Israel on Wednesday mourned the death of Shimon Peres, a former president and prime minister whose life story mirrored that of the Jewish state, as the government began preparations for a funeral that is expected to bring together world leaders and dignitaries.
CCTV America’s Stephanie Freid reports.
Preparations begin for Shimon Peres' funeralIsrael on Wednesday mourned the death of Shimon Peres, a former president and prime minister whose life story mirrored that of the Jewish state, as the government began preparations for his funeral.
Peres, celebrated around the world as a Nobel Prize-winning visionary who pushed his country toward peace during a seven-decade career, died early Wednesday from complications from a stroke. He was 93.
News of his death was met with an outpouring of tributes from around the world.
“There are few people who we share this world with, who change the course of human history, not just through their role in human events, but because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect more of ourselves. My friend Shimon was one of those people,” said U.S. President Barack Obama.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair hailed Peres’ spirit.
“Above all, his commitment to peace and his belief that it was in the interests of the country he adored marked him out as a visionary,” Blair said.
Tributes also came from the director-general of Israel’s military, the Mossad spy agency and from political leaders across the globe, including Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau. Queen Elizabeth II sent her condolences, and said she was “greatly saddened” to learn of his death.
Also offering condolences was Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who described Peres as a partner in the “peace of the brave” with late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
However while Western leaders lionized Peres, for many in the Arab world, he was a polarizing figure.
Many Palestinians appreciated his stated commitment to peace but also held him responsible for a deadly artillery strike that killed civilians in Lebanon while he was prime minister in 1996. Peres, like other Israeli leaders, also allowed settlement construction to take place during his years in leadership positions.
The Middle East Monitor said Peres “epitomised the disparity between Israel’s image in the West and the reality of its bloody, colonial policies in Palestine and the wider region.”
The Monitor said that as a young man, Peres jointed the Haganah, the military “primarily responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villages in 1947-49, during the Nakba.” (Nakba is the Arabic word for catastrophe used to describe the expelling of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homes during the 1948 Palestinian war.)
The Monitor also cited the strike in Lebanon known as “Operation Grapes of Wrath” that Peres ordered saying it killed 154 civilians.
Officials said Peres’ body would lie in state at the Knesset, or parliament, on Thursday to allow the public to pay final respects.
On Friday morning, the casket will be taken from the Knesset to Mount Herzl, the country’s national cemetery, in Jerusalem, the government said. The ceremony will include eulogies and a procession to the cemetery’s VIP section for burial alongside most of the country’s past leaders.
Story by the Associated Press with information from the Middle East Monitor.
World leaders, politicians mourn passing of Shimon Peres
Despite mixed views of Peres’ impact on Palestine, many still saw him as a bridge between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who also sent his condolences, called Peres the founder of the peace process. He also praised Peres for the “positive contributions” he made to the development of ties between China and Israel.
CCTV America’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.
World leaders, politicians mourn passing of Shimon PeresDespite mixed views of Peres' impact on Palestine, many still saw him as a bridge between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Matt Duss discusses legacy of the former Israeli President
To take a look at the legacy of the former Israeli President Shimon Peres, CCTV America’s Elaine Reyes spoke with Matt Duss, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace.