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Visegrád group cancels summit in Israel after Poland row

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that the leaders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary would instead hold separate meeting with Israeli leaders.

Jews from all over the world participate in the annual “March of the Living” program on the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, as Israel marks annual Holocaust Memorial Day on April 16, 2015. Photo by Yossi Zeliger/Flash90.
Jews from all over the world participate in the annual “March of the Living” program on the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, as Israel marks annual Holocaust Memorial Day on April 16, 2015. Photo by Yossi Zeliger/Flash90.

The Visegrád group of four central European countries has announced it has cancelled their meeting in Israel after Poland’s decision to pull out of the summit following comments by Israel’s foreign minister about alleged Polish collaboration during the Holocaust.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that the leaders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary would instead hold separate meeting with Israeli leaders this week.

“It will not be called Visegrád , because this entails the presence of all four,” an Israeli official said. “It’s going to be a summit with Visegrád members.”

On Sunday, the same day that Netanyahu appointed Yisrael Katz Israel’s new foreign minister, Katz told Israel’s i24 news channel that “I am the son of Holocaust survivors, we will never forgive and never forget, and there were many Poles who collaborated with the Nazis.”

Quoting former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Katz added that “Shamir said that ever Pole sucked anti-Semitism with his mother’s milk. Nobody will tell us how to express our stance and how to honor the dead.”

Polish ambassador to Israel Marek Magierowski called the comments “shameful and racist’ and said Katz’s “really astonishing” remarks were “utterly unacceptable.”

The comments were made after Netanyahu said at the recent Warsaw summit that Poles cooperated with Nazis during the Holocaust, and that no one has been sued for asserting this truth, criticizing Poland’s Holocaust Law, which forbids accusing Poland of complicity with the Nazis under penalty of law.

Morawiecki replied on Twitter that Poland was a victim of Nazi occupation and never cooperated with Germany during World War II.

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