Israel urges Poland to change bill regarding its role in Nazi Holocaust

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 27, 2018 1:25 PM

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel called on Poland on Saturday to amend a bill approved this week by Polish lawmakers that would make it illegal to use statements suggesting Poland bore any responsibility for crimes against humanity committed by Nazi Germany on its soil.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he instructed his ambassador to meet Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to express opposition to the bill, which would make using phrases like "Polish death camps" punishable by up to three years in prison.

"The law is baseless, I strongly oppose it. One cannot change history and the Holocaust cannot be denied," Netanyahu said.

Israel's Foreign Ministry said in a statement it is requesting that the Polish government change the proposal, and a spokesman added: "We will engage the Polish authorities on the issue with this very clear message."

Poles have fought for years against the use of phrases like "Polish death camps", which suggest Poland was at least partly responsible for the camps where millions of people, mostly Jews, were killed by Nazi Germany. The camps were built and operated by the Nazis after they invaded Poland in 1939.

A slew of senior Israeli officials released similar statements condemning the Polish bill, including the country's finance minister, who said: "There is one historical truth, strong and proven, and in it are the horrors of the Nazi oppressors and those who helped them, including Poland."

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Stephen Powell)