The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has indicated he plans to attend the funeral of the former Israeli president and prime minister Shimon Peres on Friday, despite the strong opposition of some in his Fatah movement.
Peres died on Wednesday at the age of 93 after suffering a stroke two weeks ago. He is due to be buried in Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl cemetery in a ceremony that will be attended by 80 world leaders.
Abbas’s attendance at the funeral – joining the likes of Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Prince Charles and François Hollande – would be his first visit to Jerusalem since 2010.
Peres won worldwide praise for his efforts in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in the 1990s. But, with negotiations frozen since 2014, it had been unclear whether Abbas would travel to Jerusalem from nearby Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank.
Despite reports in the Israeli media and comments by some Palestinian officials apparently confirming his intention to attend, other officials said no decision had been made.
News of Abbas’s desire to attend emerged after his office approached an Israeli military coordinating unit, and it was reported that the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had approved the delegation’s attendance.
Peres jointly won the Nobel peace prize with the assassinated Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for the Oslo accords, but many Palestinians regard him with strong hostility. In contrast, Abbas hailed him as a brave partner for peace in a letter of condolence to Peres’s family.
Palestinian officials said Abbas planned to attend because he wanted to “send a strong message to Israeli society that the Palestinians are for peace, and appreciate the efforts of peaceful men like Shimon Peres.”
Abbas last visited Jerusalem on 15 September 2010, when he held talks with Netanyahu at the prime minister’s residence.
Abbas and Netanyahu last met in November 2015, and have agreed in principle to a summit in Moscow at the invitation of Vladimir Putin. But there have been no practical moves towards scheduling such a meeting, with both sides deeply divided over the issue of Jewish settlements on occupied land that Palestinians seek for an independent state.
Thousands of Israelis have been visiting the Knesset, the country’s parliament, to view Peres’s coffin which is lying in state.
Clinton, the former US president, also visited and stood, head bowed, in front of the casket.
[Source:- The Gurdian]