Polish officials may cancel Israel visit amid Holocaust tensions

Polish PM cancels trip to Israel after Netanyahu's Holocaust comment

Polish PM Cancels Israel Visit Amid Holocaust Tensions

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, signs a guest book as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, right, and Sara Netanyahu look on at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019.

The Visegrad Group conference, also known as the V4 summit, was supposed to feature leaders from Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will not attend the planned Monday meeting of the leaders of central European EU members in Israel, essentially because of what the new substitute foreign minister Yisrael Katz said about the role of the Poles in the extermination of Jews during WW2. Poland's Prime Minister considered canceling his attendance at the V4 summit last week until Netanyahu's office corrected the quote and cooled the tension between the two countries.

This was later followed by the acting Israeli foreign minister repeating Netanyahu's words, and adding that Poles "sucked anti-Semitism from their mothers" milk'.

He later told Army Radio on Monday that he was in favor of maintaining relations with Poland but repeated his earlier statements.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Haaretz in Warsaw, "I look forward to seeing the plan once it is presented". The PM thanked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for organizing the event, which he called a historic turning point.

Israel Katz said: "Historical truth can not be changed".

Warsaw has always been at pains to point out that Poland, which was occupied by Nazi Germany, could not have and did not collaborate in the Holocaust although individual Poles gave up Jews to the Nazis.

"I am the son of Holocaust survivors", he said, in his first day in the new job.

He issued a statement acknowledging that "there are certainly pockets of anti-Semitism in Poland" but largely stressing the fact that Poles suffered and put up massive resistance to the Nazis during the war, also helping Jews.

The EU condemns Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria and has said Israel uses excessive force against Palestinians in Gaza.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had touted the meeting as an important step in his outreach to the countries of Central Europe, which have pro-Israeli governments that he is counting on to counter the criticism Israel typically faces in global forums.

At present, it is legally prohibited in Poland to in any way accuse the state of the genocide of Jews that took place across Europe by the Nazis during World War II.

Before the second world war Poland was home to one of the world's largest Jewish communities, which was nearly wiped out by the Nazis.

After an outcry in Israel and the United States, Poland's conservative Law and Justice government backed out of legislation mandating jail terms for anyone suggesting the country had collaborated with the Nazis.

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