President Isaac Herzog, before boarding the plane
President Isaac Herzog, before boarding the planeHaim Zach/GPO

On Tuesday morning Israeli President Isaac Herzog departed to Ukraine for the first state visit of his presidency, at the invitation of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Departing from Israel, President Herzog said: “I am flying to Ukraine to mark 80 years since the terrible Babi Yar Massacre. There, I shall mark, at an official ceremony with world leaders including the President of Ukraine, President of Germany, and other leaders, 80 years since the massacre. I shall also conduct a state visit in Ukraine, an important country, at President Zelensky’s invitation.”

“Ukraine and Israel have good relations. This year, we mark 30 years of Ukrainian independence and 30 years of relations between Israel and Ukraine.

“I want to thank President Zelensky, the Ukrainian government, and the Ukrainian Parliament for recently passing a tough law against anti-Semitism, which adopted the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism. The only way to build a present and future in which atrocities and crimes against humanity find no foothold is only to study the past, including the Holocaust of the Jewish People and their persecution, in the sense of ‘and you shall tell your sons and daughters.’

“I welcome President Zelenksy’s invitation and his commitment to the war against anti-Semitism. Ukraine also boycotted the Durban Conference, and I am grateful to it for this,” Herzog noted.

He emphasized, “I think in international relations in general in a period like the coronavirus pandemic, cooperation is necessary, and we shall strive to sign and promote various agreements and understandings.”

“Most importantly, we shall remember and never forget the terrible massacre at Babi Yar, in which 33,000 Jews were massacred, shot dead into pits, naked, in the terrible cold — men, children, the elderly, and women. May their memory be a blessing.”

During his visit, President Herzog will participate in the official international ceremony marking 80 years since the Babi Yar Massacre and inaugurating Kyiv’s new memorial center, together with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and other leaders.

Joining the delegation are MK Ze'ev Elkin (New Hope), the government liaison to Ukraine, and MKs Moshe Arbel (Shas), Michael Michaeli, and Evgeny Sova (Yisrael Beytenu).

During the visit, several official events will be held with the participation of the presidents of Ukraine and Germany and the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center.

President Isaac Herzog boarding the plane to Ukraine
President Isaac Herzog boarding the plane to UkraineHaim Zach/GPO