Lech Kaczynski 311.
(photo credit: AP)
Polish President Lech Kaczynski, killed along with over 100 others when his plane went down near the airport in Smolensk, Russia Saturday morning, will be remembered fondly in Israel.
Kaczynski held distinctly pro-Israeli views, and spoke out in defense of Israel, quite often against prevalent European positions. He visited Israel several times during his presidency.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent a message of solidarity with the Polish people on behalf of the government and people of Israel. "I knew President Kaczynski as a Polish patriot, as a great friend of Israel and as a leader who was very active on behalf of his people," Netanyahu wrote, adding, "President Kaczynski led an important process for opening a new page in relations between the Polish and Jewish people and developed Polish-Israeli relations."
"During this painful hour we bow our heads, together with all of the citizens of Israel, over the huge loss to the Polish people and to all nations that seek freedom and peace," Netanyahu said.
President Shimon Peres called President Kaczynski a personal friend in his message, saying, "the news of the tragic accident that has taken the lives of my friend, President Lech Kaczynski, his wife Maria Kaczynska, and prominent members of Poland's leadership and its Parliament, has been received with a great deal of pain, shock and distress."
Peres also stressed Kaczynski's contribution to Jewish-Polish relations, saying that "President Kaczynski and his wife did much to promote closer ties between the Polish and Jewish peoples, making a significant contribution to the healing process of the scars of the past and the building of a common better future."
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the Israeli people share the
grief of the Polish people at the death of Polish President Lech
Kaczynski, adding that he was a true friend of Israel as evidenced by
his important contribution to the formation of strategic relations
between Israel and Poland.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressed
shock and deep sorrow at the crash, saying President Kaczynski was a
great friend of Israel, and his death was a loss to his people and the
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