World Leaders attend Shimon Peres’ Memorial Service in Jerusalem
The flag-covered casket of Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Israeli president Shimon Peres was carried from the Knesset in Jerusalem Friday as world leaders attended his funeral.
President Barack Obama and President Bill Clinton were among 90 delegations from 70 countries paying their respects to Peres, who died Tuesday while hospitalized for a major stroke. He was 93.
A military honour guard escorted Peres’ casket into the ceremony at Israel’s national cemetery, Mount Herzl, while a military rabbi sang traditional funeral prayers.
Peres served as the nation’s ninth president and as prime minister, as well as in various other positions over a career that spanned six decades.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid tribute to him as “a great man of the world.”
He added: “Israel grieves for him. The world grieves for him.”
Clinton said Peres was Israel’s “biggest dreamer” and called him a “wise champion of our common humanity.”
He described a meeting where Israeli and Arab children together sang John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
Clinton said Peres “he imagined all the things the rest of us could do. He started life as Israel’s brightest student, became its best teacher and ended up its biggest dreamer.”
He added: “He lived 93 years in a state of constant wonder over the unbelievable potential of all the rest of us to rise above our wounds, our resentments, our fears to make the most of today and claim the promise of tomorrow.”
Some 6,000 mourners were attending the event, which began at about 9 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET), including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Obama’s motorcade sped from Tel Aviv along highways that were deserted aside from local police every few hundred yards.
A staunch patriot credited with building up Israel’s military, and who supported settlements in territories occupied by Israel after the 1967 war, Peres later pursued a more conciliatory path toward peace between between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
In 1994, Peres won the Nobel Peace Prize, sharing the honor with then-Israeli Prime Minister and political rival Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Peres was Israel’s foreign minister during talks between Israel and Palestinian representatives, which led to the creation of the Oslo Accords. The deal marked the first time the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization formally recognized each other and the possibility of a two-state solution.
Credits: NBC NEWS