Israel confirms Eastern European summit in Jerusalem canceled over Holocaust remark

Tuesday, 2019-02-19 10:28:44
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The file photo shows the visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leaders of V4 countries at a joint press conference in Budapest, Hungary on July 19, 2017. (Source: Xinhua)
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A planned summit of Eastern European countries in Jerusalem was canceled on February 18, Israel's Foreign Ministry confirmed, following a remark by Israeli minister on Poles' accomplice with the Nazi Holocaust.

The summit was scheduled to be held on February 18-19 with prime ministers of the Visegrad Group, which includes Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.

The summit collapsed after Israel's newly-appointed acting Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said on February 17 that Poles "collaborated with the Nazis" during World War II.

Katz also cited Israel's former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, saying that "Shamir's parents were murdered in the Holocaust by Poles."

On February 18 morning, Poland's Ambassador to Israel Marek Magierowski branded the remark "shameful and racist," writing on his Twitter account that Poland considers it "utterly unacceptable."

Later on February 18, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki condemned the remark and canceled the participation of his foreign minister in the summit. Morawiecki previously withdrew his own participation in response to a remark by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said last week that some Poles "cooperated with the Nazis."

After Poland's withdrawal from the meeting, the Czech Republic announced the summit was canceled.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed the meeting will not be held in Jerusalem.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini are already in Israel, and Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis is still planned to arrive.

Netanyahu will meet them separately for bilateral meetings, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

The Visegrad Group meets once a year. After Netanyahu was invited to participate in the meeting in Budapest last year, Jerusalem was supposed to host the 2019 meeting.

The cancel of the summit was a serious blow to Netanyahu's foreign policy. The Israeli leader has been putting efforts over the past years in growing ties with V4 countries as part of his strategy to change the EU consensus on the Palestinians and Iran.