Obama to host WH dinner for Peres, award Presidential Medal of Freedom
June 9, 2012 2 Comments
By Lauren Appelbaum, Political Director
Washington, June 9 – President Obama will award Israeli President Shimon Peres the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a White House dinner Wednesday, June 13. Obama announced Peres would receive the award at the AIPAC conference in March. The Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor bestowed by a U.S. President.
Announced guests are said to include former U.S. presidents, secretaries of states and other senior diplomats, as well as senior figures from the arts, culture and economic spheres. First Lady Michelle Obama also will attend the dinner.
The White House described Peres as “an ardent advocate for Israel’s security and for peace.”
Shimon Peres was elected the ninth President of Israel in 2007. First elected to the Knesset in 1959, he has served in a variety of positions throughout the Israeli government, including in twelve Cabinets as Foreign Minister, Minister of Defense, and Minister of Transport and Communications. Peres served as Prime Minister from 1984-1986 and 1995-1996. Along with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and then-PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, Peres won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for his work as Foreign Minister during the Middle East peace talks that led to the Oslo Accords. Through his life and work, he has strengthened the unbreakable bonds between Israel and the United States.
During the same week, Peres also is scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and participate in a discussion with her on Tuesday that is hosted by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. On Thursday Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren is scheduled to host a reception for Peres at his Washington residence. Peres also is scheduled to meet with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey.
It is expected Peres will give Obama “a collection of historic documents, including a letter from Chaim Weizmann urging President Harry Truman to recognize the State of Israel; a short letter signed by Truman, in which he recognized Israel’s first government; and a missive from David Ben-Gurion, thanking Truman for recognizing Israel’s provisional government.” It also is expected that Peres will give Mrs. Obama a special necklace created from “uniquely Israeli materials,” made by people with disabilities.