Rabat - US President Barack Obama traveled a great distance to share his condolences and present a eulogy to his late friend Shimon Peres.
Rabat – US President Barack Obama traveled a great distance to share his condolences and present a eulogy to his late friend Shimon Peres.
His presentation however was eclipsed by an embarrassing correction made by his state department.
The state Department’s press agency issued a statement about President Obama’s comments noting that the location of the funeral was Mount Herzl, Jerusalem in Israel. Realizing their error, the press office, crossed out the word Israel six hours later.
Since 1967 the state department has never referred to the city of Jerusalem as Israeli territory.
“The administration’s policy towards Jerusalem follows that of previous US administrations– of both parties– since 1967,” a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post, explaining the correction.
“The status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. We continue to work with the parties to resolve this issue and others in a way this is just and fair, and respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.”
Peres, whose political career spanned some seventy years, was part of the founding generation of Zionists Israeli leaders.
Speaking at the ceremony, Obama said: “I could not be more honored to be in Jerusalem to say farewell to my friend Shimon Peres, who showed us that justice and hope are at the heart of the Zionist idea.”
Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine and Palestinian National Authority, was at the funeral and was photographed shaking hands with Israeli Prime Minster Benyamin Netanyahu. Shots were reportedly fired at Abbas’ home in the West Bank the day following the funeral.
Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, said of the tributes for Peres: “We need to separate between fact and fiction. A lot of things being said today are fiction, or selective.
“The facts are … illegal settlements that he said should be mushrooming everywhere went up by 50 percent after he signed a deal with the Palestinians” said Bishara in an AlJazeera article.
Bishara added: “Palestinian leaders – after 25 years of peace process – are allowed to enter Jerusalem, only when an Israeli dies.
“President Abbas, for the last 20 years, has not been allowed to enter the future capital of the Palestinian state, where some 250,000 Palestinians live – in Jerusalem.
“The only time he is allowed is when an Israeli dies and he has to pay his final respects. He needs to get a permit from the Israelis in order to do that. Who instituted that permit? Peres,” Bishara said.
The State Department error although corrected raised questions about the status of Jerusalem that are already part of the 2016 presidential campaign. GOP Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump said if elected, he would acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a policy change the Knesset has sought for several decades.