Pentagon set to award medal to outgoing Israeli defense minister
Outgoing Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, is set to receive the highest award he could be given by a US secretary of defense when he visits the Pentagon on Thursday, according to reports.
Barak, 70, announced his exit from political life three days ago and will officially step down in January.
At a news conference in Tel Aviv this week, he said: “I came to this decision not without qualms, but in the end, with a whole heart.”
In Barak's half-century political career, he also served as Israel's prime minister and armed forces chief. As prime minister of Israel, he ended the country's 22-year Occupation of Southern Lebanon. However, Barak was also behind the most recent attack on Gaza, in his capacity as defense minister, during which 105 civilians were killed.
A U.S. defense official revealed to Reuters that Barak will receive the prestigious Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, when he visits the headquarters of the US Department of Defense on Thursday afternoon.
"He's been an important partner of the U.S. for a long time," the defense official told Reuters.
With the U.S. and Israel hoping to negotiate on the best way to handle Iran, Barak's successor is still unknown.