JERUSALEM, Israel – U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres began day one of his four-day visit to Israel Monday by laying a wreath at Jerusalem’s Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial.
Israeli U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon, who welcomed the secretary general on his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport Sunday evening, accompanied him on his visit to Yad VaShem, which began with a tour of the facility, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance.
In the memorial’s guest book, Guterres penned his commitment to fight rising anti-Semitism.
“As U.N. secretary-general, I’m committed to combating anti-Semitism and any other form of intolerance that hasn’t been eradicated,” he wrote. After the horror of the Holocaust, he said, anti-Semitism should be “dead forever.”
From Yad VaShem, Guterres, together with Danon, took part in a tree-planting ceremony at the Grove of Nations in the Jerusalem Forest as a guest of KKL-JNF (the Keren Kayemet Le’Israel-Jewish National Fund) World Chairman Daniel Atar.
“Since its establishment [in 2005], over 100 world leaders have planted a tree in the Grove of Nations as a symbol of peace, cooperation, friendship, life and continuity,” KKL-JNF said in a statement.
“After visiting Yad Vashem, the site that commemorates the worst crimes committed in humankind, planting this tree serves as a symbolic act of life and peace,” Guterres said. “I thank you for the opportunity to plant a tree here, which represents my honest commitment to life and peace.”
Guterres also went to Mount Herzl where he laid wreaths on the graves of Theodor Herzl, known as the father of Zionism, and on the memorial of late Israeli statesman Shimon Peres.
Following those visits, he held a working meeting with President Reuven Rivlin at his Jerusalem residence, where he reaffirmed his commitment to addressing the anti-Israel agenda at the United Nations.
Guterres said calling for Israel’s destruction is a modern form of anti-Semitism.
Rivlin thanked him for his “brave leadership regarding the discrimination against Israel.”
“We hope that working together we can create a more productive partnership between Israel and the U.N. for the sake of our region and for the sake of all humanity,” Rivlin said.
He also spoke of Iranian incitement, saying it is “inconceivable that Iran could have the rights of a member of the United Nations and continue inciting against the State of Israel.”
Iran’s statements calling for Israel’s destruction contradict the values of the U.N., Rivlin said, and pave the way for “the spread of anti-Semitism from this important stage.”
In his meeting with Guterres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also put Iranian hedgemony at the top of the agenda.
“Iran is busy turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment and it wants to use Syria and Lebanon as warfronts against its declared goal to eradicate Israel,” Netanyahu said. “It is also building sites to produce precision-guided missiles toward that end in both Syria and in Lebanon,” he said, stressing that neither Israel nor the U.N. can accept this.
Monday evening Guterres, accompanied by Netanyahu and Danon, will view an exhibition of Israeli innovations at Jerusalem’s Israel Museum.
The following day, the secretary-general will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other P.A. officials in Ramallah. On Wednesday, he plans to visit the Gaza Strip.
This article originally appeared on CBN News, August 28, 2017, and reposted with permission.