BOYCOTT! Morawiecki calls off V4 summit in Israel as diplomatic row escalates following ‘reprehensible and racist’ swipe from Israeli FM
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has cancelled Poland’s participation at the Visegrad Group (V4) summit in Israel after the country’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, accused Poland of collaborating with Nazi Germany and said: “Poles suckle anti-Semitism with their mothers' milk."
Having earlier demanded “a firm response to the reprehensible, unacceptable and simply racist words” Morawiecki said he now had no other choice than to cancel Poland’s participation.
He said: "I made the decision to cancel the previously planned visit of the Polish delegation to the V4 summit in Israel; therefore Minister of Foreign Affairs Jacek Czaputowicz will not go there either.
"I made such a decision because the wording of Mr Katz is absolutely unacceptable, it is not only unacceptable in diplomacy, but it is also absolutely unacceptable for me in the public sphere."
He added that Poles were the most victimised people, along with Jews and Roma, during the Second World War and that Poles suffered enormous sacrifice during the war by saving the lives of tens of thousands of Jews.
On Sunday, Israel’s new acting foreign minister, Israel Katz, referring to the words earlier attributed by Israeli media to the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (that the Poles had collaborated with the Nazis in the Holocaust) said that the Israeli prime minister had expressed himself clearly.
On Sunday Katz told Israel's i24 television: "I am a son of Holocaust survivors.
“The memory of the Holocaust is something we cannot compromise about, it is something clear and we won’t forget or forgive.
“Poles collaborated with the Nazis, and as Yitzhak Shamir [Israel's former prime minister], whose father was murdered by Poles, said, they suckle anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk."
The cancellation escalates the diplomatic row that has broken out between Poland and Israel after a Jewish newspaper seemingly misquoted Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Jerusalem Post reported that whilst in Warsaw for the Middle East Conference last week, Netanyahu had said “The Poles collaborated” with the Nazis.
Israeli Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari denied the accusations, explaining that the Israeli PM had said “Poles collaborated” – the latter meaning ‘some Poles’, rather than the whole nation.
Earlier, American journalist Andrea Mitchell came under fire for reporting that Jews were “fighting against the Polish and Nazi regime” in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Following the latest development, PM Morawiecki said that the Polish Foreign Minister had been in contact with Poland's partners in the Visegrad Group.
He said: "They fully understand and accept it, and the prime ministers understand that this meeting in Jerusalem will not take place in the V4 format.
"I have been warning them (other V4 countries) that there is an election campaign in Israel, ahead of the elections scheduled for early April.
“This is this factor that has raised the temperature of the political dispute, so there is a risk that our friends from the Visegrad Group will be attacked, will be insulted, just as Israel's Foreign Minister, Mr. Katz, in his racist statement, tried to offend Poles by falsifying history."
The summit of the Central European regional group V4 (comprising the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) was scheduled to take place in Jerusalem this Monday and Tuesday.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the meeting had now been cancelled.
He told reporters: "No V4 meeting in Israel is going to happen."