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Visegrad Group cancels Israel summit

February 18, 2019

Israel's acting foreign minister said Poles had "sucked anti-Semitism from their mothers' milk." Poland's prime minister slammed the comments as "unacceptable" and "racist."

Polish and Israel flags
Image: picture-alliance/Pacific Press/J. Ratz

The Visegrad Group of four central European countries have cancelled their meeting in Israel after Poland pulled out in protest against an Israeli minister's comments about alleged Polish collaboration during the Holocaust.

The leaders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary would instead hold separate meetings with Israeli leaders later this week, a spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

Earlier, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced Poland's withdrawal from the summit. He said acting Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz's comments about Poland were "racist" and "unacceptable."

Katz told Israeli television on Sunday that Poles had "collaborated with the Nazis" and "sucked anti-Semitism from their mothers' milk."

The Polish Foreign Ministry said it had summoned Israel's ambassador to Poland, Anna Azari, in response.

Read more: Jews in Poland fight to keep the past alive

Israel Katz
Acting Foreign Minister Israel Katz's comments were "racist," according to Poland's prime ministerImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/S. Scheiner

Netanyahu's Holocaust comments

The cancellation of the Visegrad summit came a day after Morawiecki said he would not personally attend the meeting.

The move came amid Polish outcry over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's comments last week that "Poles cooperated with the Nazis" to kill Jews during Germany's occupation of Poland in World War II.

Warsaw dismissed the Israeli government's claim that Israeli newspapers had misquoted Netanyahu and that he had not intended to implicate all Poles.

amp/rt (AFP, AP, dpa) 

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