Kings, crown princes, presidents, prime ministers and other world leaders are arriving in Israel this week to attend the World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem on Thursday, marking the 75th year since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The gathering of world leaders poses a huge security challenge for Israel’s security forces, the third-largest gathering since the funerals of Shimon Peres in 2016 and Yitzchak Rabin in 1995.
Some of the most notable leaders who will attend the forum are US Vice President Mike Pence, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Prince Charles of Britain, who are all slated to deliver a speech at the forum. Rav Yisrael Meir Lau, chairman of the Yad Vashem council as well as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will also speak.
Other royals who will attend in addition to Prince Charles, who is making his first official visit to Israel, are the kings of Spain, Belgium, and Holland, the crown prince of Norway and the grand duke of Luxembourg.
Many European countries that had a large population of Jews who were killed during the Holocaust will be represented at the forum but a representative of the country with the largest number of Jews killed during the Holocaust (3 million) – Poland – will be noticeably missing. Poland’s absence is mainly due to its anger over the fact that Israel refuses to go along with Poland’s denial of many many of its citizens who not only aided the Nazis in murdering Jews but murdered thousands of Jews of their own volition. However, Polish President Andrzeg Duda’s official excuse for not attending is due to the fact that he wasn’t invited to deliver a speech at the forum.
Jerusalem’s most luxurious hotels have been booked by leaders on a “first come first served” basis, with many leaders including Prince Charles staying at the King David Hotel. Putin will be staying at the David Citadel and US representatives, Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, confirmed their attendance only days ago and were”left” with the Crowne Plaza.
The security arrangements for the world leaders in downtown Jerusalem are expected to cause traffic jams from Wednesday morning to Friday afternoon as police and other security officials close streets around the area.
President Reuven Rivlin will be hosting about 40 of the world leaders at the President’s Residence on Wednesday – the day before the forum – for an official state dinner and discussion, at which the King Felipe VI of Spain will address the crowd.
The list of world leaders attending include:
US Vice President Mike Pence
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
President of France Emmanuel Macron
President of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen
Governor-General of Canada Julie Payette
Governor-General of Australia David Hurley
President of Russia Vladimir Putin
Prince Charles of Britain
King of the Netherlands Willem-Alexander
King Felipe VI of Spain
President of Italy Sergio Mattarella
President of Slovenia Borut Pahor
President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier
President of Hungary János Áder
President of Greece Prokopis Pavlopoulos
Prime Minister of Sweden Stefan Löfven
President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zolenskyy
President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades
President of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda
Crown Prince Haakon of Norway
Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen
President of Finland Sauli Niinistö
President of Portugal Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
President of Bulgaria Rumen Radev
President of Romania Klaus Iohannis
President of Slovakia Zuzana Čaputová
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Andrej Babiš
President of Albania Ilir Meta
President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian
President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili
Speaker of the Latvian Parliament Ināra Mūrniece
President of Moldova Igor Dodon
Minister of State of Monaco Serge Telle
Chairman of the House of Representatives of Belarus
President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović
President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić
President of Bosnia and Herzegovina Željko Komšić
Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg
President of Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski
President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović
President of the European Council Charles Michel
President of the European Parliament David Sassoli
Vatican Representative Kurt Koch
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)