Israeli President Reuven Rivlin mourned the late Saudi monarch, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud who passed away aged 90 early Friday morning, praising his regional policies. This despite the fact that Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have diplomatic relations.
The king “was an example of grounded, considered and responsible leadership, with a deep religious tradition,” Rivlin said in a statement Friday.
“As ‘Guardian of the Holy Places’ of Islam, King Abdullah acted as a moderator, respecting the sensitivity and sanctity of Jerusalem and sought to promote a vision of prosperity for the region. His wise policies contributed greatly to our region, and to the stability of the Middle East,” Rivlin said.
Former president Shimon Peres also hailed the late king, lamenting his passing as “a real loss for the peace of the Middle East”.
“He was an experienced leader and a wise king. He had the courage … to stand up and introduce a peace program for the Middle East,” said Peres, in reference to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.
“I’m not sure that we could have accepted all the items in the peace process but the spirit, the strength and the wisdom invested in it” led to a process that serves still as “a powerful base for making peace,” the former Israeli president told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The peace initiative put forward by Abdullah offered Israel blanket recognition from 22 Arab states in return for an independent state for the Palestinians.
Foreign leaders gathered Friday in a cavernous mosque in the Saudi Arabian capital for the funeral of the king.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the leaders of Sudan and Ethiopia joined Gulf rulers for the funeral prayer at Riyadh’s Imam Turki bin Abdullah mosque.
They prayed alongside Abdullah’s successor and half-brother, King Salman.
Television pictures showed Abdullah’s covered body borne on a simple litter carried by members of the royal family wearing traditional red-and-white checked shemagh headgear, following prayers.
Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, the National Guard minister and a son of the late king, was among the litter-bearers.
The body was quickly moved to nearby El-Ud public cemetery.
In keeping with the kingdom’s strict Muslim traditions, he was to be buried in an unmarked grave as was his predecessor King Fahd, who died in 2005.
Bahrain’s King Hamad, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, a high-level delegation from the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah were among other leaders at the funeral which followed the ailing Abdullah’s death early Friday.