President Shimon Peres will be unable to be present at the funeral on Sunday of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, killed in a plane crash last Saturday along with other members of the Polish elite, because he is committed to attending state ceremonies for Israel’s fallen soldiers.

Kaczynski’s funeral will be held in Krakow on Sunday.

Notified of the date and time, Peres’s office explored various flight schedules that might have afforded him the opportunity to pay his last respects, but there was no way a regular commercial flight could have got him to Krakow and back in time to attend the opening ceremony of Remembrance Day for the Fallen.

It was initially thought that Peres could continue from France to Poland, following the dedication last Thursday of the Ben-Gurion Promenade and his meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy. However, the plan proved unfeasible.


Kaczynski was regarded as a great friend of Israel, whose leadership and friendship – not to mention his contribution to perpetuating the memory of the Holocaust and to eradicating anti-Semitism in Poland – have been noted by Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and others. Reports at the end of last week suggested that the Polish president’s funeral might be delayed because ash clouds from a volcanic eruption in Iceland might prevent other world leaders from flying to Poland.

If the funeral is moved to midweek – by which time thousands of disrupted flight schedules should be restored – Peres may attend.

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