Netanyahu leaves for Baltic states summit; first sitting Israeli PM to visit Lithuania

Netanyahu became the first Israeli premier to visit Lithuania. 

By: World Israel News Staff

On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  left on a diplomatic visit to Vilnius (Vilna), Lithuania, where he will attend a summit of the Baltic states (B3+1) and will meet with Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis and Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas.

The four leaders are slated to discuss deepening cooperation between their countries.

Netanyahu will also meet with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite at the presidential palace.

In this visit, Netanyahu becomes the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit Lithuania.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Antanas Linkeviciu visited Israel in  September 2017, while President Dalia Grybauskaitė was in Israel in 2015.

Lithuania is considered a very pro-Israel nation that may soon move its embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital.

Netanyahu’s trip is part of Israel’s efforts to improve ties with Eastern European countries who may be more sympathetic to Israel in international bodies than other European Union nations, AFP reported.

While in Lithuania, the Israeli premier will visit several locations with Jewish and historic significance.

He will attend a memorial ceremony at the Ponary memorial site, where the Jews of Vilna were massacred during the Holocaust.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Skvernelis, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius and Fania Brancovskaja, a Holocaust survivor from the Vilna ghetto, will be in attendance.

From June 1941 until July 1944 over 75,000 people were murdered and buried in Ponary forest, most of whom were Jewish, the others were Soviet prisoners of war and local opponents to the Nazi regime.

The Prime Minister will award a medal and certificate to Birute Slapikiene, the granddaughter of a family of “Righteous Among the Nations,” designation bestowed upon gentiles who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. Israel has recognized over 26,500 such individuals.

Netanyahu will also visit the Vilna Choral Synagogue, which survived the Holocaust, where he will meet with members of the Lithuanian Jewish community, which numbers some 3,000.