Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, has canceled his trip to Jerusalem, where he was going to take part in the Visegrad Group leaders and Israel summit. Gazeta Wyborcza connects this decision with the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s, statement about the Poles collaboration with the Nazis during the Second World War.
The head of the Polish Prime Minister’s Office, Mikhail Dvorchik, announced that Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz will represent Warsaw at the summit, reported Polish Television. Apart from Poland and Israel, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary are scheduled to take part in the summit. Morawiecki informed Netanyahu about his decision personally during a telephone conversation, reported Poland’s wPolityce news website.
Morawiecki canceled the trip to Jerusalem as a result of a diplomatic scandal caused by Netanyahu’s words during his visit to Poland, where Netanyahu visited the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. During a speech at the museum, journalists asked the politician whether he considers Poland to be responsible for the death of Jews during the Holocaust. A number of media outlets, including The Jerusalem Post, misquoted Netanyahu’s response stating that Prime minister commented on the entire Polish nation cooperation in the Holocaust. Later, the Israel Government Press Office clarified that he meant only the individual Polish citizens who collaborated with the Nazis.
“Poland’s participation in the summit is in question after the media, including The Jerusalem Post, incorrectly quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comments made in Poland at a closed briefing with Israeli journalists,” wrote the newspaper, acknowledging the mistake.
Shortly after the publication of Netanyahu’s words, Polish President Andrzej Duda wrote on Twitter: “If Netanyahu’s words sounded exactly as the media quoted them, then I’m ready to offer the residence of the President of Poland for the meeting of the Visegrad Group. In this situation, Israel is not a suitable place to meet.”
The subject of the Holocaust has repeatedly become the reason for the aggravation of diplomatic relations between Israel and Poland. Israel expressed dissatisfaction with Poland’s draft law that introduced criminal responsibility for accusing Poles of war crimes during World War II. The Israel authorities interpreted it as an attempt to deny the genocide of the Jews.
President Andrzej Duda signed the bill, however, in June 2018, at the request of the Prime Minister, the Sejm of the Republic of Poland excluded the punishment for spreading information about the involvement of Poles in the Holocaust from the text of the document.