Trib­utes to Peres on first an­niver­sary

The Herald (South Africa) - - WORLD -

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.

Pic­ture: AFP

PAY­ING RE­SPECTS: A rel­a­tive of late Is­raeli leader Shi­mon Peres with her baby dur­ing yes­ter­day’s cer­e­mony

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