Polish President Pledges Review of Holocaust Law

YERUSHALAYIM -
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

In response to Israeli outrage over a bill outlawing blaming Poland for crimes against Jews in the Holocaust, the Polish president on Sunday pledged to review the proposal before final passage, The Times of Israel reported.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said in a statement that he intends to present his “final evaluation of procedural legal provisions after the completion of parliament’s work and a careful analysis of the final shape of the act.”

He did not comment directly on the concerns raised by Israel, nor did he promise anything more than what the Polish legislative process requires. The measure would in any case need his signature before being enacted into law.

Poland’s right-wing-controlled parliament on Friday approved legislation imposing a fine or a maximum three-year jail term for anyone who attributes “responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich — or other crimes against humanity, peace and war crimes.”

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called the Polish bill “baseless,” said “history cannot be rewritten,” and that he expects the Polish lawmakers to amend the law. The measure must still pass the Senate before going to the president for signing.

“We will accept no limitation on truthful historical research,” said Netanyahu.

“Our ambassador in Warsaw, at my instruction, spoke with the prime minister of Poland during last night’s ceremony commemorating the Holocaust at Auschwitz, and emphasized these positions of ours,” he said, referring to a service to mark the 73rd anniversary of the death camp’s liberation.

Israel’s ambassador to Poland Anna Azari told the Polish PAP news agency that Israel is concerned that the punitive provisions of the bill could lead to Holocaust survivors being prosecuted for testimony given about the involvement of Poles in war crimes.

A senior aide to the Polish president is scheduled to meet with Azari on Monday in Warsaw to discuss the matter.