Hussein Funeral Draws Old Foes

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AMMAN: In death as in life, King Hussein brought together old foes. "There's never been an event like this in the Middle East," says TIME Middle East bureau chief Scott MacLeod, reporting from King Hussein's funeral. "It was an unprecedented gathering of Arab and Israeli leaders together with senior representatives of most of the world's governments." The biggest surprise was the attendance of Syria's President Hafez Assad, whose relationship with King Hussein had been strained in recent years. "Assad wasn't expected, and his attendance was a signal of goodwill and perhaps of a renewed interest in pursuing regional harmony," says MacLeod. Syrian-Israeli peace efforts have foundered since the death of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

High-level delegations from the Gulf States, which had been at odds with Jordan since the Gulf War, signaled the diplomatic abilities of Jordan's new king, Abdullah: In recent years, King Hussein had made Abdullah responsible for mending relations with those countries. But the most extraordinary image was that of Nayef Hawatmeh -- Damascus-based leader of a Palestinian faction fiercely opposed to the Oslo Accords -- shaking hands and making nice with Israel's President Ezer Weizman. King Hussein would have smiled.