President Isaac Herzog will deliver the keynote Holocaust Remembrance Day address to the European Parliament.
Herzog is scheduled to leave for Brussels on January 25 and will spend two days in the Belgian capital.
During his visit, he will meet with King Philippe of Belgium, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, the Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg, whom he will brief on Israel's strategic policy; and Jewish community representatives of Brussels and Antwerp.
In the course of his two-day sojourn, Herzog will visit the Athenee Ganenou Jewish School, and the Great Synagogue of Europe which is located in Brussels.
At the European Parliament, he will also meet with Holocaust survivors.
A visit unlike any other
Herzog regards his first trip abroad in 2023 as "an important and exceptional visit to the European Union."
As he considers Belgium to be a close friend of Israel's, he is sure that his meetings with the king and government officials will act as a catalyst for future cooperation.
Insofar as the EU concerned, Herzog notes that "Israel's relations with the nations of Europe and the institutions of the European Union have an impact on almost every area of our lives as a people and as a state."
As the son of an officer in the British army who helped to liberate Bergen Belsen, and the grandson of a rabbi who went to Europe immediately after the war to rescue Jewish children who had been placed in convents and monasteries, Herzog is particularly sensitive to anything related to the Holocaust and admits to being filled with a sense of "sacred trepidation" with regard to his address to the European Parliament.
"We must never forget that the Holocaust, the darkest abyss in human history, grew out of the fertile soil of antisemitism that had spread through Europe for generations and tragically is rearing its head in many forms in the present day," he says.
"The historical responsibility borne by the whole family of nations – and the nations of Europe in particular - requires us to not only deepen our remembrance and commemoration, but also to draw lessons, to educate and to wage a persistent, determined, and most importantly common battle against antisemitism, racism, and xenophobia."
At his meeting with von der layen, Herzog spoke of the Iranian threat and said: “One of the main challenges that we are faced with, and I think it is clear now that Europe is faced with, is the fact that Iran is in Europe. Iran is fighting Ukrainian citizens by supplying drones and lethal weapons, endangering the world by rushing toward nuclear capabilities, and killing and torturing its own citizens, and we believe it is about time that Europe takes a very firm stance on Iran as it is a challenge not only to Israel, the region, the Middle East but also to Europe and the world.