World leaders honour Shimon Peres at his funeral


Dignitaries from around the world came to the Mount Herzl cemetery on Friday morning to pay their respects to Shimon Peres, the ninth President of Israel.

The crowd included royal dignitaries; the Prince of Wales and the King of Spain. It included political leaders past and present; Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy. David Cameron and Tony Blair, former British Prime Ministers, were joined by Boris Johnson, the current Foreign Secretary.

Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau of Canada, Matteo Renzi of Italy, Mark Rutte of the Netherlands were present, as were President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine and Enrique Peña Nieto, the President of Mexico.

Dignitaries from the Arab world were also present; the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Jordan's Deputy Prime Minister, and, from Ramallah, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.

Israeli media reported that even representatives from Oman and Bahrain, which have no diplomatic ties with Israel, had come to pay their respects to the nation's best-known statesman.

And both Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and Jonathan Arkush, President of the Board of Deputies, were in attendance, representing the UK's Jewish community.

Mr Clinton spoke, praising "our complicated, brilliant friend, steered by a simple, straightforward creed.

"He started off as Israel's brightest student, became its greatest teacher, and ended its biggest dreamer."

Amos Oz, Israel's greatest living writer, paid tribute to his close friend.

"Yes, Shimon occasionally stumbled, but he stumbled because his eyes were fixed on the stars", he said.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also paid tribute to the fallen leader.

"My dear Shimon, you were the only one in the history of the State of Israel to serve in the three most senior positions in government: Foreign Minister, Defence Minister, and Finance Minister", said President Rivlin.

"You are the only one to have served as Prime Minister and as President. It is no exaggeration to say that: more than you were blessed to be President of this great nation, this nation was blessed to have you as its President."

Prime Minister Netanyahu said: ""It's no secret that Shimon and me were political rivals, but over the years we became friends, even close friends."

"It makes sense that you donated your corneas", he said, referring to one of Mr Peres's last requests. "You were always looking to the future."

"Israel grieves for him, the world grieves for him, but we find hope in his legacy, as does the world."

David D'Or, one of Israel's best known singers, sang an "Avinu Malkeinu" prayer, one of Mr Peres's favourite songs and associated with the Jewish New Year period.

Mr Peres's three children, Tsvia, Yoni and Chemi, paid tearful tribute to their father.

“I bid goodbye to two people; Shimon, His Excellency, and Shimon, father and grandfather”, said his daughter Tsvia.

“He was remembered as a great negotiator; I remember him cutting our sandwiches, negotiating with us to eat our dinner.”

“Words cannot adequately describe what he did for Israel, the Jewish people and for humanity”, said President Peres’s son Chemi.

“You never forgot what it means to be a Jew. I promise you I will never forget either.”

President Obama spoke, saying that President Peres reminded him of men like Nelson Mandela and women like Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth; who have seen so much.

“He showed us that justice and hope are at the heart of the Zionist ideal”, said President Obama.

Shimon, Todah Rabba, Chaver Yakar”, President Obama ended. "Shimon, thank you, my dear friend."

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