Washington: President Barack Obama announced
Sunday that he was bestowing America`s highest civilian award,
the presidential medal of freedom, upon Israeli President
Shimon Peres, for his "moral example."
"Shimon once described the story of the Jewish people by
saying it proved that, `slings, arrows and gas chambers can
annihilate man, but cannot destroy human values, dignity, and
freedom`," Obama said during a keynote address to a pro-Israel
lobby group in Washington, speaking after the Israeli leader.
"He has lived those values. He has taught us to ask more
of ourselves, and to empathise more with our fellow human
beings. I am grateful for his life`s work and his moral
Obama said the award would be presented to the
88-year-old Peres, a two-time former Israeli prime minister
who also served once as interim prime minister, later this
spring at the White House.
Peres first served as Israeli prime minister in 1977
after the resignation of Yitzhak Rabin, and has been a
tireless advocate for peace with the Palestinians, enduring
years of criticism even from his own Labor Party.
As foreign minister he initiated the negotiations that
led to the 1993 Oslo Accords -- the framework for future peace
drives with the Palestinians -- and completed a hard-won peace
treaty with Jordan.
Peres shared the 1994 Nobel Price for Peace with
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Rabin for his work on the