Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa’s Thursday tweet, “Rest in peace President Shimon Peres, a man of war and a man of the still elusive peace in the Middle East,” has received a barrage of hostile reactions from across the Arab world, some of them accompanied by pictures of dead civilians killed in 1996 by an IDF operation in Lebanon ordered by Peres on the eve of the elections, which some argued was done to promote his image as a tough leader.
Rest in Peace President Shimon Peres , a Man of War and a Man of the still elusive Peace in the Middle East — خالد بن احمد (@khalidalkhalifa) September 29, 2016
A spokesman for the Islamic Jihad in Gaza said the attempts to paint Peres as a man of peace will not wash his hands of his war crimes against the Arab nations, especially “the Palestinian, Lebanese and Egyptian nations.” He didn’t include Syria or Jordan, so maybe Peres gets a pass there.
Bassam Al-Salhi is a General Secretary of the Palestinian People’s Party and elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, who in 2005 received 2.67% of the vote for President of the PA, said that “Peres was one of the most dangerous politicians who used diplomacy to cover up Israel’s policies of occupation and settlement.”
A spokesman for Hamas in Gaza said that “Peres’ hands are awash in the Arab blood of the village of Kana village (in Lebanon), and he left this world before he could be tried for his crimes against humanity.”
Another Hamas spokesman told Ma’an, “Shimon Peres was the last remaining Israeli official who founded the occupation, and his death is the end of a phase in the history of this occupation and the beginning of a new phase of weakness.”
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas lauded Peres for reaching a “peace of the brave” with the late Yasser Arafat and the late Yitzhak Rabin (it was rumored that Peres got a long better with the former than with the latter).
The Peres Center for Peace facing the sea. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)
Finally, Haggai Matar, writing for the vehemently anti-Israel website 972, depicted with a rare power of observation notions harbored, not surprisingly, by the left and the right in Israel regarding Shimon Peres’ renowned legacy, The Peres Center. The center, he writes, “aptly sums up the legacy of the Nobel laureate, former prime minister and president. The Center, which itself has become a forum of extravagance for the wealthy, was built in one of the poorest areas of Jaffa’s Ajami neighborhood. It overlooks the sea, but has its back to Jaffa and its ‘Palestinian’ (our quotes) residents. Behind the decadent palace of peace, just across the poorly paved road, are impoverished and crumbling tenement blocs. In three directions the Center resembles a fortified monstrosity; only on one side, the one facing the sea, a telling westward gaze, is its glass facade magical and inviting. It is, perhaps, the perfect metaphor for Shimon Peres’s legacy.”
Of course, rightwing Jewish pundits the world over are holding themselves back with rare powers of restraint, until after the Friday funeral, and possibly after Yom Kippur (the religious among us, anyway). So, for now, it’s nice to discover a sane evaluation of the man by a lefty…
Following are preliminary details regarding coverage for the funeral of Israel’s ninth president, Shimon Peres.
From 7:30 AM – 9:00 AM on Friday, Highway 1 will be shut down in both directions.
From 12:30 PM – 2:00 P:M on Friday, Highway 1 will be shut down in both directions.
Roads leading to Highway 1 will be closed. Expect heavy traffic on roads 6, 431, 38, and 443 during those hours.
The police ask that drivers try to avoid these roads today and tomorrow.
Live broadcasts on all media (television, radio and Internet) will be provided from three locations: Ben-Gurion International Airport during the arrival of the delegations, the Knesset on Thursday, the laying of wreaths by heads of state, and on Mt. Herzl Friday, from 9 AM – 1 AM to cover the eulogies and the funeral ceremony. The live broadcasts will be available on the GPO website and Facebook page.
Roads around the Knesset will be closed starting Thursday; the roads around Mt. Herzl are due to be closed from Friday morning until the conclusion of the funeral.
The public will be able to pay their respects before the coffin at the Knesset on Thursday from 9 Am – 9 PM (or as necessary).
Street closings and transportation to the Knesset
From 8 AM Thursday, all routes leading to the Knesset plaza will be closed to traffic: Eliezer Kaplan Street, Yoel Zusman Street and Road #16 which encompasses the Knesset. These routes will be closed until after the funeral procession has left for Mt. Herzl on Friday.
Members of the public who wish to pay their respects before the coffin are requested to use the free parking lots from which they will be able to travel to the Knesset via shuttles. Parking lots in Jerusalem: Railway Station, Teddy Station, Ammunition Hill and Ein Yael-Jerusalem Zoo. Parking lots outside Jerusalem: Latrun and Modi’in Park & Ride.
Mt. Herzl area street closings
From 7 AM Friday, all routes leading to Mt. Herzl will be closed to traffic: Derech Mordechai Ish Shalom, Yehoshua Farbstein Street, Herzl Boulevard from Chords Bridge junction to Holland Square, Shmuel Beyth Street in the direction toward Mt. Herzl, Bayit Vagan Street and HaZikaron Street. Streets from the hotels to Mt. Herzl: Gershon Agron Street, Ramban Street, Hecht, Herzl.
Vehicles parked on these routes will be towed.
The roads will be opened following the conclusion of the funeral and the dispersal of those in attendance.
The schedule for the Mt. Herzl funeral on Friday
9:30 – 11 AM – Eulogies at Herzl’s Tomb Plaza
11 AM – 12 PM – Moving of the coffin, Peres family and VIPs to the graveside, Great Leaders of the Nation section.
PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Special Cabinet Meeting
“This is the first day in the State of Israel without the late Shimon Peres. Shimon Peres was among our greatest leaders, who left behind him a long trail of unique achievements. On behalf of the entire Jewish People, the citizens of Israel and the Government of Israel, I convey deep condolences to Shimon’s family.
Shimon Peres lived a life rich in deeds, which symbolize the history of a revived Israel – the life of an ancient people that marches, revived, on its land, the power of our people to defend itself, and is building up its homeland with sweat and courage.
When Shimon, as a youth, went to the Ben Shemen agricultural school, he wrote: ‘The goal of my life is to serve my people.’ He realized this goal. He believed with all his heart in the goals of Zionism and was a man of inspiring vision. Shimon accompanied the state since before its birth, stood by the cradle, and made sure that it could stand on strong legs. He was at the side of David Ben-Gurion during fateful decisions, at a time when the young Israel was fragile and its military strength had yet to be realized. Shimon greatly contributed to the building up of our strength. He made a unique contribution to the strengthening of our security both openly and in areas that are best left unspoken.
One of the summits of his life was the successful operation to free those of our people who had been hijacked to Entebbe. As Defense Minister in the government of Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon played a crucial role in the decision to dispatch our planes and commandos into the heart of Africa. But alongside this, alongside all of his work on behalf of the security of Israel, Shimon Peres never stopped striving for peace and believing in peace. His hand was always extended toward historic reconciliation with our neighbors. Even if this reconciliation tarried, he taught us not to give in to despair but to cling to the hope and to continue working.
Shimon Peres was an MK for almost 50 years. He served as a minister in various governments in many and varied portfolios. He twice led our country as Prime Minister. He opened our international links, contributed to stabilizing the economy and worked greatly on behalf of immigration from the USSR and Ethiopia.
We all know that political life was not always kind to Shimon. Alongside his achievements, he also knew disappointment, he also knew difficult moments, he also knew pointed criticism. But through his great strength of will Shimon continued to move forward, imbued with the aspiration to advance the development of the country that he loved so much, and imbued with the aspiration to bring peace.
There were many things that we agreed on and the number of these grew over the years. But we also had our disagreements, which are a natural part of democratic life. Even in these instances, the respect that I felt for Shimon was never impaired. On the contrary, as time passed our relations became closer. I esteemed him. I loved him. During his tenure as President, we had many personal meetings, often lasting deep into the night. These were fascinating, in-depth meetings in which I learned to recognize the man, to recognize his life’s story and to listen to his thoughts.
Only two months ago I came with my wife to launch the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation. We shared a common vision – a vision of progress and technology. Shimon saw the presence of Israel at the forefront of scientific and technological progress, and rightly so, as a key to human welfare, the key to peace. At that meeting I was stirred by his curiosity, his ability to mobilize a vision of the future world. After the ceremony, we sat for a long time. We arranged to meet again, to continue to promote the common vision of technology and innovation – and yes, also peace.
Unfortunately, this meeting will not take place. The prayer which I made on behalf of all citizens of Israel from the podium of the United Nations, the prayer that I offered for his recovery did not materialize. But our consolation is that so many things in the life of Shimon did come true. And the seven years of Shimon Peres’ presidency were a rejuvenation. He won the public’s bipartisan, cross-sector admiration. Love of the people was forthcoming and warmed his heart.
Shimon was a man of vision, he was a man of peace, he was also a man of letters, and without these two elements there can be no national revival. For all these reasons Shimon won worldwide international recognition. Heads of state sought him out and honored him. Many of them, along with us, will accompany him on his last journey to eternal rest in the soil of Jerusalem. Shimon’s work will yet remain with us for many generations. He will be enshrined in my heart always and etched in our hearts forever.
May his memory be blessed.”
President Reuven Rilvin
“This is a sad morning for all of us. There is not a chapter in the history of the State of Israel in which Shimon did not write or play a part. A man who was a symbol for the great spirit of this people. Shimon made us look far into the future. As one man he carried a whole nation on the wings of imagination, on the wings of vision, and we loved him dearly. We loved him even when we did not see things eye to eye, because he made us dare to imagine not what was once here, nor what is now, but what could be.”
Minister Miri Regev
“We are officially convening the ministerial Committee on Symbols and ceremonies, which today mourns the passing of former President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres. We are preparing for a very large and complex funeral that will coordinate very many elements. Here today is the Director General of the Foreign Ministry and the Jerusalem District Police commander, as well as representatives from the Defense Ministry, Knesset, and the Prime Minister’s Bureau, among others. We are, in effect, working to coordinate the entire effort.
I would like to thank Minister Ofir Akunis and Minister Sofa Landver, who are present as members of the committee. We will work under the ‘Havatzelet’ protocol to facilitate a respectable funeral that will allow the citizens of the country and the world leaders who will arrive to pay proper respect to former President Peres. Therefore, as soon as the committee votes on its decisions, everyone will go to work in his area and we will meet from time to time on a more reduced basis to oversee coordination.
There will be several centers: The airport, to which the leaders will arrive. The second center is the Knesset. The third is Mt. Herzl, including the interment itself. There are many elements here that we will need to coordinate so that everything goes smoothly and respectably, despite all the constraints we are under and the complexity of the event. There is also, of course, Shabbat that we must take into account and see that we finish on time so that all of the police and other elements working on the event can return home in time for Shabbat.”
“Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, mourns the passing of the ninth President of Israel, Shimon Peres and offers its sincerest condolences to his family and all of the people of Israel.
Former President Peres was a dedicated supporter of teaching the legacy of the Shoah, so that the Jewish people – and all humanity – may have a brighter future. Shimon Peres worked tirelessly to further the causes of justice and peace for all humankind.”
Israel Atomic Energy Commission
“Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) Director Ze’ev Senir and the commission’s employees and retirees mourn the passing of former President, Prime Minister and Defense Minister Shimon Peres. His work is interwoven with the work of the IAEC since its founding.
Shimon Peres substantially contributed to the establishment of the Negev Nuclear Research Center and the foundation of Israel’s nuclear policy as a significant contribution in ensuring the national strength of the State of Israel. His legacy will accompany the work of the IAEC in the future as well. May his memory be blessed.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday issued a statement saying US President Barack Obama will attend the state funeral of Israel’s ninth president Shimon Peres on Friday. Also on the list of world leaders arriving in Jerusalem: former US President Bill Clinton and his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State John Kerry, Pope Francis, Prince Charles, French President François Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German President Joachim Gauck, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Beatrix, Queen Mother of the Netherlands, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, President of Togo Faure Gnassingbé, and President of Romania Klaus Iohannis.
The foreign ministry has activated an emergency protocol to consolidate information regarding the arriving dignitaries and caring for their needs. The statement notes that ministry personnel will be coordinating the funeral operation with Ben-Gurion International Airport, government ministries and police.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara expressed deep personal sorrow over the passing of the former President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres. The Prime Minister will issue a special statement later this morning and convene the Cabinet in a special session.
In his statement about the passing of President Peres, President Obama wrote: “There are few people who we share this world with who change the course of human history, not just through their role in human events, but because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect more of ourselves. My friend Shimon was one of those people.
“Shimon Peres once said that, ‘I learned that public service is a privilege that must be based on moral foundations.’ Tonight, Michelle and I join people across Israel, the United States and around the world in honoring the extraordinary life of our dear friend Shimon Peres—a Founding Father of the State of Israel and a statesman whose commitment to Israel’s security and pursuit of peace was rooted in his own unshakeable moral foundation and unflagging optimism.
“I will always be grateful that I was able to call Shimon my friend. I first visited him in Jerusalem when I was a senator, and when I asked for his advice, he told me that while people often say that the future belongs to the young, it’s the present that really belongs to the young. “Leave the future to me,” he said, “I have time.” And he was right. Whether it was during our conversations in the Oval Office, walking together through Yad Vashem, or when I presented him with America’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom, Shimon always looked to the future. He was guided by a vision of the human dignity and progress that he knew people of goodwill could advance together. He brought young people from around the world together because he knew they could carry us closer to our ideals of justice and equality.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett directed Israel’s education system to dedicate Wednesday to the life and achievements of Shimon Peres, and called on Jewish communities and schools to do the same, “so the future generation for whom he fought will know who he was and be inspired by him.”
Shimon Peres, Israel’s ninth President, former Prime Minister, Nobel Prize winner, who served for nearly five decades as a member of the Knesset, passed away on Wednesday morning at age 93, following a severe stroke. He will be buried in a state funeral in the plot on Mt. Herzl dedicated to the nation’s great leaders. Peres was married to the late Sonia Peres who died in 2011. They had three children: Tsvia Walden, Yonatan (Yoni) Peres, and Nehemia (Chemi) Peres.
Peres was born on August 2, 1923 as Shimon Perski (a relative of Lauren Bacall a.k.a. Joan Persky), in Wiszniew, Poland (now Vishnyeva, Belarus). In 1934, together with his mother Sara and younger brother Gershon, they followed his father, who made aliyah in 1932. Peres grew up in Tel Aviv and studied at the Ben Shemen agricultural school. He met Sonia in Ben Shemen and they got married in 1945.
Peres became active in the Socialist youth movement Hanoar Haoved and in 1947 was recruited by Levy Eshkol to serve in the Hagana underground headquarters, alongside Eshkol and David Ben-Gurion. In 1953, after a stint as head of naval services in the newly formed IDF, Peres was appointed (at age 29) as Director of the Defense Ministry by Ben-Gurion.
His mission, and greatest achievement as head of Israel’s fledgling defense apparatus, was to turn Israel into a nuclear power. Peres began negotiations with the French in October 1956, during the Sinai War, which was a collaboration of Israel, France and Great Britain to take over the Suez Canal from the revolutionary government in Cairo. Peres stressed Israel’s loyalty to France and the fact that a strong Israel is vital to the French national interest, seeing as the Egyptians were supporting the Algerian FLN underground whose aim was to expel the French from North Africa.
According to Peres’ biographer Michael Bar Zohar, the birth of the Dimona nuclear plant was an exciting tale of intrigue, as the promise to provide the technology was made by French Defense Minister Maurice Bourgès-Maunoury, but on the date set for signing the secret deal, the French government collapsed in the National Assembly. Peres was waiting for Bourgès in his chambers with a bottle of whisky, only to discover that his host was out of office and that his likely successor, Gen. Charles de Gaulle, objected to spreading French nuclear know-how. Peres took advantage of the fact that Bourgès would on occasion tell his wife that he was in a meeting with the Israeli visitor when he was actually meeting with his lover, and demanded to cash his chips with the fallen politician. They agreed to backdate the agreement to the day before, when Bourgès still had the authority to sign it. The Frenchman said “D’accord” and the deal to set Israel up as the sole nuclear power in the Middle East was signed — fraudulently.
In 1959, Peres was elected to the Knesset as member of the ruling Mapai Party, and continued to serve as MK and in various ministerial positions, including as prime minister, almost uninterruptedly for 48 years. In 1965, Peres followed his mentor Ben-Gurion out of Mapai, and formed, together with former Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan, the Rafi party. After the 1967 war, an alignment of Mapai, Rafi and Ahdut Haavoda formed the Israel Labor Party, now also known as the Zionist Camp.
In 1973, after the Yom Kippur war which created a wave of anti-Labor sentiment in the public at large, and following the resignation of Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Dayan, only two labor senior politicians retained their public prestige: Shimon Peres and former Chief of Staff and Ambassador to the US Yizhak Rabin. Rabin won and went on to become prime minister, with Peres as his defense minister, and their campaign for the leadership of Labor started two decades of enmity combined with forced cooperation which culminated in Peres eventually presenting to Rabin the Oslo agreements as an almost fait accompli.
In 1976, as defense minister, Peres was responsible for the Antebe Operation. Meanwhile, his disagreements with Rabin led to the latter’s resignation and the 1977 elections that, for the first time in Israel’s history, placed Likud’s Menahem Begin at the country’s helm. In the 1980s, as Labor’s leader, Peres failed to gain a resounding victory over his rightwing foes, and ended up in a coalition government with Likud in which he and Yitzhak Shamir rotated in the role of prime minister. While serving as Shamir’s foreign minister, Peres launched the London Agreement, a precursor of the Oslo Accord, which was torpedoed by Shamir.
In 1992, with Rabin once again the leader, Labor won the elections and formed a narrow, leftwing coalition government that relied on the Arab votes in the Knesset. Peres and his emissary Dr. Yossi Beilin began secret, illegal negotiations with the PLO, which resulted in the August 20, 1993 Oslo deal. The agreement, which resuscitated a dying PLO and gave it dominion over the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria, resulted, as many had predicted, in rivers of blood, as the Arabs residing in the newly formed Palestinian Authority launched a campaign of bombing and shooting attacks against Israeli civilian centers. In 1995, on the eve of the next elections, Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated and replaced by Peres.
In 1996 Peres lost his final bid for sole possession of the Prime Minister’s office when he lost the election to newcomer Benjamin Netanyahu. The televised debate between them showed the nation a tired, old political hack versus a youthful and well spoken leader. Netanyahu succeeded in forming his first coalition government despite the fact that his party had won by a mere 30,000 votes.
At that point, possibly the lowest in his political life, Shimon Peres reinvented himself and began the next phase in his career, as statesman inspiring an entire world. He founded the Peres Center for Peace, and although he continued to serve in the Knesset and was member of Ehud Barak’s security cabinet, his goals have changed. In 2005 Peres resigned from the Labor party to join Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government, to support the second assault on Jewish life in the 1967 liberated territories: the expulsion of the Jews of Gush Katif. His reward was his election by the Knesset to be Israel’s ninth president in 2007. He gained 58 out of the 120 MK votes in the first round (38 voted for Reuven Rivlin, 21 for Colette Avital). His opponents then threw their support to Peres in the second round and he received 86 votes, with 23 objections.
He spent his seven years in office in an indefatigable global activity, attending conferences, giving speeches around the planet, meeting world leaders and becoming synonymous with the image of Israel’s future as drawn by Israel’s leftwing. He maintained his rigorous schedule after the end of his term in 2014, until, two weeks ago, his body succumbed to a stroke.
His death marks the end of Israel’s generation of founding politicians. He will be remembered for his great contribution to the Jewish State’s military supremacy in the Middle East, but also for his grave mistakes in acting to reverse the same state’s remarkable territorial gains of 1967. May his memory be blessed.
Members of the Peres family were summoned to the bedside of Israel’s ninth president, Shimon Peres, on Tuesday to say their last goodbyes, according to Channel 10 TV news. The former president’s medical condition drastically deteriorated as Peres appeared to be heading for general organ failure. His breathing, kidney function and other vital signs were sluggish, indicating “a source for worry,” doctors said, according to Hebrew-language media. He was listed Tuesday evening in critical condition. Two weeks ago the 93-year-old statesman suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and was hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit at Chaim Sheba Medical Center. Initially he was listed in serious but stable condition and slowly began to improve, initially responding to simple directives, recognizing at least one relative and squeezing the hands of one of them. Last week doctors began to slowly reduce the former president’s sedation. They also attempted to reduce his body’s dependence on the respirator. But his personal physician and son-in-law — also the deputy director of the medical center — Prof. Rafi Walden, said “his condition is extremely serious.” But the situation took a severe turn for the worse on Tuesday, his neurological condition rapidly deteriorating. Sources at the hospital said Peres had suffered irreversible brain damage. All close members of the family were at the bedside of the former president Tuesday.
President Reuven Rivlin is on a state visit to Ukraine and shared the news about Peres with the country’s lawmakers during an address to the parliament in Kiev, referring to his predecessor as “my friend, Shimon Peres.
“My thoughts are with Israel’s ninth president Shimon Peres, who is fighting for his life at these very moments… The president was a guest of honor in this house and a friend of the Ukrainian people,” Rivlin said, “and saw the great importance of strengthening the ties between the states.”
“In the name of the Israeli people, and people around the world, we pray for his recovery.”
Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef visited the bedside of the former president also on Tuesday, and told media he read a passage from Tehillim during the visit. “He was a friend of my father’s, and the two of us had a great relationship,” the Chief Rabbi said.
“An hour before my father died, he came and held his hand. We had a great relationship between us and he respected every living thing, respected the rabbis, loved Torah and is very virtuous.”
Shas Minister Arye Deri and Rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch visited the hospital room of the former president. Both said prayers for his recovery.