Israel to award Obama medal

February 19, 2013

When he travels to Israel next month, President Obama will be given the country's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Distinction.

The medal honors Obama's “unique and significant contribution to strengthening the State of Israel and the security of its citizens," according to Israeli President Simon Peres' spokesperson.

The official statement called Obama "a true friend of the State of Israel" and noted the administration's support for the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Peres last year. The Presidential Medal of Distinction was created by Peres in 2011, when the first awards were given out. Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger was among the first group of honorees, along with Israeli conductor Zubin Mehta.

The March trip will be Obama's first visit to Israel since taking office.

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Zachary A. Goldfarb | February 19, 2013