by Compiled from Wire Services
Oct 01, 2016 12:00 am
As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shook hands on Friday at the funeral of former Israeli Prime Minister President Shimon Peres, the Gaza-based Palestinian resistance movement Hamas slammed Abbas' decision to attend the event.
"Abbas' participation at Peres' funeral makes a mockery of the bloody sacrifices made by the Palestinian people," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Anadolu Agency on Thursday. Abbas was accompanied by a delegation of senior Palestinian officials, including Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat and Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh.
Peres' funeral ceremony was held in the "Great Leaders of the Nation" section of Mount Herzl cemetery. Turkey's undersecretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioğlu was among the leaders who attended the funeral of Peres, who passed away early Wednesday at the age of 93, two weeks after suffering a stroke.
Abbas was given a front-row seat between European Council President Donald Tusk and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. U.S. President Barack Obama thanked Abbas for attending the funeral. Obama said in the eulogy that Abbas's "presence here is a gesture and a reminder of the unfinished business of peace." He was the only speaker to acknowledge Abbas's presence.
However, there was no indication that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's rare visit to Jerusalem and the amiable words he and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exchanged would lead to any movement in the long-stalled peacemaking.
With divisions deep over Jewish settlement in Israeli-occupied territory that Palestinians seek for a state, as well as other issues, U.S.-sponsored negotiations on a final agreement between the two sides have been frozen since 2014.
Netanyahu and Abbas have not held face-to-face talks since 2010. Abbas opted to attend Peres's funeral, making the short drive from nearby Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, through Israeli military checkpoints.
"Long time, long time," Abbas told Netanyahu and the prime minister's wife Sara, after shaking his hand before the start of the ceremony. Welcoming Abbas, as participants recorded the encounter on their mobile phones, Netanyahu said of the Palestinian leader's attendance: "It's something that I appreciate very much on behalf of our people and on behalf of us."
Shimon Peres received the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize along with late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for his role in peace talks that later yielded the Oslo Accords.
Peres has been accused of committing egregious rights violations, however, including the shelling of the southern Lebanese village of Qana in 1996 - when he was Israel's prime minister - in which 106 Lebanese civilians were killed.