Poland has pulled out of this week’s Visegrad Group (V4) summit in Jerusalem, as diplomatic tensions between Israel and Poland continue to worsen.
On Monday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that his country would not send a delegation to the V4 summit in Jerusalem, in protest of comments by Israel’s newly appointed Foreign Minister on anti-Semitism in Poland.
"The words of the Israeli foreign minister are racist and unacceptable,” said Morawiecki on Monday. “It is clear that our foreign minister Czaputowicz will not be travelling to the summit.”
Prime Minister Morawiecki had originally been slated to attend the V4, which opens this Tuesday, but cancelled his appearance over the weekend following a diplomatic row with Israel over his country’s Holocaust censorship law. On Sunday Poland said the country’s foreign minister would be taking Morawiecki’s place.
The spat began last Thursday after Israeli Premier Binyamin Netanyahu flouted Poland’s controversial Holocaust censorship law during the Warsaw Conference.
The law, which was passed last year, prohibits use of the term “Polish death camps”, and bars discussion of collaboration by Poles with the Nazi occupation force in Poland during World War II. Violators could be punished by up to three years in prison. The law drew international criticism, with critics calling the law an attempt to whitewash history.
Netanyahu publicly defied the law during his trip last week, noting that some Poles did collaborate with the German occupation force.
“Poles collaborated with the Nazis,” said Netanyahu in Warsaw Thursday. “See, I’m saying it. It is a fact. And I don’t know a single person who was ever sued because of it.”
After Poland responded to Netanyahu’s comments by downgrading its delegation to the V4 summit, newly-appointed Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) spoke out on anti-Semitism in Poland, quoting comments by former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.
“Poles suckle anti-Semitism from their mother’s milk,” Katz said, quoting Shamir.
The comments quickly drew rebuke from Poland’s ambassador to Israel, who accused Katz of racism.
It is amazing to see how the newly appointed foreign minister expresses himself in a racist and shameful way,” said Ambassador Marek Magierowski.