President Obama will attend the funeral of Shimon Peres, the former Israeli president and driving force behind the Oslo peace accords of the 1990s, on Friday in Israel, White House officials said Wednesday.
Obama "will lead the U.S. delegation to Jerusalem to participate in the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement.
The president will depart Thursday for Jerusalem and return Friday after the ceremony, Earnest said.
Peres, 93, died early Wednesday in Tel Aviv from complications related to a stroke he suffered two weeks ago. The visit will be Obama's second to Israel as president. He has had a stormy relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, breaking with the Israeli leader over the administration's nuclear agreement with Iran and over Israeli settlements in territory claimed by the Palestinians.
But Obama and Peres had maintained a warm bond. In 2012, Obama presented Peres with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a rare honor for a non-U.S. citizen. "The man, the life that we honor tonight is nothing short of extraordinary," Obama said at the ceremony.
In a statement on Peres's death, Obama praised the Israeli statesman as one of the few people in the world who helped to "change the course of human history."
"I will always be grateful that I was able to call Shimon my friend," Obama said. "A light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever."