Handshake is a rare sign of unity as world leaders pay tribute to ‘dreamer’ Peres

It was only the briefest of meetings but, amid the eulogies and reflection on the life of Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres, it stood out as a fleeting sign of togetherness. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas shook hands and spoke briefly in a rare public encounter between the two men. “Good to see you. Long time,” Mr Abbas said in broken English. The Palestinian president, rare among Arab leaders in expressing sorrow of Mr Peres’s death earlier this week at the age of 93, greeted Israeli officials, hugging some members of Peres’ family and shaking hands with officials and mourners.

He was a great man of Israel. He was a great man of the world. Israel grieves for him. The world grieves for him

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Mr Abbas was making a rare trip to Jerusalem from his base in the West Bank city of Ramallah, joining leaders from around the world for the funeral of the Israeli ex-president. There were glowing tributes to Mr Peres, lauded for his apparent efforts to bring peace to the Middle East but still widely distrusted in the Arab world. In his address, former U.S president Bill Clinton described a meeting where Israeli and Arab children together sang John Lennon’s Imagine. He said: “He imagined all the things the rest of us could do. He started life as Israel’s brightest student, became its best teacher and ended up its biggest dreamer.”

He lived 93 years in a state of constant wonder over the unbelievable potential of all the rest of us to rise above our wounds, our resentments, our fears to make the most of today and claim the promise of tomorrow

Bill Clinton