Israeli charged for spitting at Polish ambassador

1 min 14Approximate reading time

A Tel Aviv court on Thursday charged a 65-year-old Israeli man for allegedly spitting at the Polish ambassador, the police said, amid heightened diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

Polish ambassador Marek Magierowski was sitting in his car on Tuesday when a man approached and "spat at him", police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Eric Lederman, from the city of Herzliya north of Tel Aviv, was charged with assault against the diplomat and with threatening his driver, the police said Thursday.

Israel's envoy to Poland Anna Azari was summoned to the Polish foreign ministry in Warsaw over the incident, Polish foreign ministry spokeswoman Ewa Suwara said.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called it a "xenophobic act of aggression" while President Andrzej Duda said it appeared to be an "anti-Polish act of hatred".

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon expressed "our fullest sympathy to the ambassador and our shock at the attack."

The alleged incident came a day after Poland cancelled a visit by Israeli officials over their intention to raise the issue of the restitution of Jewish properties seized during the Holocaust, a matter Warsaw insists is closed.

Last year, Warsaw passed a law that made it illegal to accuse the Polish nation or state of complicity in Nazi German war crimes.

The move sparked an outcry from Israel, which saw it as an attempt to ban testimonials on Polish crimes against Jews.

In response, Warsaw amended the law to remove the possibility of fines or a prison sentence.

In February, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz drew Poland's ire by quoting late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir saying "Poles suckle anti-Semitism with their mothers' milk".

In April, the World Jewish Congress condemned a Polish town after reports that residents burnt an effigy "made to look like a stereotypical Jew" in a revival of an old Easter tradition.

Lederman is set to appear in court again on June 23, and is banned from approaching Poland's embassy in Tel Aviv for 30 days.