Shimon Peres, Israel's Foreign Minister, made an official visit to CERN1 on 26 January. He was accompanied by the Israeli Ambassador to the International Organizations in Geneva, Yosef Lamdan, and was received by CERN's Director General, Prof. Christopher Llewellyn Smith. The visit took place at the site of the giant OPAL experiment, on the Large Electron Positron Collider (LEP), where there is major Israeli involvement. Shimon Peres was guided around the experiment by Israeli scientists and also visited the accelerator tunnel. The visit was followed by a meeting with the previous CERN Director General, Prof. Carlo Rubbia, to discuss possible application of his research on an Energy Amplifier to help in the needs for water desalination in the Middle East.
Israel has had observer status at CERN since the signing of a protocol in August 1991 between the Israeli Government and CERN. This protocol also provided the framework for Israeli financial contributions to the Laboratory. During the meeting between the Israeli Foreign Minister and the CERN Director General, the extension of this agreement for an additional five years was discussed. This is particularly important in view of the recent approval of CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC), as Israeli scientists wish to participate actively in the scientific programme of this new accelerator.
Israeli scientists have participated in CERN's scientific life since the foundation of the Organization. The construction at CERN of the LEP accelerator, the largest machine in the world with its 27 km tunnel buried 100 m underground, led to a significant increase in Israeli scientific participation in research at CERN. For the OPAL experiment, Israeli groups developed a new kind of radiation detector technique, using the world's thinnest wire chamber detector, which has since been mass-produced by industry. Israeli scientists have collaborated in the precision measurements carried out at the LEP experiments. These results have extended our knowledge on the origin of the Universe, and in particular on the number of fundamental building blocks of matter and the unification of the basic forces.