updated 4/9/2008 10:00:08 PM ET 2008-04-10T02:00:08

Israel's president said Wednesday that a conference next month marking the Jewish state's 60th birthday — including attendance by President Bush and Barbra Streisand — will open with a tribute to Israel's staunchest ally, the United States.

"After 60 years we want to stand up and say 'thank you America,'" Israeli President Shimon Peres said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Peres said the May 13-15 conference, focusing on Jewish and Israeli contributions to humanity, will include subjects "as varied as one can think of ... from arts and science and philosophy and medicine and ecology."

Besides Bush and Streisand other notables attending will include Tony Blair, Mikhail Gorbachev and Rupert Murdoch.

"We are going to have probably 10 presidents from different countries, six former presidents, ministers, prime ministers, scientists, philosophers, artists," Peres said.

Streisand will sing the Hebrew prayer Avinu Malkeinu — Our Father Our King — which Peres described as "unbelievably beautiful."

The conference is expected to be one of the highlights of weeks of celebrations marking Israel's 60th birthday, including concerts, Holocaust remembrance events, a workshop promoting Arab-Israeli coexistence and a 750-mile trans-Israel bicycle trail.

Israel declared statehood in 1948 in the wake of the Nazi genocide of six million Jews. The date is marked in Israel according to the Hebrew calendar and falls this year on May 8.

Peres said most of the of the conference's 2,000 participants will be Jewish, but that it's open to people of all faiths.

The list of confirmed guests also includes Henry Kissinger, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, former Czech President Vaclev Havel, Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz, Google founder Sergey Brinn, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerman, U.S. billionaire Sheldon Adelson, and Abdurrahman Wahid, former president of Indonesia, a country with no diplomatic relations with Israel.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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