Israelis Pay Respects to Peres 09/29 06:25
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Hundreds of Israelis, among them Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, have paid their respects to Israel's
ninth President Shimon Peres as his body lay in state at the country's
parliament on Thursday.
Peres died Wednesday from complications following a stroke. He was 93.
Scores of world leaders are expected to attend Peres' state funeral in
Jerusalem on Friday, including President Barack Obama, former President Bill
Clinton and French President Francois Hollande. It is expected to be the
largest such gathering in Israel since the funeral of Prime Minister Yitzhak
Rabin, who was assassinated by a Jewish nationalist in 1995.
More than 60 private planes are expected to arrive ahead of the ceremony.
Clinton landed in Israel Thursday morning. He arrived on the private jet of
Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban, according to a spokesman for the
Israel Airports Authority. Saban is a major donor to the Democratic party and
to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
Peres' office said Thursday Clinton will go directly to Israel's parliament,
where Israelis were lining up at Peres' casket, which is draped in an Israeli
flag. Earlier Thursday, Netanyahu and Rivlin laid wreaths beside the casket.
Clinton was president when Peres helped negotiate a historic interim peace
agreement with the Palestinians in 1993. The following year, Peres shared the
Nobel Peace Prize with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian
leader Yasser Arafat.
Bill and Hillary Clinton have said they lost "a true and treasured friend"
Noticeably absent from the funeral will be Arab leaders.
Peres has been hailed among western leaders as a man of peace, but Arab
leaders have greeted his death mostly with silence.
The hostility is colored by Peres's role in building his country's defense
arsenal, supporting Israeli settlements in the West Bank and waging war in
Still, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has lauded Peres for reaching a
"peace of the brave" with Arafat and Rabin.
An adviser to Morocco's king will attend Peres' funeral, according to
Israel's foreign ministry.
Over Peres' seven-decade political career, he transformed from a hawk to a
Nobel Prize-winning advocate of reconciliation with the Palestinians. As
Israel's president, he cultivated admiration at home and abroad for his