Israeli minister: Poland visit cancelled over Holocaust bill

Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine holds meeting

Duda said he will also consult with Poland's constitutional court for review.

Poland's president signed legislation Tuesday that imposes prison terms of up to three years for falsely and intentionally attributing the crimes of Nazi Germany to Poland.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said the law will prevent the Polish people as a whole from being blamed for what the Germans did in occupied Poland, the location of Auschwitz and other Nazi camps.

"We are also concerned about the repercussions this draft legislation, if enacted, could have on Poland's strategic interests and relationships", she said.

The bill was supported by 57 senators, mainly from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) Party, 23 voted against the document, and two abstained.

Poland's Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz ruled out that possibility on Monday, saying under "Polish law and the legal system, this is impossible and we want to share this knowledge with our partners in Israel". It needs Duda's signature to become law, and he has spoken in its favor.

In a gesture to Israel, Mr Duda said he would send it to the Constitutional Tribunal to check whether its regulations comply with the Polish constitution.

"The ruling party couldn't withdraw the bill under the pressure of foreign countries - Israel and the U.S. - and signing the bill would bring a diplomatic catastrophe", she said.

While "Polish" is nearly always used as a geographic description in that context, Poles feel the phrase cruelly portrays their country as having been in charge of the Nazi-run camps, while in fact Poles made up the largest group of victims after Jews.

According to Czaputowicz, critical comments made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the Polish bill were "due to a misunderstanding".

But he said the Polish state bore no responsibility because it ceased to exist following the invasion by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Bennett said only a small number of Poles risked their lives to save Jews during the war. In a statement released yesterday, Mr Bennett said he "felt honoured" by the cancellation for what he sees is a rewriting of the past.

Jewish groups in the United States have accused the Polish government of "engaging in denial".

Bennett said in the statement that "the decision by the Polish government has a role to play in Holocaust education, even if they intended it to achieve something else." noting that "I accepted an invitation to a dialogue based on truth".

"There is not the slightest doubt as to who was responsible for the extermination camps, operated them and murdered millions of European Jews there: namely Germans", he said.

While there is a consensus among historians that certain Polish individuals and groups did collaborate with the Nazi occupiers, recent Polish governments have sought to challenge that narrative.

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