As much as Shimon Peres won respect among a broad spectrum of Israelis in his last years, he was still a politician, and as such it was not surprising that politics should surface in connection with his funeral on Thursday.
Peres spent most of his political life in the Labor Party, and party officials were indignant that no one from their ranks or from the left in general was included on the speakers list.
The only politicians set to speak are President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, all members of Likud, the Labor’s main rival for decades.
“It is wrong that there is no representative of Peres’s political camp speaking at his funeral,” Labor MK Amir Peretz said. “There will be no one there to express the views of half the nation.”
Former Knesset speaker Shevach Weiss said it was wrong to give honors at the funeral to “people who opposed Peres’s basic ideals.”
In response, Culture Minister Miri Regev (Likud), whose committee is in charge of organizing the funeral, explained that the opposition leaders do not normally speak at such events. In addition, due to the proximity of Shabbos, no speeches would be added.
The current Labor party head Isaac Herzog himself downplayed the matter, saying there were already too many speeches planned. He praised Peres at a special party meeting held at the Knesset on Thursday.
“He was larger than life,” Herzog said at the meeting. “Israel has never had such a leader. His contribution to everything good in Israel was huge. He was also the best teller of Israel’s story.”