World Leaders Gather in Jerusalem 75 Years After Holocaust: Live Updates


Leaders from around the world descend on Jerusalem.Jerusalem was overflowing with Western presidents, premiers and potentates, all descending on the Holy City to recall the Holocaust and speak out against anti-Semitism some 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz.It is a gathering like nothing Israel has experienced before.But an event that might seem to be focused squarely on the past has been caught up in controversies and concerns of the present, with violence against Jews on the rise in Europe and North America, and with a noisy row between Russia and Poland over their roles in the start of World War II playing out this week on Israeli turf.The kings of Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands, Britain’s Prince Charles and the presidents of Russia, France, Germany, Italy and Ukraine are among those leading nearly 50 delegations attending the events. They began with a Wednesday dinner at the residence of President Reuven Rivlin of Israel and culminate in an afternoon ceremony Thursday at Yad Vashem, the hillside Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.Auschwitz, the largest of the Nazi death camps, was a vast complex in occupied Poland near the town of Oswiecim that received some 1.1 million Jews and 200,000 Poles, Russians, Roma and others between 1940 and 1945, of whom 1.1 million were killed.For Israel, the participation of so many world leaders is a point of pride: Only the funerals of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and former President Shimon Peres attracted more, officials say.But the turnout also points to the seriousness with which anti-Semitic rhetoric and violence is viewed in the West and in Israel — and offers representatives of countries considered hotbeds of anti-Jewish hatred a chance at least to demonstrate their revulsion for it on an international stage.The event at Yad Vashem will feature speeches by representatives from four of the main Allied powers: Vice President Mike Pence, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Prince Charles and President Emmanuel Macron of France. Germany’s president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who has called World War II a “German crime” and apologized for the Holocaust, will also speak, as will Mr. Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and event organizers.Jerusalem is only the first stop for some of the leaders participating. The actual anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Red Army troops, on Jan. 27, 1945, will be observed, as it is each year, at the site of the infamous death camp on Monday. In addition, Mr. Rivlin is to address the German Bundestag, in Hebrew, at Mr. Steinmeier’s invitation on Jan. 29.A dinner with heads of state was a tough ticket.Heads of state gathered for a dinner at the Israeli presidential residence Wednesday night. Those in the soaring reception room repurposed to accommodate a state dinner included only a handful of senior Israeli officials: the foreign minister, Supreme Court chief justice, military chief of staff, speaker of Parliament and mayor of Jerusalem. Others were relegated to an outside tent.President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shared a head table with the monarchs of Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.The Israeli opposition leader, Benny Gantz, who is battling Mr. Netanyahu in a third straight election in March, was seated next to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who officials said had been invited by Mr. Rivlin’s office in an acknowledgement of the importance of Israel’s maintaining bipartisan ties to the United States.The two would seem to have plenty to discuss: Ms. Pelosi has the impeachment process against President Trump, while Mr. Gantz is seeking to dislodge Mr. Netanyahu at the ballot box and has vowed to deny him parliamentary immunity from prosecution on outstanding corruption charges.Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser on matters including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was expected to attend the Rivlin dinner but canceled, citing bad weather in Davos, Switzerland, where he participated in the World Economic Forum.Israeli bodyguards get a French earful, in English. President Emmanuel Macron of France erupted at Israeli security officers late Wednesday before entering a French church in the Old City of Jerusalem, apparently angered by something that had occurred outside.Witnesses said he demanded to enter the Church of St. Anne, a 12th-century Roman church near Lion’s Gate that was restored by the French government after the 1967 Six-Day War, with his own security only, and not with Israeli bodyguards.“Please respect the rules,” Mr. Macron said in English, his voice at times rising into a shout. “They are for centuries. They will not change with me, I can tell you. So everybody respects the rules. Please.”Mr. Macron appeared to be objecting to something that occurred before entering the church. “I don’t like what you did in front of me,” he told Israeli security officers. “Go outside. I’m sorry. But we know the rules. Nobody — nobody has to provoke. Nobody! O.K.?”The French presidency said later on Wednesday that Mr. Macron had reacted to an “altercation” between French and Israeli security forces but that there was “nothing serious” and that his visit had continued without further issue.The French Consulate in Jerusalem is the protector of French holy sites and religious communities in the city, among them the Church of St. Anne. France formally treats Jerusalem as a “corpus separatum” with special legal status under United Nations Resolution 181, dating to 1947, a consulate spokeswoman said.The fracas was reminiscent of a scuffle between the Israeli police and then-President Jacques Chirac in 1996, in which he accused them of aggressively pushing and shoving his entourage and preventing him from mingling with bystanders. The rough treatment drew an apology from the young Israeli prime minister, then in his first year in office: Benjamin Netanyahu. As Poland and Russia duel, Israel is caught in the crossfire.Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, was invited to the Jerusalem gathering but declined to attend over a perceived snub: He was not given a speaking slot, though Mr. Putin was.The two have been engaged in a bitter dispute for months, with each accusing the other of trying to rewrite — and weaponize — history: Mr. Putin has sought to portray the Soviet Union as having saved the world from Nazism, and ignore its own 1939 nonaggression pact with Germany, framing Poland as more a perpetrator than a victim of the Holocaust. Mr. Duda argues that the Soviet agreement with Germany paved the way to war, and that Mr. Putin is reviving old Stalinist propaganda as a modern-day cudgel.“I am sorry to say this, but President Putin is knowingly spreading historical lies,” Mr. Duda said in an interview with Israeli public television that aired Tuesday.Fueling speculation that the Jerusalem gathering was being given a pro-Russian tilt is that its main organizer is Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor, a Russian-Jewish billionaire with close ties to Mr. Putin. His group, the World Holocaust Forum Foundation, held similar events in Poland in 2005 and 2010, Ukraine in 2006, and the Czech Republic in 2015.But Yad Vashem’s chairman, Avner Shalev, said in an interview that Mr. Kantor had not exerted any such influence: “It’s not true.” Decisions on who would speak were made many months ago, he said, and to bend to accommodate Mr. Duda would be untenable when many other leaders were denied similar requests.Mr. Shalev said he believed that having so many heads of state, government and parliaments making such a collective demonstration of resolve to fight anti-Semitism was well worth it, though he acknowledged that the Russia-Poland crossfire has been a headache.“We’re in the business of historical truth,” he said. “We don’t want to play any political game.”A last-minute casualty of the dispute was President Gitanas Nauseda of Lithuania, a former Soviet republic, who pulled out of the Yad Vashem event on Tuesday, reportedly in solidarity with Mr. Duda. Mr. Nauseda has joined Mr. Duda in accusing Mr. Putin of trying to sanitize Russia’s 1939 pact with Hitler.The police and diplomats prep for biggest visit in years.Tiny Israel has never had to tend to so many V.I.P.s at once, complete with overnight stays and scores of elaborate schedules, and its diplomatic corps, police force and other government agencies were scrambling to prepare. (Leaders who attended the Rabin and Peres funerals mostly flew in and out on the same day.)The Ministry of Foreign Affairs employs only five protocol officers, but many others were pitching in, including retirees. At Ben-Gurion Airport, the ministry’s director-general, Yuval Rotem, was running from plane to plane to greet officials as their planes landed.Some 10,000 police officers were being deployed to provide security and direct traffic, more than a third of the 29,000-strong nationwide force.Asked on television what he feared most, Ofer Shomer, a local police commander, replied, “Fear is not a word that exists with us.” The Israel Police force, he said, was prepared for every scenario, from freak weather to sabotage.King David Street, with its luxury hotels housing many leaders, was being “hermetically sealed,” the police said. And no-fly zones for all aircraft, including drones, were established over the main gathering points: Yad Vashem, the Israeli president’s residence, and the Crowne Plaza hotel, where Mr. Pence will be staying.At the presidential residence, the turnstile-like parade of important visitors made for broad comedy when there were logjams: Mr. Macron, leaving a meeting with Mr. Rivlin, grabbed a camera and played photographer as the president of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, took his seat.Residence officials, meanwhile, detailed the preparations for Wednesday’s dinner with breathless detail, noting even that “the grand piano has been…

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