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Poland's President Duda says will sign Holocaust bill into law

Poland's President Duda says will sign Holocaust bill into law”

It was Poland's turn to show its displeasure in the ongoing row over the country's Holocaust bill on Monday, as it cancelled an official visit by Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

The main aim is to prevent people from erroneously describing Nazi German death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau as Polish, simply due to their geographical location.

Polish president President Andrzej Duda signed a bill on Tuesday that authorizes jail time for people convicted of suggesting the country was complicit in the Holocaust. And that, although after anor controversial legal reform, ultraconservative government of Law and Justice (PiS) controls Constitutional Court. "It is definitely not independent", said Piotr Buras, head of the Warsaw office of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

The US state department had also urged the Polish government to rethink the bill.

Poland's Foreign Minister, Jacek Czaputowicz, ruled out that possibility, saying under "Polish law and the legal system, this is impossible and we want to share this knowledge with our partners in Israel".

What does the bill state?

Instead, the bill is to take effect within the next two weeks, even as the Constitutional Tribunal reviews the legislation.

More than three million of Poland's 3.2 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis, accounting for about half of the Jews killed in the Holocaust.

The law stipulates that anyone who uses the term "Polish death camps" would be subject to a fine or imprisonment.

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But Duda and other Polish leaders insist the law does not limit freedom of speech on Holocaust issues that are based in historical fact.

In Israel, the reaction was fierce, too.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested it was an attempt to rewrite history.

"It is not credible to engage in the denial", Hoenlein said Tuesday. "The Polish government chose to avoid this truth".

"The Polish government cancelled my visit to Poland because I mentioned the crimes of its people", he said, according to Haaretz. And yes, more Poles have been honored by Yad Vashem for their life-saving efforts to protect Jews during the war than any other nation. But Duda also stressed that "there was no systemic way in which Poles took part in" Nazi crimes.

The statement also emphasizes that the incitement of conflicts between traditionally friendly Ukrainian and Polish peoples lies in the interests of the common enemies of Poland and Ukraine, "which were the Nazi and Communist regimes and today they are the Russian aggressor and occupiers".

Israel has expressed deep concerns that the legislation could open the door to prosecuting Holocaust survivors for their testimony should it concern the involvement of individual Poles for allegedly killing or giving up Jews to the Germans. The very swift and vocal opposition from Israel caught many Poles off guard and put them on the defensive.

The controversial legislation was adopted by the country's Senate last week, triggering Israel's disagreement.



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