Britain prepares to do the honours for Peres

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 6, 2008

All the stops will be out to honour Israeli President Shimon Peres when he visits Britain on November 17 - his first time since becoming president.

In addition to being awarded an honorary title from the Queen, he will receive an honorary doctorate from King's College, London.

Both the British and Israeli foreign ministries have unofficially confirmed that Mr Peres will be awarded a title during his visit, though details are "still in the works".

As well as being received by the Queen, Mr Peres is expected separately to meet Prince Charles.

The president's doctorate is in recognition of his work in furthering peace in the Middle East. It will be awarded by the principal of King's, Professor Rick Trainor, head of Universities UK, the umbrella group for Britain's leading universities and colleges.

The award is seen by the Israeli Foreign Ministry as a further blow to the academic boycott campaign against Israel.

Additionally, Balliol College Oxford is to host a reception for President Peres before he gives a lecture on "The Globalisation of Peace" at the city's Sheldonian Theatre.

He will have meetings with senior journalists and opinion-makers and a reception at the Dorchester, hosted by Bicom head Poju Zabludowicz and the UJIA. But the main focus of the visit will be political.

Mr Peres is the only Israeli leader assured of keeping his job after February's elections and, despite holding what is officially only a titular position, he is deeply involved in Israel's crucial defence policy-making. He is expected to brief Prime Minister Gordon Brown - who will host a dinner at Downing Street in his honour - on the Iranian nuclear situation.

Mr Peres will be the first Israeli politcal figure to address a joint meeting of members of the Commons and the Lords, and will meet Opposition leader David Cameron.

He is also expected to unveil a plaque at the Foreign Office, with Foreign Secretary David Miliband, honouring British diplomats who saved Jews in the Holocaust. The plaque has been criticised by Holocaust education groups for not naming specific diplomats.

Last updated: 1:40pm, November 6 2008