November 5, 1995
Web posted at: 8:15 p.m. EST (0115 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. President Bill Clinton left Sunday afternoon for Israel, where he will join dozens of other heads of state for the funeral of slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Two former presidents, George Bush and Jimmy Carter, have accepted Clinton's invitation to travel with him aboard Air Force One. Former Secretary of State George Schultz will attend the funeral on behalf of former president Ronald Reagan.
Before leaving Washington, the president and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton signed a book of condolences at the Israeli embassy.
"Prime Minister Rabin gave his life to Israel," the president wrote, "first as a soldier for its freedom, then finally as a martyr for its lasting peace. For his example, his friendship to the United States, and his warm friendship to me, I am eternally grateful."
The First Lady wrote, "God bless Prime Minister Rabin, the people of Israel and all who take risks for peace."
White House officials said Clinton will pay his respects at the Knesset, where Rabin's body lies in state. Afterward, he will call on Rabin's widow, Leah. The president will deliver brief remarks following Monday's funeral at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl Cemetary.
The U.S. delegation also will include Clinton administration officials and members of Congress. The president invited former President Gerald Ford and former first lady Nancy Reagan, instead of Ronald Reagan because of his illness, but neither could make the trip.
The president signed a proclamation Saturday that ordered flags to fly at half staff at U.S. government, military and ambassadorial buildings as a sign of respect for Rabin and the peace process. The flags will remain at half staff until the burial.
The president was informed of the shooting in a telephone call from his national security adviser, Anthony Lake, at 3:23 p.m. EDT. At 4 p.m. Lake told Clinton in person at the White House residence that Rabin had died.
Just before 5 p.m., Clinton had a short conversation with Mrs. Rabin, and soon after spoke with acting Prime Minister Simon Peres. The president said that both Mrs. Rabin and Peres told him that they had never seen the Prime Minister happier than he was at the peace rally just before the shooting. Peres and Mrs. Rabin said they found some consolation in knowing those were his last memories, McCurry said.
U.S. delegation attending the funeral.
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