Vice Premier Shimon Peres has accepted the request of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to head the Israeli delegation which will represent Israel at the presidential funeral of former US President Gerald Ford who passed away last week. Peres and President Ford knew each other personally throughout their political careers.
Political sources in Israel said that placing the most senior government official after the prime minister at the head of the Israeli delegation is meant to emphasize the special and close relationship with Israel’s closest ally, the United States.
Ford served as President of the United States right after the 1973 Yom Kippur war when Peres served as defense minister under the government of Yizhak Rabin. President Ford was largely responsible during those days for the rehabilitation of the IDF after the bloody war, including the restocking of the IDF’s reserve equipment and providing Israel with new and technologically advanced weaponry.
Prime Minister Olmert eulogized President Ford during Sunday’s cabinet meeting and said that “the Government of Israel sends its condolences to the American people, to US President George Bush and to the Ford family."