PM prepares for a Knesset address

An address to the Knesset on July 21 is likely to be part of a two-day visit to Israel by Gordon Brown, the JC understands.

Mr Brown’s visit was planned months ago to coincide with Israel’s 60th-anniversary celebrations. But it was delayed because of the crowded list of world leaders visiting Jerusalem of late.

US President George Bush and Nicolas Sarkozy have been there in recent weeks. After Mr Brown, it will be the turn of Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi.

According to a source in the Israeli Foreign Ministry, attempts are being made to persuade Mr Brown’s advisers that he should visit Sderot and the area around the Gaza Strip.

Although Mr Brown will meet senior ministers and the head of the Opposition, the visit is expected to be of a mainly ceremonial nature, without significant political or diplomatic importance.

Knesset procedure mandates that the only non-Israelis to address the plenum should be heads of states, but the Knesset House Committee has already voted in favour of granting Mr Brown special dispensation to speak from the podium.

A similar exemption was made for Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany three months ago.

Gordon Brown will be taking a business delegation of 15, including Sir Trevor Chinn, chairman of the Israel-Britain Business Council and newly appointed chair of the Mayor’s Fund for London; Ian Livingston, chief executive of BT; and John Hutton, the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

Downing Street has not confirmed his visit as the itinerary has yet to be agreed.

    Last updated: 1:45pm, July 10 2008