London – Margaret Thatcher was laid to rest Wednesday with prayers and ceremony, plus cheers and occasional jeers, as Britain paused to remember a leader who transformed the country – for the better according to many, but in some eyes for the worse.
Soaring hymns, Biblical verse and fond remembrances echoed under the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, as 2,300 relatives, friends, colleagues and dignitaries attended a ceremonial funeral for Britain’s only female prime minister.
Queen Elizabeth II, current and former prime ministers and representatives from 170 countries were among the mourners packing the cathedral, where Bishop of London Richard Chartres spoke of the strong feelings Thatcher still evokes 23 years after leaving office.
“There is an important place for debating policies and legacy … but here and today is neither the time nor the place,” he said.
Security for the funeral – the largest in London for more than a decade – was tightened after bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday. More than 700 soldiers, sailors and air force personnel formed a ceremonial guard along the route taken by Thatcher’s coffin to the cathedral, and around 4,000 police officers were on duty.
Kerry sees urgency on 2-state solution
Washington – Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress on Wednesday that any chance of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by creating a separate Palestinian state may be lost in two years.
The unusually specific prediction was intended to highlight Kerry’s urgency in trying to encourage peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
“The window for the two-state solution is shutting,” he said. “I think we have some period of time, a year and a half or two years, or it’s over.”
Some Arab officials and peace advocates have warned that continuing Jewish construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the international community views as illegal, and other factors, would one day make it impossible to create a viable Palestinian state. But specific predictions have been rare from U.S. officials.
Kerry’s warning emphasized the pressure on Israelis and Palestinians, but also on the Obama administration. During a trip to Jerusalem in March, President Barack Obama called upon Israelis to embrace a Palestinian state to guarantee their nation’s future.