Israel To Become First Country Outside Of Europe To Host Meeting Of ‘Visegrad Group’
The prime ministers of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic will gather in Israel on Monday for the first-ever meeting outside of Europe of the so-called Visegrad group. The summit will serve to strengthen the Jewish state’s ties to Eastern European countries amid tensions with Britain, France and Germany, in particular, over the Iran nuclear deal and the stalemated peace process with the Palestinians. Many have criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s cozying up to far-right governments, whose policies nevertheless dovetail more closely with those of Jerusalem. The diplomatic strategy also serves to sow divisions within the European Union, especially as regards the bloc’s ongoing commitment not only to upholding the 2015 atomic agreement but of devising a financial mechanism to allow for continued non-dollar trade with Tehran, thereby circumventing American sanctions. Notably, the Visegrad meeting was nearly canceled over a crisis sparked by the misquotation of comments made by Netanyahu. Speaking about the Holocaust in Warsaw, the premier noted that “Poles” collaborated with the Nazis during World War Two, a statement translated into English as “the Poles” which was then construed as a reference to the entire nation. Warsaw last year passed a law prohibiting blanket claims regarding Poland’s role in the killing of some 6 million Jews, about half of them in death camps on Polish soil run by the Germans. After a major uproar, Israeli officials released an audio clip of Netanyahu’s exact statement and issued a clarification, which the Polish government accepted.