Friday, September 30, 2016

World Leaders Gather to Mourn Shimon Peres, and Possibly His Dream

JERUSALEM — From across the ocean and across the Green Line, they came on Friday to the mountaintop sanctuary of Mount Herzl to bid farewell to Shimon Peres, marking what one called the “end of the era of giants.” But the question of the moment was whether it was a funeral for a man or for his dream.

Twenty-three years after Mr. Peres helped negotiate the Oslo Accordsheralding peace between Israelis and Palestinians, President Obamaand other leaders from around the world paid homage to his tenacious search for reconciliation. And yet the memorial service made clear how elusive that idea has actually become in this part of the world.

In his eulogy, Mr. Netanyahu welcomed by name many of the foreign figures in attendance without mentioning Mr. Abbas. It was left to Mr. Obama to acknowledge the Palestinian leader, saying that his “presence here is a gesture and a reminder of the unfinished business of peace.”

Mr. Obama, who has been pressing the two sides to rejuvenate a peace process, made a similar point less directly. “Shimon never saw his dream of peace fulfilled,” he said. And so, he added, “Now this work is in the hands of Israel’s next generation, in the hands of Israel’s next generation and its friends.”

The funeral drew delegations from 75 countries and such figures as former President Bill Clinton, President François Hollande of France, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and King Felipe VI of Spain.

About 4,000 mourners gathered underneath a tent on a warm, cloudless day at the national cemetery overlooking Jerusalem. Security was tight.

Mr. Peres, who died this week at 93, embodied the history of the Israeli state. A protégé of David Ben-Gurion, the founding prime minister, he had a role in most of Israel’s major events from its independence in 1948. He served as prime minister, foreign minister, defense minister and president.

A longtime security hawk, he helped build the nation’s military and was instrumental in developing its nuclear program. Critics, especially Palestinians, castigate him for promoting the construction of settlements in territories seized in the Arab-Israeli war of 1967 and for launching military operations that led to civilian deaths.

He was remembered on Friday mainly for his pursuit of peace, which resulted in the Nobel Peace Prize he shared in 1994 with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Mr. Obama, who flew overnight to attend the funeral and finished writing his eulogy only as Air Force One landed, offered an especially personal tribute to Mr. Peres. This was only the second time in nearly eight years in office that he had traveled overseas for the funeral of a foreign leader, after Nelson Mandela, and indeed, he compared Mr. Peres to the South African leader.

As for Mr. Peres, for a man who made a legacy of bridging divides, there was one final act of reconciliation: He was buried between two onetime rivals, Mr. Rabin and another former prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir. - Read More, nytimes

World Leaders Gather to Mourn Shimon Peres, and Possibly His Dream

At Shimon Peres Funeral, a Lineup of U.S. and Israeli Leaders Who Tangled


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