman of the Labor Party, and leader of the opposition in the parliament.
Peres won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his part in forging a peace accords with the Palestinians a year earlier.
Chairman of the opposition Labor Party Isaac Herzog said in a statement that Peres was "one of Israel's greatest leaders ... He was a mentor, a friend and a great leader who will be remembered forever in the history of Israel."
The White House released a statement from U.S. President Barack Obama, describing Peres as one of the 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."