Israel’s President Rivlin Thanks Serbia over Holocaust Restitution Law

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin reviews the honour guard upon his arrival at the Serbia Palace to meet with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, July 26, 2018. Rivlin is on a one-day official visit to Serbia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin praised Serbia for enacting a new law allowing restitution to the Jewish community of heirless and unclaimed property seized from Jews during the Holocaust.

Rivlin became the first Israeli president to visit Serbia when he was hosted by the country’s President Aleksander Vucic Thursday. After talks with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic, Rivlin applauded the 2016 bill guaranteeing restitution to Jews arguing it should serve as template for other countries.

Rivlin also noted Serbia had once been home to one of the oldest Jewish communities outside the land of Israel, with the earliest settlers arriving in the days of the Roman Empire.

Aware of the suffering of Serbian Jews during the Holocaust, Rivlin said that this is a grim chapter in history that must never be forgotten.

Rivlin has arrived in Serbia from neighboring Croatia where he met with top officials and visited the site of a WWII concentration camp run by a pro-Nazi puppet regime where tens of thousands of Jews, Serbs and Roma were murdered.

Croatian state TV has quoted Rivlin as saying that facing up to crimes of the past is a moral obligation for any society.

Rivlin, who returned to Israel after his brief visit, was primarily in Serbia for the naming of a street in memory of Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl, whose parents had lived in the country and are buried there.

The naming of the street was in honor of the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel.

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