World leaders offer their tributes at Shimon Peres's funeral

The funeral of Israel’s former leader Shimon Peres was attended by a host of political heavyweights.

International dignitaries including Boris Johnson, David Cameron, Tony Blair, Barack Obama and Francois Hollande came to Jerusalem to pay their respects.

The country’s president Reuven Rivlin gave the first in a string of eulogies, praising Peres as a “man of deeds”, and saying he was speaking “as one president to another”.

The funeral is expected to be Israel’s largest since that of the prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, Peres’s partner in peace, who was killed by a Jewish nationalist in 1995.

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the gathering of dozens of world leaders was a “testament” to Peres’s optimism, quest for peace and devotion to Israel. Indeed the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, was seated in the front row, despite tensions between the two countries.

“He was a great man of Israel. He was a great man of the world. Israel grieves for him. The world grieves for him,” Netanyahu said.

Former US president Bill Clinton described a meeting where Israeli and Arab children sang John Lennon’s song Imagine.

Clinton said Peres was a “wise champion of our common humanity” and “imagined all the things the rest of us could do”.

Obama was the final speaker at the funeral, saying that Peres’s statesmanship built an unbreakable bond with the United States and other countries.

He said Peres made sure the Jewish people had the armaments to secure their freedom and laid the foundation for the armed forces that won Israel’s wars.

Peres’s children also gave moving tributes describing him as a loving family man. Daughter Tzvia Walden said her father loved knowledge and was “astonished” if he lent her a book that she had not read by the next day.

Earlier, a military honour guard took the coffin from the parliament building and escorted it, with his family, to a vehicle. The guard recited Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead.

The casket made the short journey to Mount Herzl, Israel’s national cemetery, where Peres is to be buried alongside most of the country’s past leaders.

Considered a founding father of Israel, Peres died early on Wednesday of complications following a stroke. He was 93.

He shared a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for attempting to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since then, the peace process has collapsed.

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