Polish PM cancels trip to Israel in wake of comments on Poles in Holocaust
In a diplomatic protest over Prime Minister Netanyahu's remarks that 'Poles cooperated with the Nazis,' Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki sends his Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz to attend the Weisgrad summit due to take place in Israel instead of him.
Poland's Prime Minister on Sunday cancelled a trip to Israel in the wake of reported remarks made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggesting Polish complicity during the Holocaust, an aide in his office told Polish media on Sunday.
Netanyahu was asked Thursday in Warsaw about the issue by a reporter and replied: "Here I am saying Poles cooperated with the Nazis. I know the history and I don't whitewash it. I bring it up."
A government spokeswoman confirmed to Reuters that Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will not attend the Weisgrad summit and that Poland will send foreign minister Jacek Czaputowicz instead.
Morawiecki informed Netanyahu of his decision to cancel his visit in a telephone call on Sunday afternoon, spokeswoman Joanna Kopcinska said.
The summit of four central and Eastern European countries is set to be held in Jerusalem on Monday.
Poland's government has sought to debunk references of potential Polish collaboration in the Holocaust, in an effort to "fight for the truth," Morawiecki told Poland's parliament last year.
Netanyahu's office said in a statement the prime minister, who was in Warsaw for a US-sponsored Middle East conference when he made the comments, had been misquoted by The Jerusalem Post, which issued a corrected story.
In a later statement, Netanyahu's office said in his remarks on the question of Polish collaboration with Nazi occupiers, he had not cast any blanket blame.
Israel's ambassador to Poland Anna Azari was summoned by Poland's government on Friday and was asked to clarify Netanyahu's comments.
Morawiecki said in an interview published on Sunday by Polish news agency PAP that Azari explained that Netanyahu was referring to individual cases of Poles collaborating with Nazis.
Tensions between Israel and Poland ran high last year after Poland introduced new legislation that would make the use of phrases such as "Polish death camps" punishable by up to three years in prison.
After pressure from the US government and an outcry in Israel, Poland watered down the legislation, removing the prison sentences.
Many Poles still refuse to accept research showing thousands participated in the Holocaust in addition to the thousands who risked their lives to help the Jews.