Poland shuns Israel talks over racism


Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Middle East summit in Warsaw, February 2019Image copyright

Image caption

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (L) met Mr Netanyahu in Warsaw this month

Poland has pulled out of a summit of central European leaders in Israel because of comments on the Holocaust by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Netanyahu’s comments were “racist and unacceptable”, Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki was quoted as saying ahead of Tuesday’s summit in Jerusalem.

Mr Netanyahu had said Poles were complicit in the Holocaust – Nazi Germany’s murder of six million Jews.

Israel later clarified that he had not been talking about the Polish nation.

The meeting hosted by Israel was meant to bring together the four-nation Visegrad Group: Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.

On Sunday Mr Morawiecki himself pulled out, saying Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz would go instead, but now the country has pulled out of the summit completely.

Mr Netanyahu had been quoted in Israeli media as saying “Poles co-operated with the Germans” during the Holocaust.

He later issued a clarification saying he was not referring to the Polish nation or all Polish people.

The Polish government says cancellation of the visit is “an unequivocal signal to other governments and international opinion that historical truth is fundamental”.

About six million Polish citizens died in World War Two, of whom about three million were Jews.

The Nazis built many of their most notorious death camps in Poland after occupying the country at the beginning of the war in 1939.

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