Holocaust row: Poland shuns Israel talks over Netanyahu 'racism'

The Visegrad Group conference, also known as the V4 summit, was supposed to feature leaders from Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary.

"The prime ministers of Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary will use the visit for bilateral meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as well as a trilateral meeting", she added, speaking for Slovak premier Peter Pellegrini, who now chairs the V4 group.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki cancelled a visit to Israel, saying that Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz would travel to the summit instead.

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 worldwide forums.

The Polish decision is a blow for Netanyahu, who had hoped the Visegrad summit would burnish his diplomatic credentials ahead of Israel's April 9 election.

"There will be no full V4 meeting (it requires the presence of all four)".

Israel has clarified the issue of the alleged statement by Benjamin Netanyahu about Polish collaboration with the Nazis, a Polish high official has said.

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".

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had already announced Sunday that he was pulling out of the meeting after a comment by Netanyahu last week about Polish cooperation with Nazis. As (former Israeli Prime Minister) Yitzhak Shamir said-his father was murdered by Poles-he said that from his point of view they sucked anti-Semitism with their mothers' milk.

This comes after earlier in the day Polish authorities have decided not to send a delegation to attend a summit in Jerusalem after "racist" comments voiced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "You can't sugarcoat this history", he said.

Likud Minister Israel Katz attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on February 17, 2019. Unlike other countries occupied by Germany, Poland did not have collaborationist government at the time.

At present, it is legally prohibited in Poland to in any way accuse the state of the genocide of Jews that took place across Europe by the Nazis during World War II.

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 - and feel the West has failed to recognise Poland's own wartime suffering.

  • Tracy Klein