Polish rep headed to Knesset conference despite Foreign Ministry opposition

Parliamentary representatives from nearly 3 dozen countries will be represented at the international conference.

February 19, 2018 16:36
2 minute read.

sraeli lawmakers attend a vote on a bill at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem February 6, 2017. (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)

The Knesset plans to host an international conference of parliamentary directors-general and secretaries-general on Tuesday, with 30 representatives from around the world, including from Poland, despite opposition from the Foreign Ministry.

Agnieszka Kaczmarska, secretary of the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, will arrive at the Knesset as there is ongoing tension between Israel and Poland, after the latter outlawed discussion of Polish complicity in the Holocaust and its prime minister said Jews took part in their own genocide.

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The Foreign Ministry suggested that the Knesset disinvite the Polish representative, Ma’ariv reported.

Knesset director-general Albert Sacharovich, however, declined to withdraw the invitation, which was extended and accepted before the crisis in Israel-Poland relations.

Zionist Union MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin, who has repeatedly called for Israel to take action in response to the new Polish law, said: “As long as the prime minister doesn’t bother calling back the ambassador [to Poland] for discussions, what can we expect from the Knesset?”

Nahmias-Verbin also said she does not expect MKs to protest Kaczmarska’s visit in any way.

Other countries whose parliamentary administrators are expected to be at the Knesset Tuesday are Armenia, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, the European Parliament, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Haiti, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Portugal, Russia, Rwanda, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands, Ukraine and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett condemned the Polish prime minister’s recent remarks, saying “No law and no statement will change the horrible history that took place on Poland’s ground.”

Bennett said that in recent weeks, hundreds of people have asked him to cancel school trips to the death camps in Poland, as a sort of punishment.

“I considered it, and decided to continue the trips. The only solution for Holocaust denial is learning about the Holocaust. The purpose of the trips is to remember the Holocaust, and they are the best tool we have today... There is no replacement for visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau,” he said.

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid continued expressing his disgust with recent developments in Poland.

Lapid said he condemns those who drew swastikas on the Polish embassy, “but forgive me that I’m not in the mood to apologize before the Polish government that passed a law that is borderline, if not totally, Holocaust denial.

“The Jewish state cannot stand by when history is being rewritten,” Lapid said. “There are things that are beyond diplomacy. We should have brought back the ambassador weeks ago, we should have looked them in the eyes and said that we won’t accept this. One of the central ideas of us having a Jewish state is that we don’t have to accept this kind of behavior.”

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