- The Washington Times - Friday, September 30, 2016

President Obama paid tribute to the late Israeli President Shimon Peres Friday as a man who saw “all people as deserving of dignity and respect.”

Mr. Obama, wearing a Jewish skullcap as a sign of respect at the funeral in Israel, said of the 93-year-old leader who died Wednesday, “The last of the founding generation is now gone.”

He recalled that he and Peres forged an unlikely friendship, despite the big difference in their ages and starkly different backgrounds.

“It was so surprising to see the two of us, where we had started, talking together in the White House, meeting here in Israel,” Mr. Obama said. “I think both of us understood that we were here only because in some way we reflected the magnificent story of our nations.”

Among the U.S. delegation at the funeral in Israel was former President Bill Clinton. Mr. Obama and other world leaders hailed Peres for his vision and his leadership in securing a strong defense.

They also spoke of his tireless efforts for peace. Mr. Obama said Peres understood the Palestinians must be seen as equal in dignity to Jews and therefore must be equal in self-determination.

Shimon never saw his dream of peace fulfilled,” Mr. Obama said. “The region is going through a chaotic time. Threats are ever-present and yet he did not stop dreaming and he did not stop working.”

Mr. Clinton praised Peres‘ ability to move beyond demoralizing setbacks.

“He never gave up on anybody, I mean anybody,” Mr. Clinton said.

Peres served as Israel’s president, prime minister and foreign minister. The U.S. delegation that arrived early Friday on Air Force One included Secretary of State John F. Kerry and about 20 members of Congress and several administration officials.

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