Polish officials seek Israeli apology for 'racist' remarks

Polish officials seek Israeli apology for 'racist' remarks
The row between Poland and Israel escalates after officials demand apology for comments on the alleged anti-Semitism of Poles during the Nazi occupation of the country.
2 min read
19 February, 2019
The Polish premier described the Israeli comments as 'racist and unacceptable'. [Getty]

Senior Polish officials on Tuesday demanded Israel apologise for comments on the alleged anti-Semitism of Poles in a row which led Warsaw to pull out of a Jerusalem summit.

Israeli authorities must "reject this declaration... and apologise", Junior Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski said.

He was referring to Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz's comments at the weekend that "Poles suckle anti-Semitism with their mothers' milk".

Katz also said "there were many Poles who collaborated with the Nazis."

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki withdrew from a summit of Central European nations in Jerusalem this week after the latest salvo in a long row between Poland and Israel over history, triggering the collapse of the entire meeting.

The Visegrad group meeting of four Central European nations had been touted by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as an important step in his outreach to pro-Israel central European governments.

Morawiecki's chief of staff Marek Suski said if no apology was forthcoming "relations will really take a frosty turn".

The Polish premier on Monday described the comments as "racist and unacceptable", adding that Katz was "trying to insult the Poles by distorting history".

The row between Poland and Israel broke out last week when Netanyahu - who was quoted in Haaretz newspaper as saying that "the Poles collaborated with the Nazis" - was condemned in Poland for appearing to accuse all Polish people of cooperating with Nazi Germany during World War II. 

Warsaw has long been at pains to state that Poland, which was occupied by Nazi Germany, did not collaborate in the Holocaust although individual Poles gave up Jews to the Nazis.

The fresh controversy in Polish-Israeli ties comes after a row last year over a Polish law that made it illegal to accuse the Polish nation or state of complicity in Nazi German crimes.

After protests from Israel and the US, Poland amended the law to remove the possibility of fines or a prison sentence.

Poland was occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II and lost six million citizens including three million Jews.

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