1058 GMT August 22, 2019
The developments mark a new low in a bitter conflict between Poland and Israel over how to remember and characterize Polish actions toward Jews during the German occupation of Poland in World War II, AP wrote.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been due to meet with the leaders of four Central European nations known as the Visegrad group. With the Hungarian and Slovak prime ministers already in Israel and the Czech leader still planning to go, bilateral meetings were to go ahead instead.
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 international forums.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had already announced on Sunday that he was pulling out of the meeting after a comment by Netanyahu last week about Polish cooperation with Nazis.
Morawiecki canceled Polish participation altogether after the comments made by Israel’s acting foreign minister, Israel Katz, which Morawiecki denounced as “racist” and “absolutely unacceptable.”
Poland’s Foreign Ministry also summoned the Israeli ambassador, Anna Azari, to demand a second set of clarifications in recent days.
Katz made his remarks Sunday in an interview on Reshet 13 TV.
“Poles collaborated with the Nazis, definitely. Collaborated with the Nazis. As (former Israeli prime minister) Yitzhak Shamir said – his father was murdered by Poles – he said that from his point of view they sucked anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk. You can’t sugarcoat this history,” he said.
Jewish leaders in Poland issued a statement saying that Shamir’s words were “unjust already when they were first said, in 1989, when Polish-Israeli relations were just beginning to be rebuilt, after the long night of communism.”
“They are even more unjust today, 30 years later,” the statement said.
Poland was the first country invaded and occupied by Adolf Hitler’s regime and never had a collaborationist government. Members of Poland’s resistance and government-in-exile struggled to warn the world about the killing of Jews, and thousands of Poles risked their lives to help Jews.