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Israel to award Obama prestigious medal in visit

Israel will award President Barack Obama the country's Presidential Medal of Distinction during his upcoming visit.

Israeli President Shimon Peres' office said Monday that Obama will be recognized for his "unique and significant contribution to strengthening the State of Israel and the security of its citizens."

Obama is scheduled to visit Israel in March -- his first as president.

Obama has often had a tense relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the Jewish state's West Bank settlement policies and the lack of peace process with the Palestinians.

But Peres and the committee behind the award noted Obama's overall friendship and backing of the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Israel's Presidential Medal of Distinction is comparable to the France's "Legion of Honor" or the "Order of Canada."

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