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Shimon no more, world leaders gather for funeral

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Police shut roads in central Jerusalem as former Israeli president, who died at 93, is laid to rest.

Israelis, along with several world leaders, gathered in Jerusalem on Friday for the funeral of former President Shimon Peres.

US President Barack Obama, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, French President Francois Hollande, German President Joachim Gauck and other world leaders are among those attending.

Speaking at the ceremony, Obama said: “I could not be more honoured to be in Jerusalem to say farewell to my friend Shimon Peres, who showed us that justice and hope are at the heart of the zionist idea.”

shimon

The US leader, who wore the traditional Jewish kippah cap, said that the attendance of Abbas was a gesture “and reminder of the unfinished business of peace”.

OPINION: Drop the farcical obits, Shimon Peres was no peacemaker

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, said of the tributes for Peres: “We need to separate between fact and fiction. A lot of things being said today are fiction, or selective. The facts are … illegal settlements that he said should be mushrooming everywhere went up by 50 percent after he signed a deal with the Palestinians.”

Bishara added: “Palestinian leaders – after 25 years of peace process – are allowed to enter Jerusalem, only when an Israeli dies.

“President Abbas, for the last 20 years, has not been allowed to enter the future capital of the Palestinian state, where some 250,000 Palestinians live – in Jerusalem. The only time he is allowed is when an Israeli dies and he has to pay his final respects. He needs to get a permit from the Israelis in order to do that. Who instituted that permit? Peres.”

The United States delegation includes former President Bill Clinton, who also spoke, Secretary of State John Kerry, about 20 members of Congress and several administration officials.

Police closed roads in central Jerusalem beofre the funeral. It is expected to be Israel’s largest since that of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was killed by a Jewish nationalist in 1995.

Peres died early on Wednesday, two weeks after suffering a stroke. He was 93.

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