Bill Clinton joins throng of Israelis in viewing casket of Shimon Peres at the Knesset


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Former President Bill Clinton joined throngs of Israelis who came to the Knesset to pay their final respects to Shimon Peres.

Clinton arrived in Israel on Thursday morning and asked to be taken directly to view the casket of Israel’s ninth president lying in state at the Knesset all day. The funeral is scheduled for Friday morning.

Thousands of Israelis are expected to view the casket.

Prior to opening the viewing to the public, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and opposition leader Isaac Herzog lay wreaths beside the coffin in a private ceremony.

Peres died early Wednesday at 93, two weeks after suffering a massive stroke. It was under the auspices of the Clinton administration that Peres, the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat reached the Oslo peace accords in 1993, for which the trio shared the Nobel Peace Prize.

Clinton arrived without his wife, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, despite reports Wednesday that originated with the Foreign Ministry that the candidate also would attend the funeral. The Clinton campaign told news outlets late Wednesday that she would not be attending. Republican nominee Donald Trump also is not planning to attend the funeral.

Some 80 world leaders are expected to arrive in Israel for the funeral.

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