Obama Remembers Shimon Peres, Says Mideast Peace 'Unfinished Business'

PHOTO: President Barack Obama stands alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the funeral of Shimon Peres, on Mt. Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem, Sept. 30,2016.PlayAbir Sultan/Reuters
WATCH Obama Joins World Leaders in Eulogizing Israel's Shimon Peres

In remarks at Shimon Peres's funeral in Israel on Friday, President Obama eulogized the former president for showing that "justice and hope are at the heart of the Zionist idea."

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Obama began his remarks by being the only speaker to acknowledge the attendance of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, calling it "a gesture and a reminder of the unfinished business of peace."

Obama then went on to paint Peres as a man whose vision for Israel at times seemed trapped between critics on the far left and far right.

"Whatever he shared with his family or his closest friends, to the world he brushed off the critics, and I know from my conversations with him that his pursuit of peace was never naive," Obama said.

Obama chronicled Peres's work to attain security for the state of Israel, as well as peace with the Palestinians, pointing out to the attendees that "of course we gather here in the knowledge that Shimon never had his dream of peace fulfilled."

         
              
                     
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                SLIDESHOW: World Mourns Former Israeli President Shimon Peres             
        
    
    

"The region is going through a chaotic time. Threats are ever present," Obama said. "And yet he did not stop dreaming and he did not stop working."

Obama continued to draw parallels with himself and Peres throughout the speech by recounting their meetings together, saying, "I could somehow see myself in his story and maybe he could see himself in mine."

"In many ways, he reminded me of some other giants of the 20th century that I've had the honor to meet," Obama said. "Leaders who have seen so much, whose lives span such momentous epics that they find no need to posture, or traffic in what's popular in the moment, people who speak with depth and knowledge, not in soundbites. They find no interest in polls or fads."

"He knew better than the cynic that if you look out over the arc of history, human beings should be filled not with fear but with hope."

In 2012, Obama honored Peres at the White House with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, praising him for his efforts to broker peace with the Palestinians and his status as one of the founding fathers of the state of Israel.

During the ceremony, Obama was seated alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two leaders met earlier this month for what was assumed to be their final formal meeting of Obama's tenure, capping off years of a tenuous relationship by announcing a new military aid package to Israel, the largest in U.S. history.