Benjamin Netanyahu’s comparatively low-key response when Mateusz Morawiecki referred to “Jewish collaborators” in the Holocaust was motivated by his desire to host a summit of Eastern European leaders in Jerusalem.
Mr Netanyahu said on Saturday night that the Polish Prime Minister’s remarks were “outrageous”, but also excused them as a “misunderstanding of history”.
He also did not respond to demands by Israeli politicians to summon Israel’s ambassador in Poland back for consultations.
Israeli diplomats believe this was because he does not want to jeopardise his ambition of hosting the influential Visegrad Group, which is made up of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia — all European Union member states.
Senior sources in Jerusalem say the Israeli Prime Minister is not interested in a diplomatic crisis with the nationalist government in Warsaw, since he is relying on the four countries to be Israel’s advocates in Europe.
Mr Netanyahu is understood to have met a senior adviser of the Hungarian government in Jerusalem last Tuesday to discuss the possibility of Israel hosting a summit.
He attended a Visegrad meeting in Budapest in July 2017 and lobbied the leaders there to advocate Israel’s case in Brussels and oppose any decisions against its West Bank settlement policy.