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      Peres Congratulates Kerry on Secretary of State Nomination

      "I'm sure you will be able to deal with the challenges in the Middle East," President Shimon Peres tells Senator John Kerry.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 12/24/2012, 5:43 AM

      Kerry and President Peres
      Kerry and President Peres
      Office of the President

      President Shimon Peres phoned Senator John Kerry on Sunday and congratulated him over his impending appointment as U.S. Secretary of State.

      "Israel is satisfied with your appointment. I'm sure you will be able to deal with the challenges in the Middle East," Peres told Kerry.

      Kerry thanked President Peres and said, "I hope that the Senate will approve the appointment. I thank you for your words, I appreciate your opinions, and I'd be happy to meet with you so we can think together about ways to solve the problems in the Middle East."

      U.S. President Barack Obama nominated Kerry as secretary of state on Friday, as he begins to remake his national security team ahead of his second term.

      Kerry will succeed Hillary Clinton, who is stepping down after four years as the top U.S. diplomat.

      His appointment became almost a certainty following the withdrawal of UN ambassador Susan Rice, the early favorite for the post who was caught in the aftermath of the attack of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya in September.

      Kerry, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is expected to win easy confirmation from his colleagues in the chamber. He has acted as a sort of unofficial envoy for Obama in recent years.

      On Saturday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu congratulated Kerry on the appointment.

      "The highly experienced Kerry is a well-known supporter of Israel's security," Netanyahu said in a statement.

      "John Kerry and I have been friends for many years and I appreciated the fact that six months ago, after my father's death, he came to visit me during the shiva. I look forward to working with him," said Netanyahu.

      During the last Democratic National Convention in September, Kerry said that he believes Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s word over that of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

      “Barack Obama promised always to stand with Israel to tighten sanctions on Iran—and take nothing off the table,” said Kerry.

      “Again and again, the other side has lied about where this president stands and what this president has done. But Prime Minister Netanyahu set the record straight—he said, our two countries have ‘exactly the same policy…’—‘our security cooperation is unprecedented...’

      “When it comes to Israel, I'll take the word of Israel's prime minister over Mitt Romney any day,” declared Kerry.