By Justin Sink - 03/21/13 08:33 PM EDT
“This is an extraordinary honor, and I could not be more deeply moved," Obama said at the ceremony, adding that he accepted the medal "on behalf of the American people."
“That includes Jewish-Americans, but also African-Americans, who so often had to deal with their own challenges, with whom you have stood shoulder to shoulder," Obama continued. "African-Americans and Jewish-Americans marched together at Selma. And Montgomery. With rabbi carrying the Torah as they walked. They boarded buses for Freedom Rides together. They bled together, they gave their lives together."
Turning to the peace process facing Israel and Palestine, Obama hinted at hopes for a breakthrough.
“All things are possible, even those things that, in a moment of darkness and doubt, may seem elusive,” Obama said.
In a statement released last month announcing the award, Peres praised Obama as "a true friend of the state of Israel."
The pair and gathered dignitaries enjoyed a Mediterranean sea plate, a fillet of beef and lamb chop duet, and zucchini mushroom medley as part of the celebratory meal.
The dinner concluded the second day of the president's trip. On Friday, he will visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and travel later to Jordan for a meeting with King Abdullah II.