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White House issues Obama eulogy transcript omitting Israel from dateline

Le président américain Barack Obama prononce l'hommage funèbre de Shimon Peres le 30 septembre 2016 lors de ses obsèques au cimetière du Mont Eerzl à Jérusalem
Thomas COEX (AFP)
Updated version of speech transcript indicated that Jerusalem is disputed territory

The White House on Friday night issued an updated transcript of US President Barack Obama's eulogy at Shimon Peres's funeral to remove “Israel” from the Jerusalem dateline, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The transcript of the president's eulogy originally stated that the ceremony was held in Jerusalem, Israel, but then later in the day, the White House sent out a corrected version of the transcript with Israel explicitly crossed out, according to the report.

World leaders bid farewell to Israeli elder statesman and Nobel Peace laureate Peres at his funeral in Jerusalem Friday, with Obama hailing him as a giant of the 20th century.

US policy since 1949 has been not to recognize Jerusalem as belonging to any nation until its status is settled through peace talks.

Explaining the correction, a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post that "the administration's policy towards Jerusalem follows that of previous US administrations– of both parties– since 1967."

The State Department has long refrained from recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and does not refer to the city as Israeli territory.

Obama gave a heartfelt eulogy at the funeral of Israel's former president and prime minister on Friday.

He said that Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's presence at the funeral was a reminder of the "unfinished business of peace."

At the start of his eulogy for Nobel Peace Prize winner Peres in Jerusalem, Obama mentioned Abbas, who was seated in the front row, and said his "presence here is a gesture and a reminder of the unfinished business of peace."

Obama said later, speaking of Peres, that "the Jewish people weren't born to rule another people, he would say".

"He believed that the Zionist idea would be best protected when Palestinians too had a state of their own.

"Of course we gather here in the knowledge that Shimon never saw his dream of peace fulfilled."

Obama said Peres "understood in this war-torn region where too often Arab youth are taught to hate Israel from an early age ... just how hard peace would be."

Peres held nearly every major office in Israel, serving twice as prime minister and as president, a mainly ceremonial role, from 2007 to 2014.

He won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for his role as foreign minister in negotiating the Oslo accords, which envisioned an independent Palestinian state.

But there has been little progress in peace efforts in recent years and there have been growing warnings that the possibility of a two-state solution to the conflict is slipping away.

Obama has been unable to make progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during his eight years in office. A US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014 and peace efforts have been comatose since then.

There has been speculation that Obama may seek to somehow lay out his vision for a resolution to the decades-old conflict before leaving office in January.

Israel is concerned about the possibility, worried that Obama may support or decide not to veto a UN Security Council resolution on the conflict that it opposes.

He has had a testy personal relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government is seen as the most right-wing in the country's history.

His administration has frequently criticised Israel over persistent settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank.

Obama however sat next to Netanyahu during the funeral, and the two men have put aside their differences in recent months to agree a decade-long $38 billion defense aid package for Israel.

They spoke together after the the service as they walked to Peres's graveside for his burial.

Abbas shook hands and spoke briefly with Netanyahu before the start of the funeral, a rare occurrence.

The last substantial public meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu was in 2010, though there have been unconfirmed reports of secret meetings since then.

Staff with agencies

Comments

(2)

The original transcript is correct

Abu Mazen showed up for one reason and it was not to respect Shimon Peres and his family: Politically motivation only; this is the same "leader" who encouraged his people to stab and kill Israelis and paid their families. The failure of Westerners to grasp this reality is mind-boggling.

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