Former German President Joachim Gauck will attend the official closing ceremony of Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) Monday evening at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum in the Western Galilee, together with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
According to a statement released by the German embassy in Tel Aviv, Gauck’s presence at the event will mark the first time that a German official has participated in an Israeli state ceremony for Holocaust Remembrance Day.
In addition, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel called his country’ close relationship with Israel a “real gift,” and added that Germany takes its pledge to honor “historic responsibility” to memorialize the Holocaust.
Speaking ahead of a three-day trip to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Gabriel said “Our unwavering solidarity with Israel and our commitment to Israel’s security are our guiding principles and the backbone of our foreign policy. Furthermore, these issues are at the center of our self-identity.”
However, Gabriel also said he would pressure Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians in order to advance the Middle East peace process and the two-state solution. The foreign minister said the political pressure stemmed from a sense of friendship and solidarity with Israel, not a desire to harm the Jewish state.
“With respect to the Middle East conflict, our solidarity with Israel also means working to ensure that Israel and Palestine can live side by side in dignity and peace,” Gabriel said in a statement released as he departed for the region. “Only a two-state solution will be sustainable.”