Abbas to Attend Peres Funeral in Rare Jerusalem Visit

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will attend the funeral of Israeli ex-president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres, Palestinian officials told AFP on Thursday, in what will be a rare visit to Jerusalem.

Several Palestinian officials confirmed his participation at Friday's funeral, speaking on condition of anonymity. An Israeli defense ministry unit also said Abbas had asked to coordinate his participation.

He will join leaders from across the world at the funeral, including U.S. 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.

Officials for Fatah's rival Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, have welcomed Peres' death and called him "one of the last Israeli founders of occupation".

Abbas' 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.

Source: Agence France Presse

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