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Hamas calls Peres a criminal, Abbas hails him as brave

A picture taken on May 22, 2016 shows Israeli President Shimon Peres welcoming the French prime minister before at the Peres Centre for Peace in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv. Israeli ex-president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres died on September 28, 2016 some two weeks after suffering a major stroke, triggering an outpouring of grief for the beloved elder statesman / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ

A picture taken on May 22, 2016 shows Israeli President Shimon Peres welcoming the French prime minister before at the Peres Centre for Peace in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv.<br />Israeli ex-president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres died on September 28, 2016 some two weeks after suffering a major stroke, triggering an outpouring of grief for the beloved elder statesman / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ

Hamas welcomed the death of former Israeli president Shimon Peres Wednesday, calling him a “criminal”, while Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas lauded the “brave” Nobel Peace Prize winner.

In the Gaza Strip, a spokesman for the Islamist Hamas movement which runs the enclave said: “The Palestinian people are happy at the death of this criminal.

“Shimon Peres was one of the last Israeli founders of occupation. His death marks the end of an era in the history of the Israeli occupation,” spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP.

But Abbas had a sharply different reaction in the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority dominated by his Fatah party is in power.

Abbas hailed Peres as a “brave” partner for peace and sent his family condolences, the official Palestinian news agency reported.

“Abbas sent a message of condolence to the family of former president Shimon Peres, expressing his sadness and sorrow,” WAFA reported.

“Peres was a partner in making the brave peace with the martyr Yasser Arafat and prime minister (Yitzhak) Rabin, and made unremitting efforts to reach a lasting peace from the Oslo agreement until the final moments of his life.”

While Peres has been praised abroad and in Israel as a peacemaker, many Palestinians view him very differently, citing his involvement in successive Arab-Israeli wars and the occupation of Palestinian territory.

He was also prime minister in 1996 when more than 100 civilians were killed while sheltering at a UN peacekeepers’ base in the Lebanese village of Qana fired upon by Israel.

Diana Buttu, former spokeswoman for the Palestinian Authority, tweeted: “Peres was an unrepentant war criminal. Revisionist history won’t work.”



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