Israel's Former President Shimon Peres Buried in Jerusalem
- Author: Sonia Alvarado Oct 02, 2016,
Oct 02, 2016, 10:20
Long-hailed overseas and by supporters in Israel as a visionary, Peres was seen by his critics as an overly optimistic dreamer in the harsh realities of the Middle East.
President Barack Obama, who was seated next to Netanyahu at the funeral, mentioned Abbas in his speech, saying that the Palestinian president's "presence here is a gesture and a reminder of the unfinished business of peace".
Mr. Peres, who served as prime minister, president and foreign minister during a political career that spanned seven decades, died early Wednesday at the age of 93 from complications of a stroke. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, along with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, for the trio's peace talks that eventually led to the Oslo Accords.
"It is that faith, that optimism, that belief, even when all the evidence is to the contrary, that tomorrow can be better that makes us not just honour Shimon Peres, but love him", he said.
Former President Bill Clinton kept President Obama waiting on the tarmac Friday morning while Air Force One was trying to take off from Israel.
In turn, Peres bestowed the Medal of Distinction on Obama, making him the first sitting USA president to receive Israel's highest civilian honor. "It is an honor to join with the President in attending President Peres' funeral service to pay respects and offer condolences on behalf of the First Congressional District of NY and the United States".
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Netanyahu recalled in his eulogy that he had once argued with Peres, a former leader of the center-left Labour Party, about what was more important for Israel - peace or security. "I think both of us understood that we were here only because in some way we reflected the magnificent story of our nations".
He held almost every major Israeli political post during his long career, including prime minister twice, the presidency, defense minister and foreign minister. "As a man of security, he fortified Israel's strength in many ways, some of which even today is still unknown".
Netanyahu, in his eulogy, mentioned the funeral of his brother, Yoni, where he and Peres met for the first time.
He is to depart for Israel Thursday and return after the ceremony on Friday. Representatives from Egypt and Jordan also were present.
There have been very few tributes from Arab nations, though Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is due to attend the funeral. A US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014 and peace efforts have been comatose since then. French President Francois Hollande, Britain's Prince Charles, German President Joachim Gauck and scores of other world leaders also attended the funeral.
He was also an architect of Israel's nuclear programme, with the country now considered the Middle East's sole nuclear-armed nation, though it has never declared it.