Israel’s foreign minister attempted to defuse an ongoing diplomatic crisis with Poland, but refused Poland’s demands for an apology over remarks the foreign minister made last week regarding anti-Semitism in Poland.
Speaking with Israel’s Kan, Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz emphasized the “close cooperation” between Israel and Poland, and Warsaw’s efforts to stabilize the Middle East, referencing the recent Warsaw conference.
"The foreign policy of the Polish government entails close cooperation with Israel," Katz said, noting Poland’s "significant contribution to the safety and stability" in the Middle East.
Katz refused to apologize for his comments last Sunday, when Katz defended Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after Netanyahu publicly flouted Poland’s controversial Holocaust censorship law, which bans discussion of collaboration by Poles with the Nazis occupation during World War II.
“Poles collaborated with the Nazis,” Netanyahu said in Warsaw. “See, I’m saying it. It is a fact. And I don’t know a single person who was ever sued because of it.”
Following criticism by the Polish government, and the downgrading of a Polish delegation to a summit in Jerusalem, Katz defended Netanyahu while quoting Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.
“The memory of the Holocaust is something we cannot compromise about, it is something clear and we won’t forget or forgive. Poles collaborated with the Nazis, and as Yitzhak Shamir, whose father was murdered by Poles, said, ‘they suckle anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk’.”
Katz’s comments quickly drew condemnation from Poland, which labelled the comments “racist”.