Polish President, Friend of Israel and 'Promoter of Peace,' Dies in Plane Crash

By Barak Ravid (Haaretz) and Haaretz Service

Published April 10, 2010.

Dozens of top Israeli officials sent their condolences Saturday to the Polish people after Polish President Lech Kaczynski was killed as his plane crashed on approach to Smolensk airport in western Russia, along with his wife and top Polish officials.

“We share in the heavy grief of the Polish people over the death of their President Kaczynski, his wife, and other Polish delegates,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu said that he knew the Polish President well, adding that “he was a true Polish patriot, a great friend of Israel and a leader who acted on his people’s behalf and to promote world peace.”

Netanyahu met the Polish President in January as part of the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. “Kaczynski led an important procedure of turning over a new page with the Jewish people and developed ties between Poland and Israel.”

President Shimon Peres sent a letter of condolence to the Polish people saying that “Israel is shocked by the grave disaster and bemoans the loss along with the Polish people and the entire world.”

“The announcement that the Polish President, his wife, and dozens of top polish officials died in the crash struck us with pain, shock and disbelief,” Peres said adding that “Israel bows its head in sorrow and shares in your loss and grief.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also sent a letter of condolence saying “the Israeli people share in the Polish people’s grief over the tragic death of their President Lech Kaczynski and the other delegates who died in the crash.”

Kaczynski was a loyal friend of Israel, Lieberman said, adding that “he proved his friendship in both his stances and his actions, and by playing an important part in creating strategic ties with Israel.”

“He was one of Israel’s greatest friends, and his death is a great loss to his people and to the entire world,” Lieberman said.

The Defense Ministry issued a statement saying that “Defense Minister Ehud Barak sends his heartfelt condolences to the Polish people in light of their president’s death.”



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