Edited by: JV Staff
Mateusz Morawiecki reportedly considering cancelling participation in conference in Israel following Netanyahu remarks about Holocaust law
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is “seriously considering” cancelling his participation in the Visegrad conference, which is scheduled to be held in Israel next week, in the wake of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s comments on the Polish Holocaust law, Kan 11 News reported on Thursday evening.
The Visegrad group is made up of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. Next week’s meeting would be the first time the group convenes in Israel.
Earlier, Netanyahu publicly flouted the Holocaust law during a state visit to Warsaw.
“Poles collaborated with the Nazis,” said Netanyahu in Warsaw Thursday. “See, I’m saying it. It is a fact. And I don’t know a single person who was ever sued because of it.”
Netanyahu added that the issue of Poland’s Holocaust censorship law was raised during his meeting with Morawiecki.
In response, Morawiecki’s office released a statement calling Netanyahu’s comments “surprising”.
Morawiecki also tweeted Thursday evening, writing that there was “no Polish regime” during the Nazi occupation, emphasizing that both Jews and Poles suffered under German rule.
The Holocaust law, originally approved in January of 2018m made the use of the term “Polish death camp” punishable by up to three years in prison.
The legislation prompted sharp protests from Israel, as well as criticism by the United States, among other countries.
Poland subsequently changed the legislation to remove fines and jail terms of up to three years for anyone found guilty of ascribing Nazi crimes to the Polish nation or state.
According to a JTA report, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised the issue of Holocaust-era property restitution during his first official visit to Poland.
Poland is the only country in the European Union that has not passed comprehensive national legislation to return, or provide compensation for, private property confiscated by the Nazis or nationalized by the communist regime.
At a joint appearance Wednesday in Warsaw with the Polish minister of foreign affairs, Pompeo praised the U.S.-Poland relationship and the “indomitable Polish spirit.”
He also saluted Polish Jewish partisan Frank Blaichman, who immigrated to the United States after World War II and became a prosperous real estate developer in New York. Blaichman, who died in late December at 96, was “a testament to the resilience of the Polish people, Pompeo said.
As part of his remarks, Pompeo called on the Polish government to resolve outstanding restitution issues.
“We also appreciate the importance of resolving outstanding issues of the past, and I urge my Polish colleagues to move forward with comprehensive private property restitution legislation for those who lost property during the Holocaust era,” he said.
Gideon Taylor, chair of operations for the World Jewish Restitution Organization, said he welcomed Pompeo’s “expression of his commitment to securing justice for Holocaust survivors and their families. This is a powerful affirmation of the importance of this issue to the United States.” (INN & JTA)
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