President Shimon Peres is due to leave Israel on Tuesday on a weeklong visit to Brussels, Paris and Strasburg aimed at strengthening Jerusalem’s strategic ties with Europe.
Israel has increasingly become the target of criticism in Europe, and Peres hopes to ameliorate this negative attitude through meetings with European leaders and a historic address to the European Parliament in Strasburg.However, on Monday, Peres focused on setting an example for the local community, rather than the international one, by taking a hand in Good Deeds Day. The president spent the day promoting Shalva, the Jerusalem-based association for mentally and physically challenged children.
More than 13,000 Jerusalemites participated in 250 community service projects on Monday, with the municipality honoring Good Deeds Day by dedicating a five-kilometer extension to the Rail Trail bike path.
Among the leaders whom Peres is scheduled to meet during his European tour are Belgian Prime Minister Elio de Rupo, French President Francois Hollande, Bulgarian President Rosen Plevniev, President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen and OECD secretary-general Angel Gurria among others.