Israel slams Polish legislation on Holocaust-era crimes

Monitoring Desk

JERUSALEM:  Israeli officials on Thursday reacted furiously after the Polish Senate approved legislation that would criminalize the attribution of Holocaust-era crimes against Jews to the Polish nation or state.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz, for one, called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to immediately recall the Israeli ambassador to Poland.

“The law passed by the Poles is a grave development, as it removes the blame and denies Poland’s part in the Holocaust of the Jews,” Katz said in a statement.

Perpetuating the memory of Holocaust victims, he asserted, should be put “over any other consideration”.

Tzipi Livni, an Israeli MP for the Zionist Union Party and a former foreign minister, said the law was tantamount to “spitting in Israel’s face, twice”.

“First in the face of the Jewish state, which is trying to prevent a second holocaust; and second in the face of the [Israeli] prime minister, who announced he had reached an agreement with his Polish counterpart [rega-rding the legislation],” Livni said.

“Israel needs to respond firmly and send a clear message that we won’t allow them [the Polish government] to let the past be forgotten,” she added.

Yair Lapid, chairman of Israel’s Yesh Atid Party, for his part, said:

“No Polish law can make history change. We’ll never forget.”

Proposed by Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party, the legislation calls for up to three years in jail for anyone who holds the Polish state or nation responsible for Nazi crimes against Jews in occupied Poland during the Second World War.

According to Poland’s PAP news agency, the bill was approved by a vote of 57 to 23 with two MPs abstaining.

The legislation, however, still requires the Polish president’s signature before it officially becomes law.