Today and tomorrow, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several of his ministers will hold joint sessions with the Polish Premier Donald Tusk and his ministers in Warsaw. The special event is a symbolic gesture to show the Polish government and people’s support and solidarity with the people with Israel.
This week’s meetings reciprocate a previous joint session held last year in Jerusalem. Poland is the third country to hold such a meeting at the highest governmental level with Israel. The first was with the German cabinet led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, and later there was a similar session with the government of the Czech Republic.
Netanyahu and Tusk will signed a joint declaration emphasizing the friendly relations between the two countries and their special historic partnership.
Jews lived nearly one thousand years on Polish soil, developing a unique culture and contributing to Polish society. But Poland, symbolically, is also the largest Jewish cemetery in the world. Nazi Germany built most of the Nazi death camps on Polish soil, and three million Polish Jews were murdered during the Second World War. Poland, which is a Catholic stronghold, was occupied by Germany between 1939 and 1945, and during the war lost up to six million people of its population.
During the visit Netanyahu and Tusk, together with their ministers, will inaugurate a permanent exhibition in Block 27 (known as the “Jewish block”) in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. The block was renovated and conserved by experts from Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and financed by a $9 million grant from the Israeli government.
As part of the joint statement, Netanyahu will reiterate the Israeli commitment for a two state solution and the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. The Polish leader will reaffirm his country’s commitment to the security and existence of Israel.
Poland renewed its diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992 after the collapse of Communism and the Soviet bloc. Relations have grown stronger since Poland joined NATO and later the European Union. Poland’s close alliance with the United States also contributed to the Warsaw-Jerusalem alliance.
In recent years Poland, together with the Czech Republic, have become among the staunchest supporters of Israel within the E.U.
Israel-Polish relations are, nowadays, manifested openly in growing trade and tourism and, beneath the surface, in close cooperation in the fields of security and intelligence. Israel sold Rafael-made anti-tank missiles and electronic and avionics equipment valued more than $200 million to the Polish army. Pilots from the two air forces have conducted joint exercises as part of the strategic cooperation between the two countries. In the intelligence field, Poland is a solid and trusted partner in the Israeli efforts to collect information on Iran in order to slow down and disrupt what is widely suspected to be Tehran’s push to acquire nuclear weapons.
[Photo: IsraeliPM / Youtube]