JERUSALEM (Dec. 11)
Thousands of mourners filed by the coffin of former Premier Golda Meir today. Her body will lie in state in the forecourt of the Knesset building until six tomorrow morning. Memorial services will be held in the Knesset chamber and the funeral procession will then proceed to Mr. Herzl where Mrs. Meir will be buried near the graves of other leaders and founders of Israel.
Despite cold, rainy weather, the lines were long outside the Knesset today. Mourners from all over Israel and visitors from abroad walked slowly past the flag-draped casket to pay their final respects. Police estimated their number at about 5000 an hour. Military chaplains recited psalms over the coffin. A blue uniformed honor guard stood at rigid attention.
In Tel Aviv, too, throngs gathered outside Mrs. Meir’s home in the Ramat Aviv quarter where members of her family were sitting shiva. Many were family friends and long-time associates of Mrs. Meir in the Labor movement, and Jewish leaders from abroad.
But most were ordinary Israelis for whom the Meir home has become a shrine since her death Friday at the age of 80. Parents were heard whispering to children, “Here is where Golda lived.” A policeman posted at the gate could not conceal his sorrow. He recalled that before Mrs. Meir was hospitalized she would always bring a hot cup of coffee or tea out to whatever policeman happened to be on duty guarding her home.
U.S. DELEGATION ARRIVES
Meanwhile, the official American delegation to Mrs. Meir’s funeral arrived at Ben Gurion Airport today, headed by Mrs. Lillian Carter, President Carter’s mother. They were greeted warmly by Acting Premier Yigael Yadin. (See separate story for names of the American delegation members.)
Mrs. Carter said she was always interested in Mrs. Meir’s career, especially since there are only a few months difference in their ages. “I do not eulogize Golda. I wanted very much to tell her that I wished I could have known her,” Mrs. Carter said. She told Yadin and the reporters assembled at the airport, “To all of you I offer the deepest condolences from me and my son on the passing of this wonderful woman, Golda Meir.”
A cable was received by President Yitzhak Navon in Jerusalem today from Soviet Jewish activists in Moscow, Leningrad and Tbillsi. It said, “We express our sorrow and participate in the grief of the entire Jewish people over the death of the great stateswoman, one of the founders of the State of Israel, the illustrious woman, Golda Meir.” No mention of Mrs. Meir’s death was carried in the Soviet news media but news of her passing spread rapidly among Soviet Jews nevertheless.
Thousands are expected to attend the funeral tomorrow which will be covered live by radio and television. Police and army units have begun security preparations which will be especially strict in view of the large number of important persons from Israel and abroad who will be in the procession.