Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Speaker of the Knesset Reuven Rivlin, Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon, Israeli government ministers, Knesset members and other personalities arrived Tuesday to pay their condolences to the citizens of Poland on the loss of their President, Lech Kaczynski, at the Begin Center in Jerusalem.
President Kaczynski, his wife Maria, and dozens of Poland's most influential ministers, legislators, and personalities were killed April 10 in a plane crash in Smolensk, Russia. The group was arriving to commemorate the anniversary of the slaying of thousands of Polish officers by Soviet forces in the Katyn Forest at the beginning of World War II. No one survived the crash, which killed 96 people.
The Begin Center was chosen by the Polish ambassador because it was a favorite place in Israel of President Kaczynski.
"I’d like to express sorrow over the tragic death of the Polish President, his wife, and his entourage," said Foreign Minister Lieberman. "The Jewish nation and the nation of Israel lost one of the best, most loyal friends we have recently known in the international community."
"Israel's Knesset of 120 members bows its head in memory of the [Polish] parliamentarians who died in the disaster," said Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin. "In particular, the Knesset pays its respect to the memory of the young legislator Arkadiusz Ravitzky, head of the Polish Parliament Friends of Israel."
Immediately following the crash and shocking announcement that all passengers had died, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed solidarity with the Polish people, calling President Kaczynski "a great friend of Israel," and commending him for his efforts in developing Polish-Israel relations.
The public is invited to come to the Begin Center to pay their respects.
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