Polish prime minister withdraws from Israel visit

PM Morawiecki will not attend a Jerusalem summit after Benjamin Netanyahu suggested Polish complicity during Holocaust.

    The Polish and Israeli prime ministers attended a conference on the Middle East held in  Warsaw last week [Sean Gallup/Getty Images]
    The Polish and Israeli prime ministers attended a conference on the Middle East held in Warsaw last week [Sean Gallup/Getty Images]

    Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has cancelled a trip to Israel in the wake of reported remarks made by his Israeli counterpart suggesting Polish complicity during the Holocaust, an aide in his office told Polish media on Sunday.

    A government spokeswoman confirmed to the Reuters news agency that Prime Minister Morawiecki will not attend the summit and that Poland will send Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz instead.

    Morawiecki informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin 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 this week.

    'Misquoting' Netanyahu 

    The decision comes after Netanyahu was quoted as saying that "Poles cooperated with the Germans" in the Holocaust.

    Netanyahu's office has insisted that the Israeli leader was "misquoted" and had not implicated all Poles in the Holocaust.

    In a statement, the Israeli prime minister's office said he had not cast any blanket blame, regarding Netanyahu's previous remarks on the question of Polish collaboration with Nazi occupiers.

    Israel's Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari was summoned by the Polish government on Friday and was asked to clarify Netanyahu's comments.

    Morawiecki said in an interview published by Polish news agency PAP on Sunday 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 the European nation 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.

    SOURCE: News agencies