ראובן ריבלין במצעד החיים 2018 בפולין אושוויץ בירקנאו
President Reuven Rivlin on a memorial visit to Auschwitz in 2018
Photo: Reuters
Benjamin Netanyahu and Emmanuel Macron

What happens when world's leaders visit Israel en masse?

Dozens of dignitaries will land at Ben-Gurion Airport this week to attend a ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp; British, Spanish, Dutch and Norwegian royalty among attendees along with Macron, Pence and Putin

Gilad Cohen , Itay Blumenthal, AFP |
Published: 01.20.20 , 11:30
Israel was in a flurry of preparations this week as dozens of world leaders, from presidents to prime ministers, were expected to attend Thursday's ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland.
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  • Middle East geopolitics will be firmly on the agenda, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu due to hold numerous bilateral meetings with key leaders.
    בנימין נתניהו ועמנואל מקרוןבנימין נתניהו ועמנואל מקרון
    Benjamin Netanyahu and Emmanuel Macron
    (Photo: Reuters)
    "I will talk with them about Iran, various developments in the region and the strengthening of relations between the countries," Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of a cabinet meeting.
    The attendees at the memorial include Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.
    Macron is due to meet both Netanyahu and Blue & White party leader Benny Gantz as well as with President Reuven Rivlin, who on Wednesday evening will host around 40 foreign delegations at his Jerusalem residence.
    ראובן ריבלין במצעד החיים 2018 בפולין אושוויץ בירקנאוראובן ריבלין במצעד החיים 2018 בפולין אושוויץ בירקנאו
    President Reuven Rivlin on a memorial visit to Auschwitz in 2018
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Thousands of police officers and other security forces were to deploy from Tuesday, and Israel Airports Authority implemented special arrangements at Ben-Gurion International Airport, preparing for the arrival of an unusual number of aircraft, while ensuring the continued normal running of the airport.
    As a result, international departures were to be diverted from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3 until the weekend, while domestic flights to Ramon Airport near Eilat were to continue at usual.
    In addition, private and transport planes were moved to the southern airport in order to make room for the world leaders' planes.
    "This is a very complex event for Ben-Gurion Airport, mainly because regular flights continue as scheduled," said the head of the Israel Airports Authority's Land Operations Division, Eli Mor Yosef.
    Preparations at Ben Gurion Airport Preparations at Ben Gurion Airport
    Preparations at Ben-Gurion Airport for the influx of world leaders
    Jerusalem itself is also undergoing extensive security preparations for the event, with hundreds of Border Police officers and Israel Police volunteers deployed all over the city.
    During the event, particularly on Wednesday and Thursday, roadblocks and traffic jams are expected on the main roadways leading from the airport to the capital and towards the area around Yad Vashem Museum.
    Over the weekend, several American Globemaster C17 and Russian Ilyushin II-76 transport planes arrived in Israel with equipment intended for Pence and Putin respectively.
    Russian Ilyushin II-76 transport planesRussian Ilyushin II-76 transport planes
    Russian Ilyushin II-76 transport planes at Ben-Gurion Airport this week
    Many more transport planes were also expected to arrive ahead of the other leaders.
    The event, titled "Remembering the Holocaust: Fighting Antisemitism," is organized by the International Holocaust Forum, with support from the Yad Vashem Museum and President Reuven Rivlin.
    Among the leaders expected to arrive on Thursday, are several royals: Spanish King Phillipe the Sixth, Crown Prince of England Charles, Dutch King William Alexander, Belgian King Philip, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and the Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon Magnus.
    Also arriving are 26 presidents, chief among them President Putin, who will have a private reception ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport.
    Putin will also inaugurate a Jerusalem memorial honoring the World War Two Siege of Leningrad at the city's Sacher Park.
    Both President Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are expected to meet the Russian leader – with both meetings expected to center around the return of Namaa Issachar, an Israeli woman currently serving a 7.5-year prison sentence in Russia for possession of cannabis during a layover at a Moscow airport in April last year.
    U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was also expected but her attendance has yet to be confirmed.
    Also attending the ceremony are German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Albanian President Ilir Meta, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić.
    Three prime ministers will also attend the ceremony: Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.
    Prince Charles attends Shimon Peres' funeral in Jerusalem, Sept. 2016Prince Charles attends Shimon Peres' funeral in Jerusalem, Sept. 2016
    Britain's Prince Charles attends Shimon Peres' funeral in Jerusalem, Sept. 2016
    (Photo: Reuters)
    The last event of this scale in Israel was in September 2016 for the funeral of former president Shimon Peres. Dozens of world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas attended the ceremony at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

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