Shimon Peres funeral: World leaders gather in Israel…
Dozens of world leaders are gathering in Israel to pay tributes to Shimon Peres, one of the country’s founding fathers, who died on Wednesday aged 93.
Mr Peres’ state funeral will be held in Jerusalem later on Friday.
A massive security operation in preparation has so far led to the “preventative arrests” of several people.
Guests include the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who will visit Israel for the first time since 2010.
The Israeli news website Haaretz reported that the visit comes at the request of Mr Abbas.
As a negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), he was one of the people who signed the Oslo peace accords in 1993, for which Mr Peres won a Nobel Peace Prize the year after, along with Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin.
A senior Palestinian official told the Associated Press news agency that Mr Abbas wanted to “send a strong message to Israeli society that the Palestinians are for peace, and appreciate the efforts of peaceful men like Shimon Peres”.
But a spokesman for Hamas, the more hardline Palestinian group which runs Gaza, called on Mr Abbas to “retract his decision to participate in the funeral of the criminal Shimon Peres”.
Mr Peres’ reputation in the region is complicated by the 1996 shelling of Qana in southern Lebanon that killed more than 100 people who were sheltering in a UN compound.
It happened when he was prime minister. He later said it was a “bitter surprise” to find that several hundred people were in the camp at the time.
Only one country in the Middle East – Jordan – is sending an official representative.