The horrors of the Holocaust must never happen again and be perennially remembered in history, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Friday during a visit to the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem.
“The memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust — an example of the indifference and the terrible crimes of the twentieth century — should be forever etched in the history of mankind,” Medvedev said during the visit to the memorial, where he was met by its chairman Avner Shalev. “Yad Vashem is a very sad place, but also a very important place to us all,” Medvedev said. “This tragedy can never be repeated.”
The prime minister was joined by a number of Russian officials on the visit. He placed a wreath at the museum’s Hall of Remembrance, visited the Children’s Memorial and signed the guest book, according to a statement released to the media by Yad Vashem.
“it is very important for us to understand the nature of the devastation of the Holocaust,” Medvedev said. “It is chilling to see sheer magnitude of horrors suffered by the victims of an entire nation, the Jewish people.”
The museum said it has in recent years worked on a number of joint initiatives in Russia, including two new centers on the Holocaust.
Medvedev’s two-day trip to Israel is part of a series of bilateral exchanges to mark the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Israel and the Russian Federation. Both Netanyahu and Rivlin visited Moscow in 2016.
He arrived Wednesday evening and headed straight from the airport to Jerusalem’s Old City, where he visited the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
He met Thursday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, with the Israeli leader telling his Russian counterpart that Israel would work to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence in Syria, and continue to intervene to stop Iran arming Hezbollah and other Shiite militias there.
Moscow is a staunch supporter of Basher Assad’s regime and has also maintained close ties with Iran. But in recent months the government of President Vladimir Putin has increased military cooperation with Jerusalem to prevent the Russian and Israeli militaries from clashing over Syrian skies.
“Israel, Russia, the United States and many other countries share the objective of defeating the Islamic State,” Netanyahu said standing next to Medvedev in the Prime Minister’s Office.
“At the same time, we are also concerned by the second actor promoting radical Islam — Iran — which champions the destruction of Israel and also supports 360-degree terror on five continents.”
The prime minister thanked his Russian counterpart for the close security coordination — a so-called deconflicting mechanism — aimed at preventing clashes between Israeli and Russian fighter jets from clashing over Syria, as Israel routinely enters the country’s airspace to prevent hostile actors from smuggling arms or planning attacks.
“This, too, highlights the dramatic change in our bilateral relations,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu also thanked Medvedev for agreeing to help return to Israel the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, and three Israeli citizens currently held in Gaza.
Medvedev, too, hailed the improvement in bilateral relations, stressed the “special values” that Russians and Israelis have in common. “Every time I visit Israel I feel at home,” he said. “Our countries have common challenges, primarily terrorism. Terror threatens the entire world but in this region it is felt particularly strongly.”
The Russian prime minister, who last visited Israel in 1990 — long before he entered politics — also met with President Reuven Rivlin and opposition leader Isaac Herzog.
He was due to meet later Friday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Jericho. The two were slated to sign bilateral agreements and hold a joint press conference, before inaugurating a street named after the Russian prime minister.
Medvedev planned to return to Moscow from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport on Friday evening.
Raphael Ahren contributed to this report