Despite Israeli protests, Poland set to sign controversial Holocaust bill into law

Law introduces jail terms for suggesting Polish complicity in Nazi crimes


Poland's President Andrzej Duda gives a press conference on February 6, 2018 in Warsaw to announces that he will sign into law a controversial Holocaust bill which has sparked tensions with Israel, the US and Ukraine. / AFP PHOTO / JANEK SKARZYNSKI (Photo credit should read JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said he will sign a controversial Holocaust bill into law, despite protests from Israel and the United States.

In an unusual move, he said he would ask the country’s Constitutional Court to examine the bill and suggest amendments that could possibly be made.

But any changes are likely to be issued only after the law goes into effect, Reuters reported.

Mr Duda’s announcement came after the Polish government cancelled a planned meeting with Israeli education and diaspora affairs minister Naftali Bennett, who spoke of the “Polish people’s… proven involvement in murdering Jews in the Holocaust.”

Mr Bennett, who leads the hard-right Jewish Home party, was due to visit Poland to discuss the bill, which could see jail sentences given to anyone who refers to “Polish death camps” or suggests the Polish nation was complicit in the Shoah.

The bill has been uniformly criticised by Israeli politicians across party lines.

Mr Bennett said he thought the dispute could be solved through dialogue, rather than through statements to the media.

But he also said he was “determined to say clearly what history has already proven – the Polish people had a proven involvement in murdering Jews in the Holocaust. I came to say the truth, which doesn’t change according to one law or another.”

The statement prompted Polish deputy prime minister Jarosaw Gowin to cancel the meeting planned with the Israeli minister.

“The Polish government canceled my planned visit because I mentioned the responsibility of the Poles for the murder of some 200,000 Jews during the Holocaust,” Mr Bennett said on Facebook.

“Here is my response: Polish Jewish blood cries out from the ground and no law will silence it.

“Now, the next generation has an important lesson to learn about the Holocaust of our people, and I will make sure they learn it. This decision by the Polish government will be a major part of the lessons of the Holocaust, even if they intended to achieve something else.

“Indeed, the extermination camps in Poland were established and operated by the Germans, and they must not be allowed to evade this responsibility.

“But many Poles throughout their country informed, betrayed or participated in the murder of some 200,000 Jews during the Holocaust and even afterwards.

“Only a few thousand Righteous Among the Nations risked their lives to save them.”

“It's the truth. I responded to a dialogue based on truth. The Polish government chose to evade this truth. No legislation will change the past.”

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