The last U.S. president to go to Israel for a state funeral was Bill Clinton 20 years ago, when the prospects for peace in the Middle East seemed nearly within reach.
On Friday, President Obama, who made a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a central part of his foreign policy, joined other world leaders in Jerusalem to mourn another Israeli leader.
Rarely has peace seemed more distant or unattainable.
The funeral for former Israel president and prime minister Shimon Peres, 93, is drawing leaders from around the globe. They are gathering to celebrate the life of one of Israel’s founders but also to mourn the Jewish leader most closely identified with a “two-state solution” to the decades-long conflict between Arabs and Jews.