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Shimon Peres funeral: Leaders hail legacy of former Israeli leader

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“Personally I think it’s pretty stupid really. It’s the Australian national anthem, it’s a part of our sport, our history.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has described the campaign as “divisive”.

“This is a weekend where everyone comes together,” he told 3AW Radio.

“The two big codes, the NRL and AFL, work hard to be inclusive and embrace modern Australia and all of its diversity.

“Sport is a really wonderful inclusive institution in Australia. It divides us in the sense that we support different teams, but only in a pretty good-natured way, but above all it pulls us together. That’s why we should all sing.”
Staying seated

Former rugby league player Joe Williams has been one of the loudest voices backing the campaign.

Williams, who is Aboriginal, has attracted controversy before for remaining seated during the anthem, during an Australia Day ceremony recognising his community work.

“Why should we sing something that doesn’t represent us?” he told the BBC.

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“Would Malcolm Turnbull feel comfortable if he was made to sing God Save the Queen?”

He dismissed suggestions that the country’s biggest sporting events were inappropriate venues to make a political statement.

“You’re a black man until the day you die,” he said.

“You’re only a footballer for a short amount of time.”

US President Barack Obama closed the eulogies, comparing Mr Peres to “some of the other giants of the 20th Century that I’ve had the honour to meet, like Nelson Mandela and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth”.

Mr Peres, he said, believed in equality for Palestinians.

“Even in the face of terrorist attacks, even after repeated disappointments at the negotiation table, he insisted that as human beings Palestinians must be seen as equal in dignity to Jews and must therefore be equal in self determination.”
Farewell to founding generation – by Kevin Connolly, BBC News

On Mount Herzl where evergreen trees shaded the dusty walkways from the late-summer sunshine, an extraordinary congregation assembled to say goodbye to Shimon Peres.

You could have worked out that it was his funeral from the guest list alone – Prince Charles and Barack Obama, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. It’s hard to imagine any other leader being mourned in quite the same way.

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Israel said goodbye to the last of its founding generation and global diplomacy mourned a lost star, but the children of Shimon Peres grieved a father and spoke of him with elegance and simplicity.

And Mr Peres remained in command to the end, choosing his own funeral music. It was a setting of an old prayer he remembered his grandfather singing to him in the pre-war Poland of the 1920s.

Elegant and mournful, it played at the end of the old president’s long journey, as it had played at the start.

Before the ceremony began, Mr Abbas was seen shaking hands and speaking briefly with Mr Netanyahu. The last substantial public meeting between the two leaders was in 2010, with peace efforts completely suspended since April 2014.

Hamas, the hardline Palestinian group that runs Gaza, condemned Mr Abbas’s decision to attend the ceremony.

Mr Abbas, along with Mr Peres, was one of those who signed the Oslo peace accords in 1993, in the presence of Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin.

Mr Peres, Mr Rabin and Mr Arafat were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 “for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East”. All three have now died.

Mr Peres’ reputation in the region is complicated by the 1996 shelling of Qana in southern Lebanon that killed more than 100 people who were sheltering in a UN compound.

It happened when, as prime minister, he ordered an offensive against a wave of rocket fire by the militant Hezbollah movement.

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He later said it was a “bitter surprise” to find that several hundred people were in the camp at the time.
Security operation

Mr Peres’ coffin was earlier escorted by a military honour guard from the parliament building in Jerusalem to Mount Herzl, Israel’s national cemetery, where he was laid to rest alongside many of the country’s former leaders.

Jordan and Egypt – the only two Arab countries to have signed peace deals with Israel – both sent official representatives to the ceremony.

Mixed reaction to Peres’ legacy in world media

Long legacy of Israel’s elder statesman

Obituary: Shimon Peres, Israeli founding father

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