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Munich Security Conference
Polish PM cancels trip to Israel after Netanyahu's Holocaust comment

18 February, 2019

The V4 summit in Israel was a planned gathering of leaders from Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary.

"The prime ministers of Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary will use the visit for bilateral meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as well as a trilateral meeting", she added, speaking for Slovak premier Peter Pellegrini, who now chairs the V4 group.

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.

Netanyahu had touted the meeting as an important step in his outreach to the countries of Central Europe, whose pro-Israeli governments he is counting on to counter the criticism Israel typically faces in worldwide forums.

The developments mark a new low in a bitter conflict over how to remember and characterize Polish actions toward Jews during the German occupation of Poland in World War II.

Netanyahu - who was initially quoted in Haaretz newspaper as saying that "The Poles collaborated with the Nazis" - has been condemned in Poland for appearing to accuse all Polish people of cooperating with Germany during World War II.

"Together with the prime minister we will continue to lead the State of Israel's foreign policy to new achievements", Katz, 63, said on Twitter.

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Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to appoint Katz as acting foreign minister came after an advocacy group, the Movement for Quality Government, went to court to press the prime minister to stop serving as foreign minister as well.

But Poland, where sensitivities over the issue of its behaviour during the Holocaust are high, called in Israeli envoy Anna Azari and said doubts remained about what Netanyahu said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had touted the meeting as an important step in his outreach to the countries of Central Europe, which have pro-Israeli governments that he is counting on to counter the criticism Israel typically faces in global forums. The head of the Polish Prime Minister's Office said Mateusz Morawiecki could not attend the V4 meeting under the circumstances.

"Poles collaborated with the Nazis, definitely".

He then vowed that no one would change the historical truth of what happened. "You can't sugarcoat this history", he said.

However, Holocaust researchers have collected ample evidence of Polish villagers who murdered Jews fleeing the Nazis, or Polish blackmailers who preyed on the Jews for financial gain.

Many Poles still refuse to accept research showing thousands of their countrymen participated in the Holocaust in addition to thousands of others who risked their lives to help the Jews.

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