Brits out in force at Herzliya Conference

By Martin Bright, January 20, 2011

The Herzliya Conference, Israel's annual summit on global strategy and the Middle East, will have a prominent British presence this year.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox will speak on the defence ministers' panel on the opening day of the conference, which begins on February 6. He will speak alongside Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and his Czech opposite number Alexandr Vondra. With the possible exception of Michael Gove, Mr Fox is seen as Israel's most vocal champion in the coalition cabinet.

On Monday, former Foreign Secretary David Miliband is scheduled to address the question "Has Israel Lost Europe" on a panel with former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner. If his presence is confirmed, this would be Mr Miliband's first intervention in the arena of foreign affairs since his brother defeated him in the Labour leadership contest.

In another session, JLC and UJIA chair Mick Davis will discuss how best to secure the future of Israel and the Jewish people with fellow panellists, Sir Ronald Cohen, chair of the Portland Trust and Nathan Sharansky, head of the Jewish Agency for Israel.

Attacks on Israel's legitimacy will be discussed by Israel's ambassador to Britain, Ron Prosor and former Labour MP, Lorna Fitzsimons, who heads the British Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM).

President Shimon Peres will open proceedings and Opposition leader Tzipi Livni is due to make a keynote speech, as is IDF Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.

The event is held at the campus of Herzliya Interdisciplinary Centre (IDC), a private higher education institution modelled on American Ivy League universities and run in partnership with the IDC's Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy and its Institute for Policy and Strategy.

Since it was founded 11 years ago it has grown into one of the most important political forums in Israel.

Last updated: 2:12pm, January 20 2011