The son-in-law and personal doctor of the late Shimon Peres, Prof. Rafi Walden, was critical of Arab MKs who refused to attend Peres’ funeral tomorrow.
“I am surprised and disappointed by them,” Walden said. “There was a famous saying of Abba Eban (Israel's ambassador to the UN during the Six Day War, ed.) that the Arabs 'never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.' This time, the Arabs of Israel, unfortunately, are missing an unprecedented opportunity to express their appreciation for a man who did more than any other in Israel to bring peace and love between Jews and Arabs - both within Israel and between Israel and its neighbors - and it’s a great pity.”
“It would have been fitting for the Arabs of Israel to learn to join that large segment of Israeli society that wants peace and brotherhood, instead of creating estrangement like this at such a historic and painful time. It would have been an opportunity for them to express their solidarity with that segment of Israeli society that extends its hand to them,” he added.
Since Peres’ death, not a single MK from the Arab Joint List has expressed condolences. MK Basel Ghattas, who had even attacked Peres when he was first hospitalized, refused to comment when asked why he doesn’t address Peres’ death.
The Head of the Joint List Ayman Odeh dismissed this morning on Army Radio the criticism of his party for refusing to participate in Peres’ funeral.
“There’s a completely different political approach,” he said. “Complex messages can be conveyed at a more opportune time.”
“In the 1990s, Peres’ initiative led to the greater legitimacy of the Arab population within Israeli politics, and that is something that can be said to his merit,” Odeh said. “Another no less important thing is [the Oslo Accords].”
Nevertheless, Odeh emphasized, “I am not a participant in the ruckus around Peres. I am very respectful, but I chose to be quiet in this period. I will not participate in Peres’ funeral. I am not a participant in all the ruckus about the [Dimona] nuclear reactor, about the year 1948 and about [his] cooperation with [David] Ben-Gurion.”