The coffin of former president Shimon Peres, Israel's ninth president who died on Wednesday, was set up in the Knesset courtyard today, allowing the public to pay respect and say goodbye to the 93-year-old politician. Dozens of leaders, representatitves and long-time friends and admirers have arrived or are on their way to attend Peres' funeral on Friday.
VIDEO CLIP OF IN-STATE CEREMONY AT THE KNESSET TODAY. ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW
Dignitaries making their way to Jerusalem include the President of the United States, Barack Obama, and the United Kingdom's Prince of Wales, Prince Charles.
Illustrating the global regard for Peres, Obama has instructed to lower US flags to half-mast throughout the country. This is only the sixth time in US history that the flag has been lowered in honor of a foreign leader.
After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Speaker of the Knesset Edestein and President Rivlin paid their respects at 08:45 this morning, the general public is making its way to say goodbye and pass before Peres' coffin at the Knesset courtyard between 09:00 – 21:00.
A number of main thoroughfares in Jerusalem are closed today and tomorrow in order to facilitate the process of laying to rest the body of Shimon Peres.
On Friday morning at 08:30, Peres' coffin will begin its journey to Mt. Herzl, where a funeral of some 5,000 attendees will take place in front of Theodore Herzl's tomb. Several dignitaries will deliver their eulogies during the wide-scale ceremony, following which the procession will move to the Great Leaders of the Nation's Plot, where a smaller group of roughly 500 people—including world heads of state—will take part.
In accordance with Jewish custom, Peres' shiva will take place two hours before sunset on Friday, and will resume after the Shabbat passes and then Sunday, until two hours before the begining of Rosh Hashanah.
In addition to Obama, Peres will be honored by his three children—Tsvia Walden, Yoni and Chemi Peres—and by President Reuven Rivlin and Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstin, all of whom will be speaking at his funeral.
Some 80 delegations are expected to arrive in Israel from all over the world. Among those who will be ariving are US Seceretary of State John Kerry, former president Bill Clinton and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former British prime minister Tony Blair, Prince Charles, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, French President François Hollande, German President Joachim Gauck, King Felipe VI of Spain and the presidents ot Ukraine, Poland, Belgium, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Latvia and Mexico.
It is yet unknown, however, if any dignitaries from Arab countries will be attending Peres' funeral. These could include Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordanian King Abdullah II.
Peres will be buried at the Great Leaders of the Nation's Plot at Mt. Herzl. His plot is located between those of former prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Yitzhak Shamir. Peres will be buried alone, as he late wife Sonya requested to be buried in Moshav Ben Shemen while Shimon Peres made it clear his wish to buried at Mt. Herzl.
The Peres family asked singer David D'Or to sing the Jewish prayer Aviu Malkeinu during the funeral.
This is a lightly edited version of the original article published by YNet News at http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4861237,00.html