Mahmoud Abbas to attend Shimon Peres funeral
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas will attend the funeral of Israeli ex-president Shimon Peres, Palestinian officials told AFP on Thursday, in what will be a rare visit to Jerusalem.
Several Palestinian officials confirmed Abbas's participation at Friday's funeral, speaking on condition of anonymity. An Israeli defence ministry unit also said Abbas had asked to coordinate his participation.
He will join leaders from across the world at the funeral, including US President Barack Obama.
Many Palestinians have denounced Peres as a "war criminal" following his death, but Abbas hailed him as a "brave" partner for peace and sent his family condolences.
Abbas's Fatah party dominates the Palestinian Authority, which is in power in the West Bank.
Fatah's Gaza-based rivals in Hamas called Peres a "criminal" and "one of the last Israeli founders of occupation".
The Palestinian president's attendance at the funeral comes with peace efforts at a complete standstill since April 2014.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for direct negotiations with Abbas, but the Palestinians have pursued an international strategy, saying years of talks with the Israelis have not ended the occupation of the West Bank.
Peres won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for his role in negotiating the Oslo accords, which envisioned an independent Palestinian state.
He died on Wednesday at age 93 after a major stroke.
Abbas was not the only Arab politician to pay tribute to Peres. Bahrain’s foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa expressed condolences for the late Israeli leader via Twitter.
“Rest in Peace President Shimon Peres, a Man of War and a Man of the still elusive Peace in the Middle East,” Al Khalifa wrote.
Some Palestinians expressed outrage at Abbas's decision on social medial.
"Mahmoud Abbas wants to attend Peres's funeral, because that's what dutiful sellouts do, they suck up, hoping to line their pockets further," Palestinian-American poet Remi Kanazi wrote on Twitter.
Others praised Abbas's attendance as a courageous decision.