Israelis flock to Knesset to pay tribute to Peres

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli citizens flocked to the Knesset to pay their respects to the country’s ninth president Shimon Peres.

Peres body is lying in state at the Knesset all day Thursday, ahead of his funeral scheduled for Friday. Thousands of Israelis are expected to view the casket at the Knesset.

Prior to opening the viewing to the public, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein and opposition leader Isaac Herzog lay wreaths beside the coffin in a private ceremony.

Peres died early Wednesday at the age of 93, two weeks after suffering a massive stroke.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton arrived on Thursday morning and asked to be taken directly to the Knesset to pay his respects. He arrived without his wife, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Despite reports Wednesday which originated with the Foreign Ministry that the candidate also would come to Israel for Peres’ funeral, the Clinton campaign told news outlets late Wednesday that she would not attend. Republican nominee Donald Trump also is not planning to attend the funeral.

Some 80 world leaders were expected to arrive in Israel between Thursday and the funeral on Friday morning.