Obama to speak at Holocaust commemoration at Israeli embassy

Obama to speak at Holocaust commemoration at Israeli embassy
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President Obama will speak at the Israeli Embassy on Wednesday night at an event to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

The president’s address at the Righteous Among the Nations Award Ceremony will honor four people who risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazis during World War II. 

The individuals, who are being recognized posthumously, demonstrated “the importance of standing up to intolerance and hatred everywhere,” the White House said in a statement. 

The event is co-sponsored by Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to Holocaust victims. 

Obama’s appearance at the embassy comes amid ongoing tensions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

The two leaders have been at odds for more than a year over the nuclear deal Iran struck with six world powers, including the United States. 

The agreement formally took effect this month, after international monitors certified that Tehran had dismantled key elements of its nuclear program. Obama says the historic pact will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

But Israeli leaders argue the agreement does not permanently close off Iran’s path to a bomb and will embolden its leaders, which have threatened Israel’s destruction.

The U.S. and Israel recently engaged in war of words over Israel’s settlement policy. Daniel Shapiro, the American ambassador to Israel, said earlier this month additional housing construction in the West Bank would make it more difficult to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians. 

His comments earned a sharp rebuke from Netanyahu, because they came on the same day as a funeral for an Israeli mother of six who was killed in a terror attack. The Israeli government this week approved the construction of 153 housing units in the West Bank, effectively ending an unofficial moratorium on settlement construction.