Israeli President Shimon Peres opened the American Israel Public Affairs annual policy conference with a warm endorsement of fellow Nobel laureate Barack Obama "for being a good friend" of Israel and reminded the audience of the longstanding bipartisan commitment of American presidents to Israel's well being.
"Mr. President, I know your commitment to Israel is deep and profound," Peres said. "And under your leadership, security cooperation between the United States and Israel reached its highest level."
Obama, who followed Peres to the podium, called the Israeli elder statesman a "powerful moral voice" and got a standing ovation when he announced he will invite him to the White House this spring "to present him with America's highest civilian honor – the presidential Medal of Freedom.
"This award is a symbol of the broader ties that bind our nation," Obama said.
Peres got an enthusiastic welcome from the highly energized audience when he told them, "The United States and Israel share the same goal: prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. There is no space between us."
He called the Iranian government an "evil, cruel, morally corrupt regime" and said peace between Israel and the Palestinians is "a nightmare for Iran."
The enthusiasm that greeted his tough talk about Iran was noticeably subdued when Peres spoke of making peace. "Palestinians are our neighbors for life. Peace can and must be achieved. A peace based on the two-state solution," he said.