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Polish officials demand Israeli apology for ‘racist remarks’ on alleged anti-Semitism

Polish officials demand Israeli apology for ‘racist remarks’ on alleged anti-Semitism

Israeli authorities must "reject this declaration. and apologize", Junior Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski said.

Netanyahu assured the leaders that Israel is keen to cooperate with their countries in many fields.

The diplomatic row between the two countries had been escalating since Friday, when Israeli media reported remarks by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, suggesting Polish complicity in the Holocaust. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to save face Tuesday after a summit with four central European nations was cancelled over a Holocaust-linked dispute with Poland, instead holding meetings with the remaining three leaders.

Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz on Sunday told a Tel Aviv-based worldwide television station that "there were many Poles who collaborated with the Nazis, and like (former PM) Yitzhak Shamir, whose father was murdered, said, "Poles suckle anti-Semitism with their mothers" milk'".

Poland was the first country occupied by Adolf Hitler's regime and never had a collaborationist government.

Thousands of Poles risked being executed by the Nazis to help or shelter Jews.

Katz's comment came amid Polish anger toward Netanyahu, who days earlier said that "Poles cooperated with the Nazis" during the Holocaust. Last year, Poland introduced new legislation making the use of phrases such as "Polish death camps" punishable by up to three years in prison.

Much of Israel's founding generation was made up of Jews who had fled anti-Semitism in Poland or elsewhere in eastern Europe.

"When you have two friends having discussions with each other the only hope you can have is that they will talk directly with each other and improve the situation", Orban said.

Netanyahu met the prime ministers of Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary individually on Tuesday in Jerusalem before a joint lunch. Amid strong criticism from Israel, Warsaw passed a controversial law previous year that prohibits anyone from linking the Polish nation or Polish people as a whole to the Holocaust.

The summit unraveled after Poland withdrew to protest Israeli leaders' comments about Poland's role in the Holocaust.

When attending a Visegrad group summit in Hungary in 2017, Netanyahu's closed-door remarks denouncing European Union demands of Israel as "absolutely crazy" were picked up by a microphone and heard by journalists. "For me, this is an example of the fragile relations between the countries".

"The abandonment or postponement of the Visegrad summit is a major blow to Netanyahu's foreign policy, which he has been developing for several years now", said Eran, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies think tank in Tel Aviv.

It is also undeniable that Polish Jews perished at the hands of their non-Jewish neighbours in isolated cases.