Herzog to deliver address on Holocaust to special session of EU parliament

President will meet heads of European Union, NATO, Belgium’s Jewish community and king during two-day trip to Brussels

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

File: President Isaac Herzog at the Federation of Local Authorities conference in Tel Aviv, December 6, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
File: President Isaac Herzog at the Federation of Local Authorities conference in Tel Aviv, December 6, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

President Isaac Herzog will address the European Parliament in Brussels on Thursday, the day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

During his two-day trip, which begins early Wednesday, Herzog will meet NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and European Parliament head Roberta Metsola.

He will also meet with Belgium’s King Philippe at the Royal Palace of Brussels.

Herzog is then scheduled to visit Brussels’s Athénée Ganenou Jewish school and Great Synagogue of Europe to meet with members of the Jewish communities of Brussels and Antwerp.

Herzog will deliver his speech to European parliamentarians and Holocaust survivors. In a statement, the president said that the upcoming address “fills me with a sense of sacred trepidation.”

Turning to Israel’s relationship with the EU and its member states, Herzog said the ties “have an impact on almost every area of our lives as a people and as a state—from the economy to security, academia, science, culture, and so much more.”

Herzog’s visit comes as he sounds warnings that Israel is on course to tear itself apart amid the government’s planned radical shakeup of the judicial system and mounting public opposition.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a press statement on Ukraine, at EU headquarters in Brussels, Feb 24, 2022. (Kenzo Tribouillard, Pool Photo via AP)

Israel’s European partners are watching the new government closely — including the outcome of its judicial reforms fight — after a high point in Israel-EU ties during the Naftali Bennett-Yair Lapid government.

In October 2022, the EU-Israel Association Council met for the first time since 2012. The meeting is meant to occur annually between Israel and the EU to cover matters of mutual concern.

While Jerusalem’s relationship with Europe is expected to blossom in trade, research and energy under the Netanyahu government, the two will likely clash over diplomatic issues like the Temple Mount, East Jerusalem and settlement construction in the West Bank.

The EU and Israel also do not see eye-to-eye on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While the EU and many member states have reacted decisively to punish Moscow, Israel has maintained a neutral stance, condemning the invasion and offering humanitarian aid to Kyiv but avoiding measures that would threaten ties with Russia.

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