August 18, 2005

Israel seeks annual UN holocaust memorial day

By Bill Rigby

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Israel is urging the United
Nations to establish an annual international holocaust memorial
day, a top Israeli diplomat said on Thursday.

An Israeli draft resolution, which it hopes will be adopted
by the 191-member General Assembly during its 60th session
opening next month, proposes January 27 as a day to commemorate
holocaust victims, marking the day in 1945 when Russian troops
liberated Auschwitz, the largest Nazi death camp.

More than 30 European countries support Israel's plan,
British Deputy Ambassador Adam Thomson said in a letter to U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Assembly President Jean Ping
made public on Thursday.

"It is a universal resolution," said Israeli Deputy U.N.
Ambassador Daniel Carmon in an interview. "A nonpolitical
remembrance of the most atrocious event that happened in the
last century -- it should be acknowledged by the United

Six million Jews were exterminated in Nazi camps and
millions of others including Poles, homosexuals, Soviet
prisoners and Gypsies perished or were used as slave labor in
the camps.

The United Nations held a special session earlier this year
to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the holocaust.

But Israel would like to see the world body devote more
resources to the subject, including worldwide education
programs, encouraging the preservation of Nazi camps and
rejecting denials the holocaust took place.

Last January 27, more than 40 world leaders gathered at
Auschwitz to mark its liberation, but Israel wants the day to
become a regular commemoration. Israel holds its own holocaust
remembrance day, Yom Hashoah, in either April or May, but the
event has not taken on international prominence.

The 28-member committee which sets the Assembly's agenda is
to discuss Israel's resolution in the next few weeks, and it is
widely expected that the Assembly will vote on the proposal
during its next year-long session.