Trudeau, Clinton, Obama to join world leaders at Peres funeral in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (JTA) –Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will represent Canada at the funeral of former Israeli president and prime minister Shimon Peres.

U.S. President Barack Obama, as well as former president Bill Clinton, also will attend the funeral of Israel’s ninth president scheduled for Friday morning at the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem. Bill Clinton presided over the Oslo peace accords that led to the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for Peres, Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Peres died early on Wednesday morning two weeks after suffering a massive stroke at the age of 93. Peres will lie in state outside the Knesset in Jerusalem on Thursday to allow the public to pay respects.

Pope Francis had originally said he would attend but will not since he is due to begin a three-day visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan that day.

World leaders scheduled to attend include: French President François Hollande; German Chancellor Angela Merkel; German President Joachim Gauck; Charles, the Prince of Wales; former British prime minister David Cameron; Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto; Togo President Faure Gnassingbé; Australian Governor General Peter Cosgrove; Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix; and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Leaders of the European Union, including EU President Donald Tusk and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, are also planning to attend.

Other world leaders include: Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann; Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz; Portuguese Foreign Minister Augosto Santos Silva; Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis; and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė.

It is not clear if the Palestinians will send a delegation to the funeral. Israel Radio reported Wednesday that the PA will not come unless they are invited by the family.

Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev said on Wednesday at the meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Symbols and Ceremonies that the state, co-ordinated by the committee, is “preparing for a very large and complex funeral that will co-ordinate very many elements.”

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, attended the meeting.

The timing of the funeral also will be constrained by the start of Shabbat at sundown on Friday, Regev said.

Peres will be buried between the plots of slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and his wife, Leah. Peres’ wife, Sonia, who died in 2011, is buried in the Ben Shemen Children’s village. Peres’ daughter Tzvia Walden told WallaNews that her mother knew that if she was not buried on Mount Herzl that the couple would be separated in death. “My mother knew this and chose her way, and he respected that,” Walden said.

Workers on Wednesday began preparing the gravesite on Mount Herzl. A helipad and small airstrips also were being constructed near the cemetery to allow world leaders to arrive for the funeral from Ben-Gurion International airport without disrupting traffic into Jerusalem, Walla reported.

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