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The BBC's Jeremy Cooke
"Today this troubled country appeared united in mourning"
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BBC Middle East analyst Roger Hardy
"In the current climate it's hard to envisage a return to serious peacemaking"
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Wednesday, 15 November, 2000, 15:23 GMT
Israel buries Leah Rabin
Mourners pay their last respects to Mrs Rabin in Tel Aviv
Thousands flocked to Tel Aviv to pay their last respects
Thousands of mourners have paid their last respects to Leah Rabin, the widow of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

World dignitaries, including US First Lady Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, joined senior Israeli political figures for the funeral in Tel Aviv.

Leah Rabin
Leah Rabin became a political figure in her own right
Mrs Rabin, who died of lung cancer on Sunday aged 72, was an outspoken campaigner for Middle East peace and, after her husband's death in 1995, became a significant political figure in her own right.

Her plain wooden coffin, draped in the Israeli flag, was carried into the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, where it was buried next to her husband's grave in a solemn and simple ceremony.

Members of her family spent Wednesday morning leading mourners in an outdoor memorial service ahead of the burial.

Thousands of Israelis - religious and secular, old and young - flocked to pay their last respects to Mrs Rabin in Tel Aviv, where her coffin lay in state on the spot where her husband was shot dead.

She was a soldier for peace

Israeli mourner
"She was a soldier for peace," said one tearful mourner.

Correspondents said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who visited Mrs Rabin in her home to pay his condolences after her husband's murder, had been encouraged not to attend.

'Lady of stone'

As Israel's Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin was architect of the Middle East peace process which he and the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, hoped and believed could bring an end to decades of conflict between their peoples.

Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat
As Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin was architect of the Middle East peace process
When Mr Rabin was assassinated by a right-wing Jew in 1995, Mrs Rabin became standard-bearer for those Israelis who shared the dream of peace and the belief that the Oslo accords represented the foundation of a negotiated settlement.

Dubbed the "lady of stone", she was frequently a controversial figure who did little to endear herself to the country's right-wing or religious parties.

But to her supporters she became a symbol of hope, even in these last few weeks, which have seen so much violence and death in renewed fighting between Israelis and Palestinians.

Mrs Rabin's influence was perhaps even more notable outside Israel than at home.

She frequently took her message overseas and was regarded by many as an important player in Middle East politics.

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See also:

08 Sep 00 | Middle East
Leah Rabin slams Barak
12 Nov 00 | PROFILES
Profile: Yitzhak Rabin
14 Nov 00 | Middle East
Leah Rabin: Israeli figurehead
12 Nov 00 | Middle East
Leah Rabin dies of cancer
15 Nov 00 | Middle East
In pictures: Rabin funeral
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