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US Says Israel Must Apologize to Poland in Holocaust Row

US Says Israel Must Apologize to Poland in Holocaust Row

Wednesday, 20 February, 2019 - 11:15
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and acting Foreign Minister Israel Katz. (AFP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
The United States stepped in on Wednesday to address the row between Poland and Israel over the Holocaust, calling on Tel Aviv to apologize after its acting foreign minister said "many Poles" had collaborated with the Nazis.

US ambassador Georgette Mosbacher, asked if Israel Katz should apologize, said the comment "warrants an apology".

Mosbacher said she felt two strong allies like Israel and Poland "shouldn't be using that kind of rhetoric. We are too important to each other not to work these things out."

The row, initially sparked by media reports suggesting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Poles of complicity in the Holocaust, deepened on Monday after the comment by Katz, who also labeled Poles anti-Semites.

Katz's words led Poland to pull out of a planned summit of central European states in Israel.

On Tuesday, Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek said the "shameful, scandalous and slanderous" comments require an "unequivocal and definite" reaction.

Katz is a member of Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party which presently leads the polls ahead of national elections scheduled for April.

Netanyahu, whose office said his initial comments had been misinterpreted, has faced criticism in Israel over what some see as a bid to win allies in central Europe at the expense of revising Holocaust history and whitewashing anti-Semitism.

He had also hoped the Visegrad summit that was boycotted by Poland would burnish his diplomatic credentials as the election campaign picks up.

Netanyahu's office said in a statement that the prime minister, who was in Warsaw for a US-sponsored Middle East conference, had been misquoted by The Jerusalem Post, which issued a corrected story.

He clarified that he "spoke of Poles and not the Polish people or the country of Poland," but the comments infuriated his Polish hosts, who reject the suggestions.

Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, also a member of Netanyahu's Likud, said on Wednesday there were Poles who cooperated with the Nazis and Poles who saved Jews.

"The entire Polish nation cannot be blamed for the Holocaust," he said in an interview with Reshet Beit Radio. "Poland is one of the friendliest countries to Israel... The understandings between us and Poland still stand."

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

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