Netanyahu says will 'give expression' to historians' criticism on Polish statement
PM says objective of talks with Polish governments to cancel criminal articles in controversial Holocaust law was achieved; adds that 'I have listened to the comments from historians, including about things that were not included in the statement. I respect these comments.'
"The objective of the talks with the Polish government was to cancel the criminal articles in the Polish law, cast a pall of fear over research and free discourse regarding the Holocaust," the prime minister explained during the weekly Cabinet meeting. "This objective was achieved, and I thank the team of Joseph Ciechanover and Jacob Nagel for succeeding in removing the criminal articles from the Polish law."
He went on to note that "The declaration that was published following the change in the law was overseen by a senior historian. owever, various comments were made after its publication. I have listened intently to the comments of the historians, including about several things that were not included in the declaration. I respect this and I will give expression to it."
The prime minister also addressed his upcoming trip to Russia, during which he will watch the World Cup semi finals with President Vladimir Putin.
"We meet from time to time to ensure security coordination and, of course, to discuss regional developments," Netanyahu said of Putin. "At the meeting I will reiterate the two basic principles of Israel's policy: First, we will not tolerate the establishment of a military presence by Iran and its proxies anywhere in Syria – not close to the border and not far away from it. Second, we will demand that Syria, and the Syrian military, strictly uphold the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement."
Last week, Poland's ruling conservatives watered down the law, which had drawn Israeli and US condemnation, and removed the threat of jail terms for anyone suggesting the nation was complicit in Nazi crimes against the Jews.
After the law was amended, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Polish counterpart Morawiecki said in a statement that their countries were "friends and partners" and rejected blaming Poland or its citizens for atrocities committed by the Nazis or collaborators in other countries.
Their statement went on to praise the wartime Polish government-in-exile, saying it tried to "raise awareness among Western allies of the systematic murder" of Polish Jews
Netanyahu and Morawiecki also acknowledged "the fact that structures of the Polish underground state supervised by the Polish government-in-exile created a mechanism of systematic help and support to Jewish people."
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, criticized the statement, which was published in newspapers in Israel and abroad on Thursday, as historically inaccurate, challenging in particular the validity of the leaders' assertion that the Polish underground and government-in-exile in World War Two came to the aid of Jews facing death at the hands of the Nazis.
Yad Vashem also said Poland's amended Holocaust speech law, while no longer allowing prison as a criminal penalty, still provides for possible civil penalties that could impede Holocaust research.