Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas paid tribute Wednesday to the late former president Shimon Peres who died earlier in the day.
Abbas hailed Peres as a “brave” partner for peace and sent his family condolences over his death, the official PA news agency Wafa reported.
“Abbas sent a message of condolence to the family of former president Shimon Peres, expressing his sadness and sorrow,” the report said.
“Peres was a partner in making the brave peace with the martyr Yasser Arafat and prime minister (Yitzhak) Rabin, and made unremitting efforts to reach a lasting peace from the Oslo agreement until the final moments of his life,” Abbas was quoted as saying.
Abbas is expected to address Fatah members on Wednesday night and reports said he would say a few words about the the late Israeli leader.
Earlier Wafa vilified Peres in an obituary, describing him as an architect of the settlement movement who was responsible for the deaths of Palestinians and committed “many crimes.” The article noted that Peres was also responsible for building the Dimona nuclear reactor.
The article made no mention of Peres’s role in the peace process or the Oslo Accords, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat.
A PLO official said he believed a Palestinian delegation may attend Peres’s funeral.
“From the Palestinian leadership’s perspective, he was a partner in the peace process,” Ashraf al-Ajrami was quoted by Army Radio as saying.
“I would advise [Mahmoud Abbas] to come to Shimon’s funeral and even to address the Knesset… At the end of the day he understood that there is no other way to achieve peace and for this reason he was a partner for the Palestinians,” he said.
But according to Israel Radio, which cites Palestinian sources, the PA leadership will not “initiate coming without an invitation from the family.”
“Even Arafat didn’t attend Rabin’s funeral,” the source said.
In the Gaza Strip, the ruling Hamas terror group expressed happiness at Peres’s death. A spokesman for the movement said, “The Palestinian people are happy at the death of this criminal.
“Shimon Peres was one of the last Israeli founders of occupation. His death marks the end of an era in the history of the Israeli occupation,” Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP. “His death is the end of a phase in the history of this occupation and the beginning of a new phase of weakness.”
In a contradictory statement, Army Radio cited Hamas media as praising Peres’s willingness to cede territory for peace.
“Although he was one of the builders of the settlements, he became one of the prominent advocates of peace and spoke frequently about the need for concessions,” they said.