JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel laid to rest Abba Eban on Monday, the Cambridge-trained orator who helped persuade the world to recognize the Jewish state and guide its diplomacy during its perilous first three decades.
Eban, Israel's first U.N. ambassador, was buried Monday in Kfar Shmaryahu cemetery in Tel Aviv, a day after he died at the age of 87. President Moshe Katsav, Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Prime Minister Shimon Peres delivered eulogies.
"It's impossible to consider the establishment of Israel, without his exceptional, unique, contribution," Peres told Israel Radio earlier.
As foreign minister, Eban presented Israel's case to the world during the 1967 and 1973 wars with the Arabs. At home, he advocated returning Arab lands captured in 1967 in return for peace.
"He showed the absurdity of the attacks against Israel," Netanyahu said in his eulogy. "He had wit, he had acerbity, he had an infinite desire for peace, for his people and his land."
Eban was known for his dovish views about Israel-Arab relations. Yitzhak Herzog, a nephew who served as Israeli Cabinet secretary, said Eban "was a pragmatist who believed in pragmatism on the one hand and the need to talk and talk and talk, and on the other hand, to stand firm on the basic principles of Israeli defense and foreign affairs."
The tall, heavy-jowled Eban spoke 10 languages, had an academic bearing and was usually seen in public in three-piece suits, contrasting with the open-shirted, sunburned Israeli pioneers, many of them ex-military commanders, who led the country through its first half-century. Widely admired abroad, Eban never really took off at home, spending his last years in the political wilderness.
A dove at heart, Eban was often at odds with Israeli leaders. He believed Israel should negotiate peace in exchange for the territories it captured, while successive governments built Jewish settlements there instead.
Yet he was just as critical of the Arab leadership. He once said that the Arabs "never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity" to make peace with Israel.
In 1973, with his country facing possible defeat in another war, he helped persuade the U.S. administration of President Richard Nixon to carry out an emergency airlift of weapons and supplies to Israel.
As his political career wound down, Eban turned to lecturing and public appearances.
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