Tributes to Peres on first anniversary
FRIENDS, including Tony Blair, joined with old political rivals yesterday in saluting Israel’s Nobel laureate Shimon Peres and his dream of peace on the first anniversary of his death.
In a state ceremony at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl national cemetery, President Reuven Rivlin paid a warm tribute, along with British former premier and Middle East peace envoy Blair.
“It’s sad without you, even for those who didn’t always agree with you,” Rivlin, a former legislator in the right-wing Likud party, said.
He lost to Peres in the 2007 presidential race but won the post in 2014.
Peres, a Labour party stalwart, served twice as prime minister and held senior cabinet posts during a public career spanning 70 years, predating Israeli statehood.
He shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for his role in negotiating the Oslo peace accords, which envisioned an independent Palestinian state.
But attempts to resolve the dispute have been at a standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in 2014.
“The dream of peace which you wove is still far, far off,” Rivlin said yesterday, addressing his remarks to “My dear Shimon”.
“You taught us that the world, including our neighbourhood, can be a friend, not just a predator,” he said. Peres died aged 93 on September 28 last year. The anniversary, according to the Hebrew calendar, is tomorrow.
Blair, who became envoy of the Middle East Quartet of peacemakers after leaving the British prime minister’s office in 2007, said Peres always stayed true to his vision.
“He never gave up on peace with the Palestinians or on his belief that peace was best secured by an independent state of Palestine alongside a recognised state of Israel,” he said.
Peres’s biography, No Room for Small Dreams: Courage, Imagination and the Making of Modern Israel, was published in English on Tuesday.
PAYING RESPECTS: A relative of late Israeli leader Shimon Peres with her baby during yesterday’s ceremony