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Obama, Clinton Attend Shimon Peres' Funeral in Jerusalem

Alastair Jamieson, Ranna Khalil, Stacey Klein and Phil Helsel
President Barack Obama touches the coffin of Shimon Peres after delivering his eulogy during the funeral at Mount Herzl Cemetery on September 30, 2016 in Jerusalem, Israel.
Getty Images

TEL AVIV — Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Israeli president Shimon Peres was remembered as a "great man" Friday as scores of world leaders attended his funeral.

President Barack Obama and President Bill Clinton were among 90 delegations from 70 countries paying their respects to Peres, who died Tuesday while hospitalized for a major stroke. He was 93.

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His flag-covered casket was carried from the Knesset in Jerusalem before a military honor guard escorted it into the ceremony at Israel's Mount Herzl national cemetery, where a rabbi sang traditional funeral prayers.

Peres served as the nation's ninth president and as prime minister, as well as in various other positions over a career that spanned six decades.

Shimon Peres dead at 93

Some 6,000 mourners attended the event, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

In a 20-minute eulogy, Obama said Peres showed that that justice and hope are at the heart of the Zionist ideal, and had always strived for a resolution of Israeli-Palestinian conflict that treated both sides equally.

"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," he said.

He said Abbas's attendance was a reminder of the "unfinished business of peace" in the Middle East.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid tribute to him as "a great man of the world."

He added: "Israel grieves for him. The world grieves for him."

Clinton said Peres was Israel's "biggest dreamer" and called him a "wise champion of our common humanity."

He described a meeting where Israeli and Arab children together sang John Lennon's "Imagine."

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (L), Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres (C) and Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin display their Nobel Peace Prizes December 10, 1994 in Oslo, Norway.
Yaakov Saar | GPO | Getty Images

Clinton said Peres "he imagined all the things the rest of us could do. He started life as Israel's brightest student, became its best teacher and ended up its biggest dreamer."

He added: "He lived 93 years in a state of constant wonder over the unbelievable potential of all the rest of us to rise above our wounds, our resentments, our fears to make the most of today and claim the promise of tomorrow."

Obama's motorcade sped from Tel Aviv along highways that were deserted aside from local police every few hundred yards.

A staunch patriot credited with building up Israel's military, and who supported settlements in territories occupied by Israel after the 1967 war, Peres later pursued a more conciliatory path toward peace between between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

In 1994, Peres won the Nobel Peace Prize, sharing the honor with then-Israeli Prime Minister and political rival Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Peres was Israel's foreign minister during talks between Israel and Palestinian representatives, which led to the creation of the Oslo Accords. The deal marked the first time the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization formally recognized each other and the possibility of a two-state solution.

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