An airlift of presidents, prime ministers and royalty from around the world arrived in Israel Wednesday for the two-day World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem, marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
Hijacking the Holocaust for Putin, politics and power
President Reuven Rivlin delivered a speech welcoming the leaders, which include French President Emmanuel Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Britain's Prince Charlse, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, as well as the presidents of Bulgaria, Romania, Finland, Georgia, Cyprus and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
8:08 P.M. Netanyahu speaks with world leaders at Holocaust forum
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, French President Emmanuel Macron, European Council President Charles Michel, and many more who arrived in Israel to attend the Holocaust forum in Jerusalem.
7:50 P.M. Rivlin calls on world leaders to unite in battle against anti-Semitism
Speaking at a special reception, Rivlin urged politicians and heads of state from all around the world to "stand united in the fight against racism, anti-Semitism and extremism, in defending democracy and democratic values. This is the call of our time. This is our challenge. This is our choice."
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"This is a historic gathering, not only for Israel and the Jewish People, but for all humanity," Rivlin said. "This evening as we remember the victims of the Holocaust, and World War Two, we also mark the victory of freedom and human dignity." He added that at Thursday's ceremony at the Yad Vashem memorial, the leaders will gather to "remember and to promise 'never again'."
In his speech Rivlin also hinted at a scuffle between Poland and Russia over the issue of who is responsible for the outbreak of the war. Polish President Andrzej Duda decided to boycott the ceremony because its organizers did not invite him to make an official address, while Russian President Vladimir Putin has been asked to make a speech. "Historical research should be left to historians," Rivlin said. "The role of political leaders is to shape the future... At a time when more and more survivors are leaving us, this gathering is an expression of our shared commitment, to pass on the historical facts and lessons of the Shoah, to the next generation."
7:45 P.M. Introductory video shows Trump, Pope, Putin, Prince Charles
An introductory video featured statements by U.S. President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Britain's Prince Charles, Pope Francis, and Polish President Andrzej Duda.
7:30 P.M. World leaders gather at President's Residence
World leaders gathered at President Reuven Rivlin's residence to begin the Holocaust Forum. They are beginning events with an official dinner.
6:35 P.M. Prince Charles, EU leaders to arrive in Israel
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, as well as other EU leaders and Prince Charles will land in Israel Thursday night after taking part in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Earlier, President Trump's son in law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who also attended the economic forum, canceled his visit to Israel, citing extreme weather conditions.
5:20 P.M. France's Macron confronts Israel police in Jerusalem
French President Emanuel Macron confronted Israeli police in Jerusalem Wednesday, yelling at them not to enter the church of St. Anne's, which is considered to be French territory.
"Everybody knows the rules .. Outside, please," he can be heard screaming at Israeli security forces.
The Israel Police later said in an official statement that following Macron's departure from the church, his team apologized for the incident and the French president shook the hands of the Israeli security forces at the scene.
5:05 P.M. Kushner cancels Israel visit citing weather conditions
President Trump's son in law and senior adviser was expected to attend World Holocaust Forum and discuss possible release of peace plan. On Wednesday, however, his team concluded that due to weather conditions in Switzerland, his flight to Israel would have been delayed to a point that a visit wouldn't be efficient (Amir Tibon).
3:42 P.M. Putin to meet mother of Israeli jailed in Russia on drug charges, Kremlin and Israeli officials say
Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Thursday the mother of Naama Issachar, a U.S-Israeli woman who is serving a seven-and-a-half-year prison term in Russia for possession of 9.6 grams of hashish while changing planes at a Moscow airport, Kremlin and Israeli sources confirm.
2:42 P.M. The perils of using social media to discuss the Holocaust
Combative, divisive arenas like Twitter and Facebook are increasingly being used to inform and educate people about the Shoah, writes Allison Kaplan Sommer. This presents some challenges.
12:17 P.M. Netanyahu and Macron talk Iran, Lebanon, Libya
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with French President Emmanuel Macron at the prime minister's residence, where Netanyahu called on Macron to join the campaign of pressure and sanctions on Iran, following the country's latest nuclear measures and regional aggression, a Prime Minister's Office statement said.
Macron said he was "determined" Iran will never acquire nuclear weapons, adding that France would be "inflexible" about Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
The two also discussed the situation in Lebanon and Hezbollah's precision weapons project there, as well as developments in Libya in light of Turkey's recent intervention.
10:32 A.M. Putin wants historic gestures from Netanyahu
Russian president, who is set to arrive in Israel on Thursday, will discuss with Prime Minister Netanyahu the release of jailed Naama Issachar. Haaretz's Amos Harel expands on what the quid pro quo may entail.
7:00 A.M. Could Kushner’s Israel visit signal release of Deal of the Century?
Israeli officials are convinced the Trump peace plan will be published before the March 2 election, Haaretz's Amir Tibon writes, but U.S. experts are questioning who would benefit from such a move.
5:22 A.M. Netanyahu to use Holocaust Forum to boost support for Israel against the ICC
Netanyahu will attempt to secure backing for claim that court has no jurisdiction in Palestinian territories, as they are not a sovereign state, Noa Landau reports