After controversial statements by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the role of Poland in the Holocaust, the government in Warsaw reacted irritably. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki canceled an Israel trip planned for Monday.
Netanyahu had previously been quoted by the Jerusalem Post, among others, at the Middle East Conference in Warsaw, saying, „The Poles certainly collaborated with the Nazis.“
The rejection of Morawiecki, a government official told Polish media. Instead of the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz will take part in the two-day meeting of the Visegrad Group – Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia – in Israel. Representatives of the governments of the Eastern European countries want to meet there with their Israeli colleagues.
The head of the Prime Minister’s office said Morawiecki had informed Netanyahu of his decision by phone on Sunday. This is „a signal that the historical truth is a fundamental issue for Poland, and the defense of Poland’s reputation is and always will be decisive,“ said Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek.
An argument that has been smoldering for a long time
Later, both Netanyahu and the „Jerusalem Post“ said that the head of the Israeli government had been misquoted and spoke of „Poland“ instead of „the Poles“ – which could be understood as meaning the entire Polish population. It was meant to refer to some Poles who participated in the killing of Jews during the Holocaust. However, the Warsaw government had not been satisfied with this explanation.
Already last year, Warsaw and Jerusalem had a dispute over a new Polish law that forbids the Polish nation to be responsible for cooperation with the National Socialists in the Holocaust. Netanyahu was outraged by Morawiecki at the time when this Polish perpetrator of the Holocaust was said to be the equivalent of Jewish perpetrators.