Israel has sent a set of Knesset members as representative at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in South Africa today.
Rumors swirled yesterday that neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or President Shimon Peres would make the trip, reportedly due to the high cost of travel for Netanyahu and medical reasons for Peres.
Instead, six MK’s made the trek to honor the anti-apartheid leader that died last Thursday at the age of 95.
The Israeli brigade was made up of Dov Lipman, Penina Tamanu-Shata, Nitzan Horowitz, Gima Gamliel and Hilik Bar, as well as Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who led the delegation.
“I am glad that ultimately the State of Israel will have representatives at this important event,” Edelstein posted to his Facebook page. Edelstein also commented on Mandela’s famous 27-years in prison. The Knesset speaker himself served in a Soviet prison from 1984 to 1985.
“As a former prisoner of conscience, I had the privilege of meeting Mandela as a minister in ’96 during which we shared our experiences in prison and the struggle for our rights and therefore, from my perspective, there is a sort of closure here.”
“He fought first for equality and justice for his people in South Africa,” said MK Bar, “afterward also for equality and justice in the rest of the world, and in the end one can say he fought also for justice and peace here in the Middle East, between us and the Palestinians.”
“History will remember Madiba as an honorable man who fought for freedom, equality, justice, reconciliation and peace,” added Lipman.
An estimated 91 world leaders were set to attend Tuesday’s service, including US President Barack Obama, all living American presidents, and UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon.