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February 26, 2018 12:11 pm

Poland Denies Freezing Implementation of Controversial Holocaust Law

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Polish Prime Minister Mateusza Morawieckiego. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. – Despite statements by Israeli Foreign Ministry officials to the contrary, Polish officials say they are not planning to freeze implementation of Poland’s controversial “Holocaust law” as a result of Israeli pressure.

The legislation makes it illegal to accuse the Polish nation of Nazi war crimes committed during World War II or attribute responsibility for the Nazi death camps that operated in Poland to the country or the Polish people.

The officials said that no Polish representatives would be arriving for talks in Israel to discuss rewording the law, as the Foreign Ministry statement had led many to believe.

They said that while they understood that Israeli officials made the claim in an effort to alleviate tensions between the two countries and create an atmosphere more conducive to dialogue, the false reports in Israel had sparked a negative reaction in Poland, with some taking to social media to accuse the government of caving in to pressure from foreign governments.

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In particular, the claim by Yesh Atid Party leader Yair Lapid — that the Polish decision to freeze the implementation of the law was a victory for such protest — sparked criticism in Poland, including among members of the  Jewish community there, who accused Lapid of having added fuel to the fire over the legislation.

Polish officials said Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro had given an interview over the weekend in which he said Polish prosecutors were awaiting approval of the law from Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal, in accordance with a request from Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Ziobro has clarified that the law will not in any way prevent Holocaust survivors or researchers from discussing the crimes carried out by Poles against Jews during the war. He made it clear that only false and unfounded statements against the Polish nation or state would be grounds for prosecution.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement that this was not the information at its disposal. The ministry said that as far as it knew, Ziobro’s statement that the law would be examined by the Constitutional Tribunal before being implemented was the direct result of Israeli pressure.

According to the ministry, a Polish team was set to arrive in Israel with the aim of rewording the law.

If approved, the “Holocaust law” is set to go into effect on Wednesday.

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