News / Middle East

Obama Awards Peres Medal of Freedom

U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Israeli President Shimon Peres in the East Room of the White House in Washington, June 13, 2012.
U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Israeli President Shimon Peres in the East Room of the White House in Washington, June 13, 2012.
The White House - It was the latest of many visits Shimon Peres has made to the White House over the decades, but a highly symbolic one for a veteran Israeli leader whose career spans seven decades and whose views about the Middle East have been respected by U.S. presidents.

Peres served twice as prime minister of Israel.  In 1994, he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Yitzhak Rabin, and then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for Middle East peace efforts.

Peres was unable to come to the White House a few weeks ago to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which President Obama also awarded to 12 others.  

Peres got the award for his devotion to peace and his support for the U.S. - Israel alliance.  President Obama praised him as an "indomitable spirit" who spent his life working for peace and to strengthen the U.S. - Israel security relationship.

"Shimon knows the necessity of strength.  As Ben-Gurion said, “an Israel capable of defending herself-which cannot be destroyed-can bring peace nearer,” said Obama. "And so he’s worked with every American President since John F. Kennedy.  And it’s why I’ve worked with Prime Minister Netanyahu to ensure that the security cooperation between the United States and Israel is closer and stronger than it has ever been.  Because the security of the State of Israel is non-negotiable.  And the bonds between us are unbreakable."

Obama described Peres as someone who knows that peace must not only be sought but pursued.  Peres, he said, made the pursuit of peace, security and dignity for Israelis, Palestinians, and Israel's Arab neighbors a cause of his life.

"Shimon to all of our friends here tonight, and to our fellow citizens across America and Israel, may we never lose sight of our destination.  Shalom, and may we always be as young as our dreams.   L'chaim," toasted President Obama.

President Peres called peace between Israel and Palestinians "more urgent than ever before" warning that delay could worsen its chances.  He said "extremists are using the Israel-Palestinian conflict to "cover their true ambitions."

Peres said Iran has become a threat because of a leadership he said "aims to rule the Middle East" by spreading terror and trying to build a nuclear bomb.

"We have a solemn responsibility to our own people, to our friends throughout the world, to posterity, that the Iranian threat must be stopped and it cannot be delayed," he said. "Mr. President, you worked so hard to build a world coalition to meet this immediate threat. You started rightly with economic sanctions, you made it clear rightly again that all options are on the table.  Clearly we support you."

On the Arab Spring, Peres praised a young Arab generation that he said has "opened its eyes to stand up against oppression, poverty and corruption to seek freedom."

There was no official readout from the White House on Oval Office talks President Peres and President Obama had hours earlier.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz said Iran, Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and Mideast developments were discussed.  

Haaretz also reported that President Peres asked President Obama to grant clemency to Jonathan Pollard, who was convicted of spying for Israel in 1986.  Pollard has served 27 years of a 30 year sentence.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters earlier that there had been no change in the U.S. position on Pollard.

Among those attending the East Room ceremony:  Former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Also, Dalia Rabin, daughter of Yitzhak Rabin who was assassinated in 1995 by a Jewish extremist who opposed the Oslo Accords.

You May Like

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Michael from: USA
June 15, 2012 9:13 AM
God bless VOA. It is terrible to say in regard to the upcoming Iran nuclear meeting, but nuclear science does not square with the Koran.
The Israeli's are aware of this conflict between science (linear) and the religious Koran (a Divine download)


by: Jack from: NC
June 14, 2012 3:55 PM
Wow, I don't hate Obama, even voted for him, but damn, this reeks of election year BS... Think Romney is going to attack you on Foreign Policy...just leak that you kill hundreds of terrorists and personally order every killing and give the Israeli President the highest award you can possibly give...


by: Being fair from: America
June 14, 2012 1:36 PM
Yitzhak Rabin should be awarded as well, through his family. He did a tremendous work.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jane Monheit Christmas Speciali
X
December 22, 2014 8:15 PM
Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Trade Talks Could Heat Up in 2015

With boosting trade a top priority for the Obama administration, 2015 may be the year that an agreement is finally reached on the Trans Pacific Partnership. But the trade deal, which is intended to boost trade between 12 Pacific countries, faces opposition as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school

All About America

AppleAndroid