Israel pleased Poland 'fully rescinded' Holocaust law clauses
Bringing to a close a protracted diplomatic feud that had soured relations between the two countries after Poland passed a law that Israel said curtailed free speech and research on the former's part in the Holocaust, Netanyahu welcomes Warsaw's decision to remove controversial clause that criminalized suggestions of Polish complicity in Nazi crimes.
In Warsaw, Polish President Andrzej Duda signed changes to the law, removing jail penalties for suggesting Poland was complicit in Nazi crimes, the presidential chancellery said.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki asked parliament to amend the law on Wednesday morning—an unexpected announcement that came as his ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) seeks to bolster security ties with Washington and faces heightened scrutiny from the EU.
"I'm pleased that the Polish government, the parliament, the Senate and the president of Poland decided today to fully rescind the clauses that were signed and caused a storm and consternation in Israel and among the international community," Netanyahu said in a live announcement in Jerusalem.
“It’s obvious that the Holocaust was an unprecedented crime committed by Nazi Germany against the Jewish nation, including all Poles of Jewish origin. Poland has always expressed the highest understanding of the significance of the Holocaust as the most tragic part of the Jewish national experience,” Netanyahu said as he attempted to mend the fractured relationship between the two countries following the passage of the law.
The Israeli premier also called for “free research, to promote understanding and to preserve the memory of the history of the Holocaust.”
Israel, he said, had always rejected the term “Polish concentration death camps”, which has for decades enraged Poles bitter at the insinuation that the Polish nation bore responsibility for Nazi Germany’s establishment of the killing factories on its soil.
It has always been, he said “blatantly erroneous and diminishes the responsibility of Germany for establishing those camps.”
The prime minister also acknowledged the World War II Polish government in exile which attempted to alert the Western allies to the Jewish plight in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Looking to strike the delicate middle ground, Netanyahu also paid tribute to “heroic” acts displayed by Polish citizens who saved Jewish lives despite the risk of Nazi retribution, while simultaneously highlighting the atrocities and acts of betrayal committed by Poles against Jews.
“We acknowledge and condemn every single case of cruelty against Jews perpetrated by Poles during World War II. We‘re honored to remember heroic acts of numerous Poles, especially the Righteous Among the Nations, who risked their lives to save Jewish people,” he said during the peroration of his remarks, emphasizing that “We reject the actions aimed at blaming Poland or the Polish nation as a whole for the atrocities committed by the Nazis and their collaborators of different nations.”
Concluding his statement, Netanyahu said that both governments vehemently condemn all forms of anti-Semitism and reject “anti-Polandism” and “other negative national stereotypes.”
Reuters contributed to this report.