The speaker of the Israeli parliament “looks forward to the day when heads of parliaments from Arab countries will no longer avoid me and we will be able to cooperate.”
Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein on Tuesday delivered an address during a special ceremony in the Belgian Federal Parliament marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day. During the ceremony, Edelstein urged the country to ensure that the Holocaust is never forgotten.
During a meeting with Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders in Brussels after the event, Edelstein said he was “looking forward to the day when heads of parliaments from Arab countries will no longer avoid me and we will be able to cooperate.”
Remarking on the diplomatic process with the Palestinians, he said, “We know that the security cooperation [between Israel and the Palestinian Authority] continues, so why not in economic fields as well? Or agriculture? I am of the opinion that we must seek real issues to cooperate on. This, I believe, is the correct way to advance [the relations] with the Palestinian Authority.”
Addressing Reynders’ remarks on the need to develop parliamentary relations between the Israeli and Belgian legislatures, Edelstein said he saw “great potential” in such relations and that he would facilitate meetings between the various committees of both parliaments.
More Work Remains
In his address to parliament earlier in the day, Edelstein praised Belgium’s “noteworthy steps to ensure that the memory of the Holocaust lives on. Throughout the country, Holocaust education is now part of the school curriculum. Visits to concentration camps and local memorials are standard and play a critical role in raising a generation that is engaged with its history.”
However, he warned that “for all these efforts, there are clearly signs that more work remains.”
Recently, the Antwerp municipality attempted to move the city’s Holocaust memorial, saying it was doing so to move it to a “quieter place” where it would have “less of an impact on traffic.”
In another incident, praise was lavished on a Belgian teacher who won a cash prize in Iran for a cartoon demeaning the Holocaust and the State of Israel. After he won the award, his hometown named him a “cultural ambassador par excellence.”
“To judge from his cartoon, however, I am not certain what culture he represents,” Edelstein said. “We must not forget the heinous attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels, in which four people—including two Israelis—were murdered. The list of tragic events goes on.”
On Wednesday, Edelstein is scheduled to speak at an International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony in the European Parliament.