World leaders mourn as Shimon Peres laid to rest
Former Israeli President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres was on Friday laid to rest here in a funeral attended by world leaders, including US President Barack Obama who hailed him as a “giant of 20th century”.
Peres, who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 93, served as two-time Prime Minister, minister of defence, foreign affairs, finance and transportation; and until 2014, as President of the country and did more than anyone to build Israel’s formidable military might and its nuclear programme.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Peres as a “great man of the world”.
“He soared to incredible heights. He was a great man of Israel; he was a great man of the world.
Israel grieves for him, the world grieves for him, but we find hope in his legacy, as does the world,” Netanyahu told mourners at Mount Herzl national cemetery, where Peres was buried alongside other prominent leaders of the Jewish state.
In what is the largest gathering of foreign dignitaries in the history of Israel, US President Obama, French President Francois Hollande, German President Joachim Gauck and scores of other world leaders attended the funeral amid tight security.
Obama, who awarded Peres the presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, was one of the speakers at the ceremony. He arrived in Israel in the morning. He wore a black Jewish skullcap as he took his seat at the ceremony.
“In many ways, he reminded me of some other giants of the 20th century that I’ve had the honour to meet,” Obama told mourners, as he compared Peres to Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was also among attendees. He was seated in the front row at the request of Peres’s family.
Abbas, who is on his first visit to Israel since September 2010 when peace talks broke down, shook hands and spoke briefly with Netanyahu upon arrival. Abbas, who signed the Oslo accords along with Peres, has called him a “brave” partner for peace.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Jordanian Prime Minister Jawad Anani were also in attendance.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II yesterday sent a condolence letter to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in which he highlighted Peres’ efforts to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians as part of a two-state solution.
Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab countries to have signed peace treaties with Israel.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin credited Peres with ensuring the State of Israel “as an indisputable fact”.
Javadekar hails Peres as real friend of India
Shimon Peres was a “visionary statesman” and a “great friend of India”, HRD minister Prakash Javadekar said on Friday as a high-level Indian delegation paid tributes to former Israeli President who was laid to rest in the presence of leaders from over 70 countries.
“Peres was a visionary statesman. A leader who was a great friend of India. He defended Israel like a hero from adversaries and at the same time reached out to them to have peace and largely succeeded in it,” Javadekar said.
Javadekar also met all the three children of Peres – Zvia, Yoni and Chemi, to convey condolences on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the people
of India. Agencies