Anyone who was under the impression that the sole purpose of President Shimon
Peres’ visit to the United States next week is to receive the Freedom Medal from
President Barack Obama is mistaken. Yes, Peres also hopes to obtain the freedom
of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, who is an Israeli citizen, but the president
has a lot more than that on his agenda.
Peres, who last traveled to the
US in March, is scheduled to leave Israel on Saturday night and will be in
America from June 10-15. His round of meetings begins in New York on Sunday, and
then he will meet with top ranking representatives of the US media.
Monday, he will fly to Washington and will tour the Pentagon, where he will be
welcomed by a military honor guard. Following the welcome, Peres, who is a
former defense minister, and the key architect of Israel’s defense
establishment, will have working meetings with Secretary of Defense Leon
Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and heads of
the various branches of the armed forces.
Peres will discuss
strengthening of the strategic political and defense alliance between Israel and
On Tuesday Peres will meet with Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton. Long standing friends, the two will participate in a panel discussion
on democracy under the aegis of the Saban Forum. The discussion, in the presence
of some 200 major political figures, will be moderated by Martin Indyk a former
US ambassador to Israel who is currently vice president and director for foreign
policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Wednesday is Freedom
Medal Day, but Peres will also have a presentation to make to Obama – the
exchange of letters between Chaim Weizmann and Harry Truman at the dawn of the
establishment of the State of Israel.
The presentation ceremony will be
followed by a festive dinner at the White House.
On Thursday, Peres will
meet with leading politicians in Washington and will also have a series of
meetings with the media throughout the day. If he is successful in persuading
Obama to release Pollard, the focus of his media interviews will be less on Iran
and more on Pollard who has been incarcerated for 27 years. In the evening Peres
will be the guest of honor at a reception hosted by Israel Ambassador Michael
Oren who met with Peres less than a month ago when he was in Israel for the
visit by US Secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
return to Israel on Friday. On June 19, the President’s Conference Facing
Tomorrow opens; The Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Steve Linde will moderate one
of the panels.