Rivlin Lauds Peres' Peace Efforts: Your Death Marks End of an Era

At funeral for the former president, Israeli President says Peres' passing marks the end of the country's 'era of giants'.

President Reuven Rivlin eulogizes predecessor Shimon Peres at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, September 30, 2016.
Baz Ratner, Reuters

Israel's President Reuven Rivlin eulogized late statesman Shimon Peres at his funeral on Friday as a peace seeker who moved mountains whose death marks "the end of an era" for the country, also apologizing for vociferous right-wing criticism of his diplomatic achievements.

"You taught many around the world to love the State of Israel," Rivlin said at Peres's graveside at a Mt. Herzl burial attended by 70 world leaders, bidding farewell to the late elder statesman and Nobel laureate, widely admired for his peacemaking efforts with the Palestinians.

"This is a sad moment. The journey of your dreams that began in Poland ends in Jerusalem, a dream that became a reality in and of itself."

"People came from near and far to pay tribute to you. All over the world, people will miss you. We here, already do."

"Your stubborn faith in mankind and the good of people - in the victory of progress over ignorance, in the victory of hope over fear - was your eternal fountain of youth," Rivlin said.

Rivlin noted how Peres was the only Israeli to hold the three most senior positions in government, as a former prime minister, foreign minister and defense minister, and the only Israeli to ever serve as both a prime minister and a president.

"Few among us understand, and much more will be written about how many mountains you moved, from the days of the state’s establishment and till today in order to ensure our security and our military qualitative edge," Rivlin said, referring also to Peres' contribution in Israel's early years to building its defense industries and acquiring a nuclear reactor.

Rivlin also begged forgiveness of Peres alluding to strong right-wing criticism of his peace efforts through the years.  Peres suffered much derision for a 1993 interim peace deal with the Palestinians known as the Oslo Accords, though it won him a Nobel peace prize.

"I unashamedly confess, on the eve of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, at your graveside among the graves of the leaders of our nation, also your forgiveness must be asked," Rivlin said.

"It was permitted to disagree with you. Your opponents had a duty to express their opinion. However, there were years in which red lines were crossed between ideological disputes and words and deeds which had no place."

He remarked at how Peres' passing marks "the end of an era, the end of the era of giants," of the nation's founders.