The great and the good of Israeli society descended on the presidential residence tonight for the social highlight of Barack Obama’s visit: the state dinner.
As well as newly appointed cabinet ministers, religious leaders and heads of the military, Mr Obama, the Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were joined by about 250 other guests. Most prominent among them, at least in terms of height, was the newly crowned Miss Israel, Yityish Aynaw.
Before tucking into a six-course dinner, the highlight of which was a “fillet of beef and lamb chop duet on a potato tart”, Mr Peres presented Mr Obama with Israel’s highest civil honour, the Presidential Medal of Distinction, for, Mr Peres said, “your tireless work to make Israel strong.… Your presidency has given the close ties between Israel and the United States a new height. A sense of intimacy. A vision for the future”.
In a gathering that included a host of new Israeli cabinet ministers, including Naftali Bennett, the leader of the religious Jewish Home party and an opponent of the two-state solution with the Palestinians, Mr Peres again stressed the need for peace. The 89-year-old said: “After everything I have seen in my life, I [have] earned the right to believe that peace is attainable.”