Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Thursday awarded President Biden the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest tribute.
The Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor is bestowed on individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to Israel or humanity. It has been awarded to 26 people since it was initiated in 2012.
“You have been a faithful, lifelong friend of the state of Israel and the Jewish people. Your tireless advocacy of the enduring U.S.-Israel partnership in word and in deed has withstood the test of time,” Mr. Herzog told Mr. Biden at a ceremony in Jerusalem.
The event was among Mr. Biden’s last in Israel before he heads to the West Bank and Saudi Arabia as part of his four-day visit to the Middle East.
Mr. Biden is the first person to receive the award since 2014. Past recipients include former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Mr. Obama is the only other U.S. president to receive the honor while still in office.
Speaking to a crowd of roughly 100 people, Mr. Biden called the award one of the “greatest honors of his career.” He spoke about his visit to Israel in 1973 when he was a senator from Delaware.
“Seeing Israel thrive. Seeing the wildest dreams of Israel’s founding fathers and mothers growing into the reality that the Israeli children enjoy today, to me, is miraculous,” he said. “I see people who are growing more secure, more integrated, and more confident and have greater relations with their neighbors.”
Mr. Biden also reaffirmed the U.S.’s “iron clad” commitment to Israel’s security within the region.
“That commitment is not about me or any other American president,” he said. “It springs from a deep affinity and an enduring connection between our people and it is our responsibility as leaders to nurture that bond. To ensure that it grows stronger, deeper, and broader as we navigate the challenges ahead.”