After Netanyahu Holocaust Row, Polish PM Won't Attend Summit in Israel

Instead, Poland expected to send foreign minister to Visegrad summit ■ Israeli official on Polish PM's decision: We understand Poland is headed for elections soon

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a conference in Warsaw, Poland, February 14, 2019.
Michael Sohn,AP

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a telephone conversation on Sunday that he will not attend the Visegrad summit in Israel on Monday. 

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz will likely replace Morawiecki at the event, which will be also attended by the leaders of Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

>> Read more: Leaked video, deleted tweet and Polish crisis: Netanyahu's turbulent trip in Warsaw

An Israeli official told Haaretz that Israel is pleased to be hosting the Polish foreign minister at the conference and that everyone hopes the summit will be a success. The source then noted that Israel understands that Poland, too, is slated to hold elections soon. 

The development came after Netanyahu addressed Poland's so-called Holocaust Law during his visit in Warsaw for a summit co-hosted by the United States on the Middle East.

The controversial legislation permits lawsuits against those who attribute complicity in the crimes of the Holocaust to the Polish people.

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid blasted Netanyahu for the diplomatic crisis, taking to Twitter to comment: "Netanyahu has not learned anything, folded and apologized again to the Poles. And after all of this, the prime minister of Poland announced he will not come to Israel. What an embarrassment."

The crisis was sparked when Netanyahu said that Poles did in fact cooperate with the Nazis during the Holocaust and that he was unaware of anyone ever being sued for making this statement. 

He made the remark in response to a question by Haaretz

 Netanyahu's comments were initially quoted on the Jerusalem Post's website as having said that "the Polish nation" cooperated with the Nazis, reigniting diplomatic tensions. Morawiecki reacted on Twitter, writing that Poland never cooperated with Germany during World War II and that his country had been victimized by Nazi occupation.
 
He also threatened that if the comment was not clarified, he would not attend the summit meeting of the Visegrad nations – Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia – in Israel. Polish President Andrzej Duda also said Israel would not be a good site for the summit if Netanyahu's comment had been accurately reported.