Poland’s prime minister said on Monday Warsaw was pulling out of a summit in Jerusalem after a senior Israeli politician reportedly claimed that Poles “suckled anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk.”
The move by Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki came after Israel’s interim foreign minister, Israel Katz, reportedly accused “many Poles” of collaborating with the German Nazis during the Holocaust.
Poland’s PAP news agency reported that the summit of the Visegrad Group, a regional cooperation platform which brings together Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, planned in Jerusalem on Monday and Tuesday had been called off.
Amid an escalating spat between Poland and Israel, Morawiecki earlier on Monday slammed Katz for “reprehensible, unacceptable and simply racist words.”
Morawiecki told reporters: “This is an example of racist anti-Polonism.”
Morawiecki said that Poles, alongside Jews and Roma, had suffered the most during World War II.
He added that Poles had saved a huge number of Jews after Nazi Germany instigated the Holocaust.
The Polish prime minister earlier announced he would not take part in a meeting of the Visegrad Group in Jerusalem. He had delegated Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz to attend the gathering.
Tensions between Poland and Israel flared after comments reportedly made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a conference on the Middle East in Warsaw last week.
Netanyahu’s reported comments were seen as suggesting Polish complicity in the Holocaust.
But Netanyahu’s office has said that the Israeli prime minister “spoke of Poles and not the Polish people or the country of Poland. This was misquoted and misrepresented in press reports and was subsequently corrected by the journalist who issued the initial misstatement.”
The efforts of thousands of Poles who risked their lives by helping Jews during World War II have been recognised by Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial.