Knesset Members Objecting to Croatian President’s Visit

Two Israeli lawmakers are trying to block a planned visit by Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, saying he is an anti-Semite who has aligned himself with Holocaust deniers.

Yossi Beilin of the Labor Party and Yossi Sarid of the Meretz Party have submitted urgent motions in the Knesset to cancel the trip.

Tudjman informed the Foreign Ministry that he intended to visit Israel next month, Israel Radio reported Sunday. The report said Tudjman had expressed an interest in apologizing for the actions of his people during World War II and in visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.

Foreign Ministry officials would not comment on the report.

Beilin and Sarid responded to the report by submitting the Knesset motions.

Beilin said in a statement that the Croatian president’s plans to apologize for the crimes of his people did not exonerate him from calling the Holocaust a “Jewish invention.”

Sarid said Tudjman was an anti-Semite and that his presence in the Jewish state would be painful for many Israelis.

Israel and Croatia established diplomatic ties in September, a move that drew criticism from some Jewish organizations and political figures, including Beilin.

Tudjman’s nationalist policies are viewed by many as an attempt to rehabilitate the fascist Ustashe regime that ruled Croatia as a Nazi puppet state during World War II.

He drew particular fire last year by declaring that he wanted to rebury the bones of Croatian fascists at a Yugoslav-built memorial to the thousands of Jews and Serbs slaughtered at the Ustashe’s Jasenovac concentration camp.

Croatia had 25,000 Jews before World War II, most of them prosperous and largely assimilated. Some 20,000 were killed by the Nazis or the Ustashe regime.

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