Allies and Rivals come together to Mourn Shimon Peres at his Funeral

MOUNT HERZL, Israel — From across the ocean and across the Green Line, they came on Friday to this mountaintop sanctuary to bid farewell to Shimon Peres, who did as much as anyone to build modern Israel and then became its leading advocate of peace.

President Obama headlined a cast of prominent eulogists set to praise Mr. Peres for his commitment to coexistence with the Palestinians and, in some cases, to call for a renewed dedication to realizing that dream.

“Your death is a great personal and national loss because it is an end of an era, the end of the era of giants whose life stories are the stories of the Zionist movement and the state of Israel,” President Reuven Rivlin said, addressing the late Mr. Peres. “This is the deep sense that we all share today, that a chapter in the history of our nation has come to an end.”

One part state funeral, one part peace conference, the service seemed a moment of transition for a country that has drifted away from Mr. Peres’s vision.

The funeral at Mount Herzl, the national cemetery, brought together Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, something no mediator has been able to do in recent years.

Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas, who have not formally met in six years, shook hands here, as they did last year when they spoke on the sidelines of a climate conference in Paris. But the momentary pause in their war of words seemed unlikely to last beyond the interment.

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The gathering resembled those of other world figures who transcended international boundaries, like Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul II, drawing leaders and diplomats from around the world.

Joining Mr. Obama from the United States was former President Bill Clinton, who hosted Mr. Peres in 1993 for the signing of the Oslo Accords, which were supposed to inaugurate an era of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Also scheduled to attend were President François Hollande of France, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico, Prince Charles and former Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, and King Felipe VI of Spain. Among others expected were the leaders of Australia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland and Sweden.

Despite Mr. Netanyahu’s speech at the United Nations last week hailing what he called his country’s improving relations with Arab neighbors, none sent a head of state, not even Egypt and Jordan, the two with peace treaties with Israel.

Mr. Abbas’s decision to come to a cemetery named for the founder of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl, angered many Palestinians, who criticized him for honoring an enemy. It was a delicate issue on the other side, as well, as Israeli officials debated overnight whether to seat him in the front row. Ultimately they did, but he was not expected to have a speaking role.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry was expected to come from Egypt, however, and Bahrain, Jordan and Oman were to send representatives.

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Guards brought in the coffin of Shimon Peres, the former Israeli leader, at the Mount Herzl national cemetery on Friday. CreditAriel Schalit/Associated Press

Mr. Peres, who died this week at 93, about two weeks after a severe stroke, embodied the development of the Israeli state.

A protégé of David Ben-Gurion, the founding prime minister, Mr. Peres had a role in most of Israel’s major moments from its independence in 1948. He served as prime minister, foreign minister, defense minister and, until two years ago, president.

A longtime security hawk, he helped build the nation’s military and was instrumental in the development of its nuclear program. Critics, especially Palestinians, castigate him even now for promoting the construction of settlements in the territories seized in the Arab-Israeli war of 1967 and for launching the military operations that led to civilian deaths.

But he was remembered on Friday mainly for his pursuit of peace, as the foreign minister who negotiated and signed the Oslo agreement setting out a framework for resolving the long-running conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

He shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The accord included formal recognition between Israel and the P.L.O. and established the Palestinian Authority as a provisional government, with the expectation that the two sides would resolve further points of contention over the next five years.

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But the process ultimately stalled, and while Oslo still governs the tense relationship between the two as Israel continues to occupy the West Bank, many view the agreement as a failure. Mr. Obama tried twice to restart talks, in vain, and is contemplating laying out his own proposed parameters for peace before leaving office in January.

About 4,000 people were expected to gather under a giant tent on a cloudless morning here at Mount Herzl overlooking Jerusalem.

Photographs of Mr. Peres over the course of his long life were displayed on jumbo screens. Security was tight as 8,000 police officers flooded Jerusalem and closed streets.

Among those scheduled to speak before Mr. Obama were Mr. Netanyahu; Mr. Clinton; Mr. Rivlin, Mr. Peres’s successor as president, a largely ceremonial post; and Yuli Edelstein, the speaker of Parliament.

David D’Or, a famous Israeli countertenor, was to sing “Avinu Malkeinu,” a Jewish prayer traditionally recited at the time of the Jewish holidays, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, which are about to start.

The author Amos Oz will also speak, as will Mr. Peres’s three children, Tsvia Walden, Yoni Peres and Nehemia Peres, who goes by Chemi and has been the family spokesman in recent weeks. Mr. Peres’s wife, Sonya, died in 2011.

After the service, the body was to be interred and 14 wreaths were to be laid. For a man who made a legacy of bridging divides, there will be one final act of reconciliation: Mr. Peres will be buried between two onetime rivals, Mr. Rabin and another former prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir.