Israeli President Shimon Peres to give President Obama medal
'Barack Obama is a true friend of the State of Israel,' the statement from Peres read. | AP Photo
By KATIE GLUECK | 2/18/13 12:13 PM EST
President Barack Obama will be the first sitting American president to receive Israel's Presidential Medal of Distinction, the office of Israeli President Shimon Peres announced on Monday.
"It will be the first time in history that a serving president of the United States of America will receive an award of this kind from the president of the State of Israel," the office said in a statement, according to the Israeli publication The Times of Israel.
The announcement comes ahead of Obama's first presidential trip to the Jewish state next month, when he is set to receive the award. While Obama has had a turbulent relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — the two leaders have clashed over settlements, among other issues — Obama and Peres have often demonstrated signs of a warm relationship, with the American president offering the Israeli president the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year.
"Barack Obama is a true friend of the State of Israel, and has been since the beginning of his public life," the statement from Peres read, according to the Times of Israel. "As president of the United States of America, he has stood with Israel in times of crisis. During his time as president he has made a unique contribution to the security of the State of Israel, both through further strengthening the strategic cooperation between the countries and through the joint development of technology to defend against rockets and terrorism."
The Israeli president's website also prominently features a picture of the two leaders embracing.