Herzog to meet with Boris Johnson, Jewish leaders in UK visit next week

President and first lady will participate in tribute event marking one year since death of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Illustrative: President Isaac Herzog boards a plane as he sets off for Ukraine to participate in memorial ceremony marking the 80th anniversary since the babi Yar massacre. (Haim Zach / GPO)
Illustrative: President Isaac Herzog boards a plane as he sets off for Ukraine to participate in memorial ceremony marking the 80th anniversary since the babi Yar massacre. (Haim Zach / GPO)

President Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal will visit the United Kingdom next week, his office announced Thursday morning.

Herzog will take off Sunday morning for the three-day trip, during which he will meet UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, parliamentarians, and leaders of the UK Jewish community.

Herzog will also be the guest of honor at a Genesis Prize Foundation event honoring the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who passed away in November 2020.

“As Britain carves out a new, independent role for itself in the world, the State of Israel is one of its most dependable allies on the front lines of innovation and progress,” said Herzog.

“I look forward to meeting Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Members of Parliament and discussing the many ways our dynamic, pioneering nations can take the lead in the fight against climate change and Iran’s nuclear program, as well on national security, cybersecurity, the fight against antisemitism, and trade.”

In a statement, he called Sacks “a giant of the British and Jewish spirit, a man who loved Israel and whose moral leadership is sorely missed by the Jewish People and humanity at large.”

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks speaks at a press conference announcing his winning of the 2016 Templeton Prize, in London, March 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom whose extensive writings and frequent media appearances commanded a global following among Jews and non-Jews alike, died during his third bout with cancer. In his 22 years as chief rabbi, he emerged as the most visible Jewish leader in the United Kingdom and one of the European continent’s leading Jewish voices, offering Jewish wisdom to the masses through a regular segment he produced for the BBC. He had a close relationship with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who called Sacks “an intellectual giant” and presented him with a lifetime achievement award in 2018.

On Sunday afternoon, the Herzogs will attend an exhibition on antisemitism hosted at the Chelsea soccer club’s Stamford Bridge stadium in memory of the 49 Jewish Olympians killed in the Holocaust.

Chelsea is owned by Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich.

On Monday, Herzog will be at Westminster Palace to meet British lawmakers and will be joined by his wife in the evening for the Genesis Prize Foundation tribute event to Rabbi Lord Sacks.

The next morning, the president will meet with British Jewish community leaders, to discuss antisemitism, COVID-19, and relations with Israel. Israel’s envoy to the UK Tzipi Hotovely will also participate.

Herzog’s meeting with Johnson at 10 Downing Street will take place later in the day, before the president and first lady return to Israel.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson chat as they attend an evening reception to mark the opening day of the COP26 UN Climate Summit, in Glasgow, Scotland, on Monday, November 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, Pool)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met Johnson on the sidelines of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow earlier this month. The two spoke at length about Iran’s nuclear program, according to an Israeli official.

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