Mourners pay respects to Peres, Clinton arrives
Former US President Bill Clinton (centre) accompanied by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (left) and Yuli Edelstein, the Speaker of the Knesset, pays his final respects at the coffin of former Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Knesset plaza in Jerusalem, yesterday. JERUSALEM (AP): FORMER US President Bill Clinton joined thousands of Israeli mourners yesterday who paid their respects to the late Shimon Peres outside Israel’s parliament in Jerusalem, as the country somberly remembered the Nobel-winning politician who helped lead Israel during a remarkable sevendecade career.
Clinton is among the dozens of current and former world leaders, including President Barack Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, expected to gather in Jerusalem on Friday for Peres’ funeral. The former Israeli president and prime minister died on Wednesday, two weeks after suffering a stroke, at the age of 93.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II sent his condolences to Israel over the passing of Peres. A senior Jordanian minister, Jawad Anani, will represent Amman at the funeral.
The King wrote in a telegram to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday that Peres’ “contributions towars achieving peace and security in the region are more relevant than ever before”.
The king said that “it is vital that the voices of reason prevail and the advocates of peace continue to lead the way”.
Israel and neighbouring Jordan signed a peace deal in 1994.
A senior Palestinian official said that Abbas had decided Thursday to attend the funeral, and will come to the event with a small delegation of top aides, including his chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and his security chief Majid Faraj.
In contrast to an outpouring of grief from Western leaders, Arab leaders have remained largely silent over Peres’ death.
Abbas was the only Arab leader to express sorrow over Peres’ death on Wednesday. In attending the funeral, Abbas wanted to “send a strong message to Israeli society that the Palestinians are for peace and appreciate the efforts of peaceful men like Shimon Peres,” the senior official said.