KING Felipe VI was one of 41 heads of State and 50 international representatives who took part in the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem to mark the 75th anniversary of the release of prisoners from Auschwitz.
One of the most notorious Nazi death camps of World War II, those held captive in Auschwitz – in modern-day Poland – were freed on January 27, 1945.
Spain ‘will never forget’ what the Holocaust ‘represented’, said Felipe VI (pictured during his speech at the event), when which he offered to ‘start a new cycle’ in bilateral relations with Israel after months of both countries’ having been run by a caretaker government.
“The friendship between both nations is well-founded,” the King said.
“It’s true that our political context has been rather complex, but I’m certain that we can now start a new cycle.”
Concerning the Holocaust, King Felipe urged the world to ‘look to the future’ to ensure that such episodes in history would never recur, and to curb ‘hatred, xenophobia and racism’.
The 75th-anniversary event required watertight security, given the presence of so many leaders in one place – Prince Charles of Great Britain, German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Russian president Vladimir Putin, US deputy president Mike Pence, Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu and acting deputy Israeli prime minister Reuven Rivlin, along with Spain’s new foreign affairs minister Arancha González Laya, all attended.
But several key figures were missing from the event, which took place at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial site on Mount Herzl, whose name translates as ‘Memory Mountain’.
Although over 700 global figureheads were invited, barely 100 attended, and local newspapers reported the fury of Holocaust survivors who had asked to go along but were told there was ‘no room’.
Polish President Andrzej Duda declined to attend after he heard that he would not be one of the leaders allowed to give a speech after Putin said Poland had been allies of Hitler’s Germany before the start of World War II.
Duda said his being unable to speak ‘went against Polish interests’, given that three million of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust were from Poland – and yet Netanyahu, Pence and Putin were all permitted to give speeches.
Lithuanian president Gitanas Nauseda also declined at the last minute and sent along with a Parliamentary representative.
French President Emmanuel Macron, along with Putin and Prince Charles, all have meetings programmed over the weekend with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who had met with Putin in Bethlehem on Wednesday.
US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and chief adviser Jared Kushner cancelled his visit at the last minute due to a flight delay.
Kushner had been expected to meet with Israel’s leaders to discuss the possible signing of the so-called ‘Deal of the Century’, which would reactivate negotiations with the Palestinians ahead of the Israeli elections in March.