Polish PM cancels trip to Israel after Netanyahu's Holocaust comment

Israel Resilience party chairman Benny Gantz speaks at the 55th Munich Security Conference in southern Germany

Israel Resilience party chairman Benny Gantz speaks at the 55th Munich Security Conference in southern Germany

With the Hungarian and Slovak prime ministers already in Israel, bilateral meetings will take place instead, according to announcements by Czech Prime Minister Andrei Babis and Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.

The planned five-way summit in Jerusalem between Israel and four Central European nations-known as the Visegrad group-was cancelled Monday after Poland withdrew from the conference in protest at remarks about his country's role in the Holocaust.

Netanyahu had touted the meeting as an important step in his outreach to the countries of Central Europe, whose pro-Israeli governments he is counting on to counter the criticism Israel typically faces in global forums.

Tensions between Israel and Poland also rose last year after Poland introduced new legislation that would have made the use of phrases such as "Polish death camps" punishable by up to three years in prison.

Poland's prime minister on Monday cancelled Warsaw's participation in a Jerusalem summit, accusing an Israeli minister of "racist" comments about the actions of Poles during the Holocaust, further souring relations between the two nations.

Polish ambassador to Israel Marek Magierowski tweeted on Sunday: "It is really astonishing that the newly appointed foreign minister of Israel quotes such a shameful and racist remark".

Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to appoint Katz as acting foreign minister came after an advocacy group, the Movement for Quality Government, went to court to press the prime minister to stop serving as foreign minister as well.

Netanyahu was in Warsaw last week for a two-day summit on the Middle East, co-hosted by Poland and the United States, which focused on isolating Iran while building Arab-Israeli ties.

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz was due to replace Morawiecki, but a senior government official in Warsaw said today that this was now under a "question mark" following comments by Israel's diplomatic chief Israel Katz. Collaborated with the Nazis.

Jewish leaders in Poland say they are offended Israel's acting foreign minister said Poles "sucked anti-Semitism with their mothers' milk".

Katz doubled down on Netanyahu's comments during his interview Sunday night and said, "Poles suckled anti-Semitism from their mothers' milk".

Poland was the first occupation of Adolf Hitler's regime and never had a collaborationist government.

Before World War Two Poland was home to one of the world's biggest Jewish communities which was nearly wiped out by the Nazis.

Many Poles still refuse to accept research showing thousands of their countrymen participated in the Holocaust in addition to thousands of others who risked their lives to help the Jews.

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