February 20, 2014
President Shimon Peres will award Israel’s highest civilian medal to German Chancellor Angela Merkel next week for her “unwavering commitment to Israel’s security, advocacy of education against anti-Semitism and outstanding moral leadership.”
Merkel will receive the Presidential Medal of Distinction at a special ceremony to be held Tuesday afternoon at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.
She arrives in Israel on Monday for consultations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following reports that relations between Israel and Germany are at an all-time low.
Peres and Merkel are expected to make speeches as part of the event, after which they will meet privately to discuss the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, the Iranian nuclear program and Israel-German relations.
Peres and the advisory committee that decided to bestow the honor upon Merkel said she has not only strengthened the ties between Israel and Germany, but also unequivocally stood by Israel amid international campaigns of de-legitimization against it.
“Angela Merkel is a diplomat endowed with a long-term vision,” the committee wrote. “Her unique character and honesty captured hearts the world over. She is a woman whose values inspire hope and whose actions are awe-inspiring.”
The Presidential Medal of Distinction is conferred on individuals who have made “an outstanding contribution to the State of Israel or to humanity, through their talents, services, or in any other form.”
Previous recipients include U.S. President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, conductor Zubin Mehta and author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.