A crisis in Polish-Israeli relations erupted yesterday, after Prime Minister Netanyahu said that the Poles had collaborated with Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. The comment by the Israeli leader was made after a wreath-laying ceremony that was attended by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence – at the Warsaw Ghetto ‘Heroes Monument’. In response to Netanyahu’s statement, his Polish counterpart Morawiecki has considered canceling his participation in the Visegrád Group’s conference, which is scheduled to be held in Israel next week. Furthermore, Polish President Andrzej Duda wrote on his Twitter account that the conference in Israel should be canceled and held in Poland instead.
Israeli Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari immediately sent a letter to the Polish prime minister’s bureau and attempted to clarify the situation, in which she claimed that Prime Minister Netanyahu had not said that the Polish nation committed crimes against the Jews, but only that “no one had been prosecuted under the Holocaust law for saying that Polish citizens had collaborated.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence after the wreath-laying ceremony, during which he reiterated the strong alliance between Washington and Jerusalem. “Mr. Vice Preside, the Fact that we are meeting here – at the site of the Warsaw ghetto- is, as you said, deeply meaningful. It’s merely some 75 years ago that the Jewish people were absolutely defenseless. We were slaughtered by the millions here, by the Nazis and their collaborators, and we could do nothing. I think it’s significant that in this hour of despair, right here on this ground, young Jewish heroes – with literally their last ounce of strength, withstood against the thousands of Nazis troops. They said if we must die let us die as free men and women and let us save the honor of the Jewish people. Little did they know that they were actually, in many ways, symbolizing the rebirth of the Jewish people, the rebirth of the Jewish state which was soon to come, and the rebirth of the Jewish army – that protects now the Jewish future,” the Israeli Prime Minister said.
At the end of their meeting, Netanyahu responded to a reporter’s question about the Trump Administration’s so-called “deal of the century,” saying “We know that we have no better friend in the world than the United States of America. And we have, I’m sure, an equal knowledge on your part that you have no better friend and ally than Israel. I know that you know this. I know that President Trump knows this. We’ve appreciated his stalwart stance, his decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem, the support of your administration for Israel at the United Nations which has been stellar. This conference in which you have brought together some sixty foreign ministers and Arab foreign ministers with an Israeli prime minister for the first time, to stand together against Iran in such clarity, such unity. I think that this is something that we deeply appreciate.”