BERLIN - Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who wrote in the guest book of the Warsaw Uprising Museum on Tuesday that "the people of Israel have learned their lesson," is expected to draw analogies between the Holocaust and Iran's nuclear ambitions when he speaks at Wednesday's International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Auschwitz.
Iran, according to officials travelling with the prime minister, figured prominently in talks he held with the leaders of Poland, which today is one of Israel's strongest and most important allies in the European Union. Netanyahu was reportedly told that Poland favors the EU leveling sanctions against Iran now, even before the UN Security Council again deals with the issue.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, said on Tuesday, during a press conference with visiting President Shimon Peres in Berlin, that time and patience were running out on Iran's nuclear program and that February would see new sanctions discussed following France's rise to the presidency of the UN Security Council.
"Iran's time is up. It is now time to discuss widespread international sanctions. We have shown much patience and that patience is up," Merkel said.
The international community's efforts have not brought about change so far and it is now time to discuss tougher sanctions, Merkel added. She said that she hoped the world powers would reach a consensus agreement in February, which she described as a "decisive" month.
Merkel stressed that the sanctions would be targeted at Iran's leadership and not against its people. Teheran is aware of the threat of sanctions and is troubled by the notion, she said.
Peres, in Berlin to address the Bundestag on Wednesday to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day, said the world had to act with determination, impose heavy sanctions on Iran, and speak in a single and clear voice against the Ahmadinijad regime. The Iranian leadership was a cruel dictatorship that trampled on human rights, killed its own people and sponsored terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hizbullah, he said.
In Warsaw, meanwhile, Netanyahu attended a ceremony, along with Holocaust survivors and a Polish woman honored as a "Righteous Among the Nations" for saving Jews at the risk of her own life, at the Umschlagplatz
(collection point) in the center of the city from which some 300,000 Jews were sent to Treblinka, 100 km. northeast of the city
"At this place, from where hundreds of thousands of our people were sent to death camps and where we meet today the Righteous Among the Nations, we encounter the worst evil and wickedness in the history of mankind, together with the greatest courage in the history of humanity," he said.
"This is not an easy encounter, but it gives us hope and direction for our future. May God avenge the victims," he said.
Netanyahu, accompanied by his wife, Sara, then visited the museum commemorating the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
"The people of Israel have learned their lesson," he wrote in Hebrew in the museum's guestbook. "The people of Israel live."
The prime minister's visit to these sites came in between meetings with Poland's top leaders, including Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski in the morning, and President Lech Kaczynski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk in the evening.
According to senior sources travelling with Netanyahu, the talks focused on bilateral issues such as defense cooperation and trade issues, as well as regional issues and the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu reportedly discussed the sale of unmanned aerial vehicles to Poland, as well as inviting Polish soldiers to come to Israel for counterterrorism training.
Regarding the Palestinian issue, the sources would neither confirm nor deny reports that US Middle East envoy George Mitchell proposed restarting negotiations at a lower level, perhaps with talks between Netanyahu's envoy Yitzhak Molcho and Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat.
Peres, meanwhile, broke ranks with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman,
who said last week that Israel was through making gestures to the PA to
bring them back to negotiations, saying that Israel would indeed be
willing to make goodwill gestures and calling on PA President Mahmoud
Abbas to return to the negotiating table.
Peres asked Merkel to convey this message to Abbas when he visits
Germany next week. He said the two-state solution is in the heart of
the Israel consensus and that the Palestinians should work toward the
Peres said he was glad to see the Palestinians taking control of their
destiny and beginning construction of their institutions. He said that
Israel fully supported the state-building efforts of PA Prime Minister
"Neither side has an alternative to the two-state solution," said Peres.
Merkel said she was worried that the Palestinians would give up on the
two-state solution and expressed Germany's willingness to assist in
negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
She said that she and Peres also discussed possible three-way projects
that the Palestinians, the Israelis and the Germans could take part in.