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World leaders gather in Jerusalem for Peres' funeral

Peres' legacy remains contentious [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 September, 2016

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A long list of world leaders will attend former Israeli leader Shimon Peres' funeral on Friday, however, Palestinians will not be mourning.

A long list of world leaders will attend the funeral of former Israeli leader Shimon Peres on Friday following the death of the statesman on Wednesday, a week after he suffered a stroke.

Figures including US President Barack Obama, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto are all set to attend the funeral.

The ceremony will take place on Friday at Mount Herzel Cemetery in Jerusalem. Former US President Bill Clinton is also set to attend the funeral.

In 1994 Peres - one of the last remaining politicians present at the birth of the Israeli state in 1984 - shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for their roles in negotiating the Oslo peace accords.

In the United States, on Wednesday, President Obama ordered that all US flags on federal property be hung at half-mast.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement, on Wednesday, that Peres had been a "partner in creating peace" and "made intensive efforts to reach a long-lasting peace since the Oslo agreement and until the last breath".

Peres was the last remaining Israeli official who founded the occupation, and his death is the end of a phase in the history of this occupation and the beginning of a new phase of weakness.
- Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman

However, it remains unclear whether Abbas will attend the funeral. On Thursday Haaretz reported that the Palestinian leader had sent a request to Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of Israeli government activities in the occupied territories, asking to attend.

A former advocate of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, in his later years Peres developed a reputation as a dove within the hawkish field of Israeli politics advocating for compromise over territorial demands in Palestinian areas.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in a recorded message on Wednesday that Peres "had devoted his life to our nation (Israel) and to the pursuit of peace".

Peres' coffin arrived at the Knesset parliament building in Jerusalem on Thursday morning where it is set to lie throughout the day. Thousands of mourners are set to visit the Knesset to pay their respects.

However many Palestinians and others across the Middle East will not mourn Peres' death. 

A spokesman for the Palestinian group Hamas, Sami Abu Zuhri, told AP that "the Palestinian people are very happy at the passing of this criminal".

"Peres was the last remaining Israeli official who founded the occupation, and his death is the end of a phase in the history of this occupation and the beginning of a new phase of weakness," said Abu Zuhri.

In Lebanon - technically at war with Israel and where Peres’ is remembered for his role in the 1996 Qana massacre - the Hizballah-affiliated television network al-Manar described the former Nobel Peace Prize winner as a criminal stating that he "will be forgotten since the world is better off without criminals".

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