Vel' d'Hiv Monument - More than 13,000 French Jews were rounded up in Paris by the Nazis in 1942..
(photo credit: LEONIEKE AALDERS VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/CC BY-SA 3.0)
For the second time in three weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be spending Shabbat this week in Europe, traveling to Paris on Friday afternoon for a Sunday morning ceremony marking 75 years since a massive Nazi roundup in Paris of Jews, and a meeting with new French President Emmanuel Macron.
He will spend three nights in Paris before going to Budapest for another three nights to attend a summit of the Visegrad group, made up of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Netanyahu flew to Strasbourg on Friday, June 1, to take part in an interment ceremony for former German chancellor Helmut Kohl the next day. He briefly met Macron there.
Anticipating likely public criticism regarding why Netanyahu needs to fly out Friday for a Sunday morning event, an official in the Prime Minister’s Office said that Macron invited the premier to take part in the Paris ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup of more than 13,000 Jews in the city.
The event is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m., and Netanyahu will also be meeting Macron in the afternoon.
Explaining the necessity of leaving on Friday, something that will cost the taxpayers much more than if he was to leave on Saturday night, the official explained that Netanyahu is prevented from flying on Shabbat, which on Saturday night will not end until 8:30.
“Manning the positions at the airport by the staff cannot take place, in the best situation, before 9:30, and the staff, the security personnel and the journalists are asked to get to the airport at least two hours before the flight, which means that takeoff would be around midnight,” the official said. “Arrival at the hotel would only be at 5:00, and then there’s the need to wait for luggage. The ceremony is at 9:30.”
According to the official, it is fitting that the prime minister, his staff and even the journalists arrive “refreshed and ready for an important day.”
From Paris, Netanyahu is scheduled to travel on Monday to Budapest for a meeting with the heads of the Visegrad group.
Netanyahu’s visit to Budapest will be the first visit there of an Israeli prime minister since the country emerged from Communist rule in 1989. He is expected to hold both bilateral talks with the leaders of each of the four countries, as well as a joint meeting as well.
Netanyahu is scheduled to fly back to Israel on Thursday, July 20.