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Abbas attends Shimon Peres funeral despite critiques

Sept. 30, 2016 2:33 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 1, 2016 2:40 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attended the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres on Friday, in spite of critiques from rival Palestinian political factions.

Peres died on Wednesday at 93 years of age after suffering a stroke two weeks earlier.

Abbas met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the ceremony, when he told Netanyahu that they had not met in a long time, to which Netanyahu responded that he appreciated Abbas’ presence at the funeral.

Abbas’ Fatah movement, the ruling party in the Palestinian Authority (PA) said in a statement that Abbas’ presence at the funeral was part of his responsibilities as president, particularly at such a widely watched event.

The head of Fatah’s media committee, Munir al-Jaghoub, said that Abbas’ attendance would disprove Israeli claims that Palestinians only believe in violence, and that going showed his responsibility as a leader.

“We are facing the political importance of the president attending the funeral, and his participation forces us as Palestinians to realize what is behind this step and the strong message of Palestinian peace sent to the world,” al-Jaghoub said.

However, the Hamas movement had urged Abbas not to go to Peres’ funeral, saying that such a move would encourage normalization with Israel to the detriment of the Palestinian cause.

Meanwhile, the Popular Resistance Committees condemned the presence of Abbas, as well as Arab and Islamic delegations, at the funeral, saying that paying respects to one of Israel’s “biggest criminals” was “disregarding the feelings and sacrifices of the Palestinian people” and gave Israel “a pass for its crimes.”

The movement went on to say that Peres was never a "peace dove," but a "bloodthirsty assassin," and call for a boycott of Israel and efforts to take its leaders to court for the crimes they committed.

In a demonstration organized after Friday noon prayers in Gaza City, participants set fire to posters and effigies of Peres, Netanyahu, and US President Barack Obama.

Israeli forces and police imposed strict restrictions in Jerusalem ahead of the funeral, attended by scores of delegations from foreign countries, including US President Barack Obama, Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister Jawad al-Anani, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Samih Shukri, and the Omani ambassador to Jordan.

A large number of roads were closed off, and an agreement allowing 250 Palestinian worshipers from the Gaza Strip to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday was suspended.
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