TEL AVIV – President Barack Obama has ordered U.S. flags at the White House and all federal property across the country and abroad to be flown at half-mast in memory of the late Israeli statesman Shimon Peres.
“As a mark of respect for the memory of Shimon Peres, former President and Prime Minister of Israel, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me … that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and on all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels,” a proclamation sent by the White House between Wednesday and Thursday said.
The directive also included all “United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad” and will last until sunset on Friday.
The White House confirmed that Obama will lead a U.S. delegation to Israel to attend Peres’ funeral this coming Friday in Jerusalem.
Dozens of other world leaders are also expected to attend the funeral, including British PM Theresa Day, French President Francois Hollande, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The Egyptian Foreign Minister is arriving to pay his respects on behalf of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Contrary to initial reports, Hillary Clinton will not be in attendance. However former president Bill Clinton will shirk campaign duties on behalf of his wife in Florida to fly to Israel on Thursday ahead of the funeral.
Obama described Peres as “the essence of Israel itself,” and added that “a light has gone” in a statement released following the news of his death.
“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. My friend Shimon was one of those people,” Obama said.
“Shimon was the essence of Israel itself — the courage of Israel’s fight for independence, the optimism he shared with his wife Sonya as they helped make the desert bloom, and the perseverance that led him to serve his nation in virtually every position in government across the entire life of the State of Israel,” he said.
Peres died early Wednesday after being hospitalized two weeks ago following a major stroke.