Abbas Draws Fire From Palestinians for Appearing to Cry at Peres Funeral
An image that appeared to show Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas crying at the funeral of the late Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on Friday drew angry responses on Palestinian media outlets and online social networks, the Hebrew news site Walla reported.
“Abbas, what is making you cry?” one Arabic-language tweet read. “Is Peres’ passing so painful?”
“Mahmoud Abbas crying at the funeral of war criminal Simone [sic] Peres who massacred thousands of innocent Lebanese and Palestinian civilians,” an English-language tweet said.
Tel Aviv-based American journalist Gregg Carlstrom took a more humoristic approach, tweeting, “Abbas is either crying, or just remembered he left the stove on.”
According to the Walla report, Abbas’ office later denied the 81-year-old leader had been crying, saying he had been focusing on listening to the translation of a eulogy.
The Palestinian news agency Maan reported that Abbas’ Fatah Party issued a statement saying the PA leader’s attendance at the Peres funeral was part of his duties as president.
Munir al-Jaghoub, the head of Fatah’s media committee, was quoted as saying that Abbas’ participation in the funeral sent a “strong message of Palestinian peace to the world.”
At Friday’s funeral, Abbas shook hands and briefly spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Long time, long time,” Abbas said to the prime minister.
Netanyahu, standing next to his wife Sara, told Abbas that his presence at the funeral was “something I appreciate very much on behalf of our people and on behalf of us.”
Shortly after Peres’ death, Abbas issued a condolence statement. “Peres was a partner in making the peace of the brave with both the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin,” Abbas said. “He exerted persistent efforts to reach a just peace from the Oslo agreement until the final moments of his life.”
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, on the other hand, stated, “The Palestinian people are very happy at the passing of this criminal who caused their blood to shed…Shimon Peres was the last remaining Israeli official who founded the occupation, and his death is the end of a phase in the history of this occupation and the beginning of a new phase of weakness.”
Peres — who served as Israel’s president from 2007-2014 and was also twice prime minister, once in the mid-1980s and again in the mid-90s, died at the age of 93 on Wednesday two weeks after suffering a stroke. His funeral was attended by dozens of top leaders from around the world, including US President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton.