US Secretary of State John Kerry is not the only jet-setting government official travelling to Israel this season. Israeli Foreign Ministry officials announced Wednesday that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron are both set to visit the country in February. This will be Cameron’s first official visit since he was elected in 2010.
Both European leaders are set to arrive within days of each other, though their visits will not overlap. The visits are seen as a show of support for the current round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Merkel’s entourage will include several other Cabinet ministers, as part of the same “government to government” program that saw Israeli Prime Minister visit Berlin last year.
“We’ll never be neutral and … Israel can be sure of our support when it comes to ensuring its security,” Merkel told a Jewish magazine in Germany in August. “That’s why I also said that Germany’s support for Israel’s security is part of our national ethos, our raison d’être.” Merkel’s last visit was in 2011.
In addition, Merkel’s newly installed foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, is expected to arrive in Israel next week. Other foreign dignitaries on tour this month include Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who lands on January 19 and who will give a speech at the Knesset; Romanian President Traian Băsescu, who arrives on the same day as Harper; and new Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, who will be accompanied by his foreign minister Maia Panjikidze. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Peruvian President Ollanta Humala are also scheduled to appear in January.