Europe

Israel slams Polish Holocaust bill

Israeli leaders have angrily criticised legislation in Poland that would outlaw blaming Poles for the crimes of the Holocaust.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has voiced his opposition to a draft Polish law that would criminalise statements suggesting Poland bears responsibility for the Holocaust.

Netanyahu vowed to take action against it.

The law, which still requires approval from the Polish Senate and the country's head of state, would make use of the phrase "Polish death camps" punishable by up to three years in prison or a fine.

"The law is baseless - I strongly oppose it," Netanyahu said in a statement on Saturday.

"One cannot change history and the Holocaust cannot be denied."

Netanyahu added that he had instructed the Israeli ambassador to Poland to meet with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki later on Saturday so that he could "express to him my strong position against the law".

Officials in Warsaw argue that the phrase in question indicates that Poles have some responsibility for the crimes - mainly against Jews - committed by the Nazis on Polish soil after the country's occupation in 1939.

Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, admitted in a statement that the phrase "Polish death camps" is a "historical misrepresentation".

"The extermination camps were set up in Nazi-occupied Poland in order to murder the Jewish people within the framework of the 'Final Solution," the centre said, referring to the Nazis' plan for the extermination of all European Jews during World War II.

"However, restrictions on statements by scholars and others regarding the Polish people's direct or indirect complicity with the crimes committed on their land during the Holocaust are a serious distortion," Yad Vashem added.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also weighed in on the issue, saying that "one cannot fake history, one cannot rewrite it, one cannot hide the truth."

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch