Israel’s President Shimon Peres has been celebrating his 90th birthday with a series of events marking his contribution to the country.
The political career of Polish-born Peres spans six decades. He has served twice as prime minister of Israel.
He is credited with starting the country’s nuclear program and was closely involved with the early creation of Jewish communities in the West Bank.
He went on to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
In 1994, a year after the signing of the Oslo Accords, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Israel’s then-Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin and then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Although he was not popular during much of his political career, Israelis have built up a deep affection for him that has been widely expressed during nearly six years as Israel’s president.
Among the gifts he received was a bipartisan vote in the US Congress to award him the Congressional Gold Medal. It and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which Peres received in June 2012, are the highest civilian awards in the United States. It is awarded to persons “who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient’s field long after the achievement.” Peres will be the first sitting president of Israel to receive this award.