<img src='http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1543379.1386700910!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/south-africa-Mandela-memorial.jpg’ width=’200px’ alt=’Helle Thorning-Schmidt (left) jokes with Obama during the service Tuesday, as first lady Michelle Obama paid attention to the proceedings. ‘ style=’float:left;padding:5px’ />
24, 2012. Laura Bush is also on Twitter but did not post any updates to the website. After the memorial service ended, the Obamas and Bushes boarded Air Force One to return to the U.S. Kiichiro Sato/AP Obama cracks a smile mingling with the Danish Prime Minister at the 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago. They were in South Africa for less than 13 hours.
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Mandela funeral: The ‘world is coming’
Later Monday, Israel said parliament Speaker Yuli Edelstein would lead a small delegation of lawmakers to the funeral. Bradley Burston, a commentator at the liberal daily Haaretz, said Netanyahu’s decision sent a bad message. “My Israel, which so craves and demands legitimacy and recognition as a full partner in the community of nations, does not consider a man like Nelson Mandela, or a nation like South Africa, or the sentiment of an entire world, worth the price of a plane flight,” he wrote. But the deeper issue may have been Netanyahu’s shaky reputation on the world stage, particularly among the dozens of leaders from the developing world who will be in attendance, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Netanyahu is widely viewed as a hard-liner whose support for Jewish settlements in occupied lands is not conducive to peace. While Netanyahu venerated Mandela last week as one of “the greatest figures of our time,” Israel’s relations with post-apartheid South Africa have been strained.
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Israeli Leader Backs out of Mandela Funeral
Despite the sudden influx of international dignitaries and the compressed preparation time, National Police spokesman Solomon Makgale insisted that the security apparatus could cope. “Having so many heads of state is not a security headache for us. We’ve learned over the years,” Makgale said, adding that they would be “working closely” with the foreign leaders’ own security details. As well as Obama and three previous occupants of the White House, British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande and Afghan President Hamid Karzai were all on the guest list. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who was among the first to arrive, visited the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg where he paid handsome tribute to a “giant for justice” whose “mighty life” touched millions. Parliament met in special session Monday, with MPs carrying single red roses as they entered the assembly building that was flanked by giant portraits of Mandela in tribal dress and as an elder statesman. Opposition leader Helen Zille said every politician had a duty to carry forward Mandela’s ideals of justice and equality for all. “He has handed the baton to us and we dare not drop it,” Zille said.
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