Poland demands action over assault of ambassador to Israel

The entrance of the Polish Embassy is seen in Tel Aviv, Israel May 15, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 16 May 2019
0

Poland demands action over assault of ambassador to Israel

  • Poland strongly condemns this xenophobic act of aggression
  • Israel expresses its full sympathy with the Polish ambassador

WARSAW: Poland’s prime minister on Wednesday condemned what he described as a “xenophobic” assault on the country’s ambassador to Israel, who was spat at on a Tel Aviv street at a time of rising tensions between the two nations.

Israeli officials expressed shock at the assault on Marek Magierowski on Tuesday afternoon and were investigating the incident. Israeli police said they had detained and released a 65-year-old man suspected of approaching the ambassador, who was sitting in his car, and spitting at him.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the suspect remained under house arrest until Thursday.

The incident comes amid a bitter standoff between Poland and Israel over how to remember the Holocaust and over demands that Poland pay reparations for former Jewish properties that were seized by Nazi Germany and later nationalized by Poland’s communist regime.

Israeli Ambassador Anna Azari was summoned to the Polish Foreign Ministry in Warsaw on Wednesday over the incident. Michal Dworczyk, the head of Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s office, said the Polish government expects the perpetrator to be punished. Morawiecki expressed his concern at what he described as a “racist” attack.

“Poland strongly condemns this xenophobic act of aggression. Violence against diplomats or any other citizens should never be tolerated,” Morawiecki said.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, said the assault was being investigated and that “we will update our Polish friends” on what is found.

“Israel expresses its full sympathy with the Polish ambassador and shock at the attack,” Nahshon said. “This is a top priority to us, as we are fully committed to diplomats’ safety and security.”

Ties between the two countries became strained in January 2018 when Poland passed a law that criminalized blaming the Polish nation for the crimes of Nazi Germany during World War II. Poland’s conservative nationalist government described it as an effort to end linguistic formulations, such as “Polish death camps,” to refer to the death camps that Germans operated on occupied Polish territory during the war.

However, many people in Israel felt it was an attempt by the Polish government to repress debate and scholarship looking at the cases of those Poles who helped the Nazis in killing Jews during the occupation, and even after the war ended.


Philippines’ Duterte loses patience, orders trash shipped back Canada

Updated 22 May 2019
0

Philippines’ Duterte loses patience, orders trash shipped back Canada

  • Canada says the waste, exported to the Philippines between 2013 and 2014, was a commercial transaction not backed by the Canadian government
  • Canada has since offered to take the rubbish back

MANILA: President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered his government to hire a private shipping company to send 69 containers of garbage back to Canada and leave them within its territorial waters if it refuses to accept the trash, his spokesman said on Wednesday.
“The Philippines as an independent sovereign nation must not be treated as trash by other foreign nation,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told a media briefing.
Canada says the waste, exported to the Philippines between 2013 and 2014, was a commercial transaction not backed by the Canadian government.
Canada has since offered to take the rubbish back and the two countries are in the process of arranging the transfer.
But Canada missed a May 15 deadline set by Manila to take back the shipment, prompting the Philippines to withdraw top diplomats from Canada last week.
“Obviously, Canada is not taking this issue nor our country seriously. The Filipino people are gravely insulted about Canada treating this country as a dump site,” Panelo said.
The Canadian embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Philippines has made several diplomatic protests to Canada since a 2016 court ruling that the garbage be returned.
The consignments were labelled as containing plastics to be recycled in the Philippines but were filled with a variety of rubbish including diapers, newspapers and water bottles.
The issue is not the only one to strain ties between the two countries.
Last year, Duterte ordered the military to cancel a $233 million deal to buy 16 helicopters from Canada, after Ottawa expressed concern they could be used to fight rebels.