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World Leaders Pay Last Respects to Former President Peres at State Funeral

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The flag-draped coffin of former President Shimon Peres is carried by an honor guard at the start of his funeral ceremony.
The flag-draped coffin of former President Shimon Peres is carried by an honor guard at the start of his funeral ceremony. Credit: Baz Ratner, Reuters

World leaders and dignitaries from 70 countries poured into Israel for the state funeral of Israel’s ninth president, Shimon Peres, in Jerusalem on Friday, after thousands of Israelis paid last respects to the elder statesman who died on Wednesday.

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Read more on Shimon Peres: How Peres faced down generals to build Israel's nuclear program | Peres pursued peace for sake of Israel's values, and Palestinians' dignity | Hawk to dove, pro-settlements to pro-peace: Shimon Peres was it all | The countless contradictions of the late and great Shimon Peres

12 P.M. The Israeli flag is being removed from the plain wooden coffin, whose simplicity is in the Jewish tradition, and is lowered into the ground, then covered with earth by the soldiers from the military rabbinate. 

11:40 A.M. Britain's Prince Charles dons a royal kippa as he attends former President Shimon Peres' funeral in Jerusalem.

Britain's Prince Charles at former President Shimon Peres' funeral at Mount Herzl in the capital, September 30, 2016.Credit: Abir Sultan, AFP

11:21 A.M. U.S. President Barack Obama eulogized Peres, saying “I could not be more honored to be in Jerusalem to say farewell to my friend, to Shimon Peres, who showed us that justice and hope are at the heart of the Zionist idea.

"A free life in homeland regained, a secure life of a nation that can defend itself by itself, a full life of a friendship with nations who can be counted on as allies, always. this was Shimon Peres's life. This is the State of Israel. This is the story of the Jewish people.

"Shimon once said the message of the Jewish people to mankind is that faith and vision will triumph over all adversity," Obama said, adding that "It is a full life, driven by the simple pleasures of family and by big dreams. This is Shimon Peres' life. This is the State of Israel." Read full story here.

U.S. President Barack Obama eulogizes former President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on September 30, 2016.Credit: Gil Yohanan

11:04 A.M. Israeli author Amoz Oz said in his remarks at the funeral that Israel had no choice but to pursue peace with the Palestinians to achieve a two-state solution, adding: "Where are the brave leaders who will stand up and make these things a reality? Where are Shimon Peres' successors?" 

11:00 A.M. Peres' children also spoke of their father. His son, Chemi Peres, said, speaking in English: "I believe our father would have wanted us to say a few words in Israel to those who came from across the world to join us at this devastating moment."

"He would have wanted us to thank you for your friendship to him and even more for your friendship to our country."

Peres said that his father believed and would have wanted to say at this moment that "the role of leaders today is to serve their people and there is no greater responsibility and privilege. He saw in all of you leaders, friends and partners in his quest for peace who would treasure his memory and honor his legacy."

10:34 A.M. Former U.S. President Clinton honored Peres as a dear friend, who inspired awe by refusing to lose hope. "I always was in awe of his endless capacity to look beyond even the most crushing setbacks in order to seize the possibilities," Clinton said. Read full story here.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton passes the flag-draped coffin of former President Shimon Peres during his funeral in Jerusalem, September 30, 2016.Credit: Ariel Schalit, AP

10:10 A.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Peres a great man and thanked world leaders.

"I want to thank you all for coming today. That so many leaders came from around the world to bid farewell to Shimon is a testament to his optimism, his quest for peace and his love for Israel the people of Israel. I deeply appreciate the honor you have shown Shimon.

"Shimon lived a life of purpose, he soared to many heightshe was a great man of Israel he was a great man of the world. We find hope in his legacy, as does the world."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at state funeral for Shimon Peres. Credit: AP

9:56 A.M  President Reuven Rivlin, the first to eulogize late statesman, called his predecessor a peace seeker who moved mountains and whose death marks "the end of an era" for the country, also apologizing for vociferous right-wing criticism of his diplomatic achievements.

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

"You taught many around the world to love the State of Israel," Rivlin said, "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." Read full story here.

9:40 A.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin entered the tent and were seated immediately afterwards. Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, greeted the numerous heads of state and dignitaries in attendance, and took their seats next to U.S. President Barack Obama in the front row.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama stand side by side at former President Shimon Peres' funeral in Jerusalem, September 30, 2016.Credit: Abir Sultan, AP

9:20 A.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara greeted Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas as he arrived. Netanyahu and Abbas shook hands and spoke ahead of the funeral for Shimon Peres (read full story).

At the request of the Peres family, Abbas is seated in the front row.

Image released by Israeli Prime Minister's spokesman shows Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas shaking hands with Benjamin Netanyahu during funeral of Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on September 30, 2016. Credit: AFP, Handout

Abbas told Netanyahu during their snap meeting that ''it's been a long time since we last met." Netanyahu responded: "I very much appreciate that you came to the funeral."

Britain's Prince Charles, center, is seen upon his arrival to Mount Herzl Cemetery to attend the funeral of former President Shimon Peres, in Jerusalem September 30, 2016. Credit: Ronen Zvulun, Reuters

9:15 A.M. Dignitaries including former British Prime Ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair, Prince Charles, and former U.S. President Bill Clinton have arrived at Mount Herzl and joined the crowd of over 500 mourners taking their seats under the large white tent erected in front of Peres' grave. 

9:10 A.M. Spotted: Casino billionaire, major Republican party and Trump campaign donor – as well as key Netanyahu supporter – Sheldon Adelson is attending the funeral. Also present is Democratic mega donor Haim Saban, who flew to Israel in his private jet with former President Bill Clinton.

8:45 A.M. Former President Peres' casket was carried by a military honor guard from the Knesset to a vehicle that will take his body to Mount Herzl.

His large family was gathered behind as a military rabbi and cantor chanted the traditional Jewish prayers of mourning. The family joined in the Kaddish prayer.

8:31 A.M. Major routes were closed to traffic in the capital ahead of former President Shimon Peres' funeral at Mount Herzl.

A military honor guard carries former President Shimon Peres' coffin from the Knesset to Mount Herzl.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi 

The routes are set to reopen after attendants leave the burial site at the end of the funeral.

8:05 A.M. U.S. President Barack Obama landed at Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport shortly after 8 A.M on his way to former President Shimon Peres' funeral in Jerusalem.

Route 1, which leads to the capital, was shut ahead of the American president's arrival.

U.S. President Barack Obama arrives on Air Force One at Ben-Gurion Airport, Friday, Sept. 30, 2016, en route the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem.Credit: Carolyn Kaster, AP

Haaretz's reporters Jonathan Lis, Anshel Pfeffer, Barak Ravid and Allison Kaplan Sommer contributed to this report

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