Netanyahu, Abbas shake hands, exchange pleasantries, at Peres funeral
search
Abbas: 'Long time'; PM: We 'appreciate' that you came

Netanyahu, Abbas shake hands, exchange pleasantries, at Peres funeral

Hamas rails at PA president's attendance, while Fatah defends leader's 'message of peace'; PM doesn't mention Abbas in his speech

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands before the funeral ceremony for Shimon Peres, Jerusalem, September 30, 2016 (YouTube screenshot)
PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands before the funeral ceremony for Shimon Peres, Jerusalem, September 30, 2016 (YouTube screenshot)

After years without meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas shook hands and briefly chatted at the funeral of former president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on Friday.

The two exchanged polite greetings as world leaders gathered on Mount Herzl to pay their final respects to Israel’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning former president and prime minister.

“Long time, long time,” Abbas could be heard telling Netanyahu and his wife Sara in English. After Netanyahu shook hands with senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, the prime minister thanked the two Palestinian officials for coming to the funeral, saying “It’s something that I appreciate very much, on behalf of our people, and on behalf of us.”

In another video uploaded to YouTube, Sara Netanyahu can be overheard telling Abbas she is “so happy” he came to the funeral.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (C) sits alongside European Council President Donald Tusk (L) and Hungarian President Viktor Orban at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl national cemetery during the funeral of former Israeli president Shimon Peres on September 30, 2016. (AFP/Pool/Abir Sultan)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (C) sits alongside European Council President Donald Tusk (L) and Hungarian President Viktor Orban at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl national cemetery during the funeral of former Israeli president Shimon Peres on September 30, 2016. (AFP/Pool/Abir Sultan)

“I am looking forward to having you at our house,” she said. “Thank you for coming.”

Abbas sat in the front row at the funeral ceremony, along with other dignitaries such as US President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Britain’s Prince Charles. He was flanked by European Council President Donald Tusk and Hungarian President Viktor Orban.

President Reuven Rivlin and his wife Nechama meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during the State funeral for late former President Shimo Peres at Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem, on September 30, 2016. (Mark Neyman/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin and his wife Nechama meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during the State funeral for late former President Shimo Peres at Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem, on September 30, 2016. (Mark Neyman/GPO)

Netanyahu didn’t mention Abbas during his eulogy for the former president, who died earlier this week at the age of 93, two weeks after suffering a massive stroke. US President Barack Obama, however, did, saying Abbas’s presence was a reminder of the “unfinished business of peace.”

Abbas’s attendance was approved by Israeli authorities a day before the funeral, and he and the Palestinian delegation drove to the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem from Ramallah.

The PA president’s participation was met with criticism from his Fatah party’s rival, the Islamist terror group Hamas. The group, which rules the Gaza Strip and ousted the Fatah party in a violent coup in 2007, said that Abbas’s participation disregarded the blood of the Palestinian people.

Abbas’s Fatah party, meanwhile, defended the gesture, saying it was a “message of peace” whose aim was to show the world that the Palestinians are a peace-loving people.

While the Palestinian leader attended, Arab members of the Knesset’s Joint List said they wouldn’t participate in Peres’s funeral, with party leader Ayman Odeh saying it was because of the “complicated” relationship the former president had with the country’s Arab minority.

He said in a Hebrew tweet that “Peres’s memory in the Arab community is different from the narrative that has been spoken about over the past few days and I understand that it is difficult to hear such complicated messages in the moments after his death.”

Then-president Shimon Peres, left, meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum in Amman, Jordan on May 26, 2013. Mark Neyman/GPO/FLASH90)
Then-president Shimon Peres, left, meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum in Amman, Jordan on May 26, 2013. Mark Neyman/GPO/FLASH90)
read more:
comments