World leaders gather in Israel for Shimon Peres funeral – USA TODAY
Former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres dedicated his life to his country and pursuing peace. The 93-year-old died two weeks after suffering a stroke.
USA TODAY NETWORK
JERUSALEM âÂ Dignitaries from 80 nations, including President Obama, gatheredÂ Friday for theÂ funeral ofÂ former Israeli President Shimon Peres under extremely tight security.
Also paying last respects to PeresÂ will be former president Bill ClintonÂ and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud AbbasÂ at the Har Herzl national cemetery,Â where many of Israelâs former leaders are buried.
Peres will be buried between formerÂ prime ministersÂ Yitzhak ShamirÂ andÂ Yitzhak Rabin, with whom he shared aÂ Nobel Peace Prize.
The cemetery overlooks Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial and museum.
Obama and Clinton are expected to speak during the ceremony,Â as requested by the Peres family,Â reflecting the warm ties he had with the U.S. presidents.
An estimated 50,000 peopleÂ paid their respects Thursday toÂ Peres, who had a 55-year political career,Â as his body lay in state at the nation’s parliament. Considered the last of Israelâs founding fathers,Â Peres died Wednesday after suffering a stroke two weeks ago. He was 93.
His transformation from political hawk to peace-seeker earned him a 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for the negotiations leading to the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Peace Accords.
At least 7,500 police and paramilitary police have been deployed for the two-day memorial that began Thursday.
Israel Police Chief Roni Alsheich said police had arrested several Jewish and Arab extremists who, they believed, might pose a threat to the visiting dignitaries. He called the arrests âpreventative.â
Alsheich said the security logistics of transporting dignitaries and the funeral âare very complex and in many ways unprecedented, compared to what the police have accomplished in the past. It’s a huge challenge inÂ regards to security, traffic, public order.”
For security, much of Jerusalem will be closed to traffic Friday,Â the day Jewish IsraelisÂ prepare for the Sabbath that begins at sundown.Â Several schools around the city decided not to open.