Peres to address German MPs on Holocaust memorial day
President to deliver historic speech in Hebrew as part of special session marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
President Shimon Peres will address the German parliament in Berlin Wednesday in a historic speech that he will deliver in Hebrew as part of a special session of parliament marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Shortly after 1 P.M. Israel time, Peres will ascend to the rostrum of the Bundestag to speak to an audience that will include invited guests, among them a delegation of Holocaust survivors who are traveling with the president.
In his speech Peres is expected to make mention of his grandfather, who was murdered by the Nazis.
Peres' Berlin visit is a mix of Holocaust commemoration activities and matters pertaining to Israeli-German relations. On Tuesday morning Peres and his German counterpart Horst Koehler participated in a ceremony devoted to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
It was held at a Berlin train station from which many of the city's Jews were sent to their deaths. Among those present was Simha Rotem, one of the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, who lit the first of six candles in memory of the six million dead.
The last of the candles was lit jointly by Peres and German President Koehler. The German president later spoke of his emotion in shaking the hands of survivors of the Holocaust, adding that he was grateful to Peres for extending a hand in reconciliation to the German people.
Peres met later with German Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks that included a discussion of Iran and of future cooperation between Israel and Germany. According to Israeli sources, Merkel said at the meeting that the time had come for the international community to move from rhetoric to deeds in joint efforts against Iran. She reportedly said that a lack of decisiveness on the part of the international community sends the wrong message to Tehran.
At a joint news conference after their meeting, Merkel said that next month would be "decisive" in international efforts against Iran against the backdrop of the Iranian refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment program.
She added that the subject of a new round of sanctions will be on the agenda when France assumes the presidency of the United Nations Security Council. The German leader also called for harsh economic sanctions against the Iranians. Peres, for his part, addressed the Iranian threat at a dinner which German President Koehler held in his honor.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began a visit to Poland Tuesday with talks with Polish Foreign Minister Radislaw Sikorski. The agenda included Iran and Israeli arms sales to the Polish army, primarily for use in Afghanistan as part of the NATO force there. Netanyahu and Sikorski were of like mind over the need for harsher sanctions against Iran and the Israeli prime minister requested Poland's active intervention on the issue with its fellow European Union members.
Netanyahu also paid a short visit to the Umschlagplatz, the square in Warsaw from where trains carried Jews to extermination camps, and laid a wreath in memory of the 300,000 Jews who were transported by train from the site.
From there, the prime minister's motorcade, guarded by Polish police in addition to his personal security detail, drove to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising museum. Netanyahu was accompanied by his wife, Sara.
The prime minister filled an entire page of the museum guest book describing his feelings about the suffering of the Jewish and the Polish people. In the evening, he held meetings with Polish President Lech Kaczynski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
Although the visit to Poland was meticulously planned, Polish media did not give it major coverage. On Wednesday Netanyahu will participate at a commemoration at Auschwitz marking the 65th anniversary of the camp's liberation by the Allies.
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