Ukrainian President Gives Up Seats at Israeli Holocaust Forum to Survivors

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Kiev, August 19, 2019. Valentyn Ogirenko
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Kiev, August 19, 2019. Credit: Valentyn Ogirenko / Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and members of his official delegation have given up their seats in the ceremony taking place in Jerusalem Turhsday to make room for Holocaust survivors 
who wished to attend the event but did not have room. 

Yad Vashem criticized the decision, reportedly calling it “puzzling.”  "It has been explained to the president that Holocaust survivors who have contacted us in recent days were addressed and that it's not possible to hassle them under the current circumstances. His decision is bizarre, and it's a shame that he took such a step in an event held under the slogan 'Remembering the Holocaust, fighting anti-Semitism.'"

Zelensky about the gesture, "We learnt that many of the Holocaust survivors have not been able to visit the World Holocaust Forum. Our delegation gave them our seats, as many Israeli ministers did. These people deserve these honors most of all. We will participate in all events and hold scheduled meetings."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced Iran on Thursday as "the most anti-Semitic regime on the planet", telling world leaders at a Holocaust memorial event that Israel would always defend itself against those seeking to destroy it.

Israel has hailed the World Holocaust Forum at the Yad Vashem memorial centre, marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp during World War Two, as the biggest international gathering in its history.

The conference is being held against the backdrop of a rise in anti-Semitic attacks in the United States and Europe.

"At the core of Israel's establishment is the command - there will not be another Holocaust. As prime minister of Israel, that is my greatest commitment," Netanyahu said in his address to world leaders, who included Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

Netanyahu then lashed out at his country's arch-foe Iran, whose nuclear ambitions he says are aimed at building atomic weapons with the aim of destroying Israel. Tehran denies it is seeking nuclear arms.

"I am concerned that we have yet to see a unified and resolute stance against the most anti-Semitic regime on the planet - a regime that openly seeks to develop nuclear weapons and annihilate the one and only Jewish state," Netanyahu said.

"Israel salutes President (Donald) Trump and Vice President Pence for confronting the tyrants of Tehran," he added.

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