Wave of criticism after Polish Holocaust bill signed

Israeli education minister Naftali Bennett seen at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem

Israeli education minister Naftali Bennett seen at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem

Duda said he would also ask the Constitutional Tribunal for a number of clarifications about the bill.

The law imposes fines and jail time on anyone calling the Nazi slaughter of Jews during World War II a "Polish crime", or Nazi death camps "Polish death camps".

More than three million of the 3.2 million Jews who lived in pre-war Poland were murdered by the Nazis, accounting for about half of all Jews killed in the Holocaust.

The legislation proposed by Poland's conservative ruling party has sparked a bitter dispute with Israel, which says it will infringe on free speech about the Holocaust.

Polish officials say they only want to fight historical lies and distortions, primarily ones they see as downplaying the responsibility of Germany's Nazi perpetrators.

"Israel and Poland have a common responsibility to investigate and preserve the history of the Holocaust".

Bennett arranged the trip to Poland without coordinating it with the Israeli Foreign Ministry, but on a personal invitation from Jonny Daniels, a London-born Israeli activist for Holocaust commemoration, according to a report in Haaretz.

The bill was passed by the Polish parliament before being presented to President Duda.

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Azari told the commercial Radio Zet station on Monday that after Poland's Senate adopted the bill on Thursday she "had signals" she may be withdrawn but that "now I don't know".

Israel is furious about the bill, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described as an attempt to rewrite history and deny the Holocaust.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said this weekend that "there is not the slightest doubt about who is responsible for the extermination camps, who made them work to kill millions of European Jews: namely the Germans".

Tillerson referred to Poland as "our strong ally", and acknowledged that terms like "Polish death camps" were "painful and misleading". For the many Poles and their descendants that risked their lives to help the Jewish people - as indeed is recognised by Yad Vashem in the Righteous Among the Nations where over 25% of the overall honourees are Polish nationals - the use of "Polish death camps" is highly offensive. "The existence of certain collaborators does not change anything", Gabriel said.

The prevailing view in Israel and among Holocaust scholars is that many Poles were willing to at least look the other way, if not actively collaborate, with the Nazis.

The official state visit was scheduled to convey Israel's formal opposition to the recent approval of the legislation criminalizing any mention of collaboration by the country or its citizens with its Nazi occupiers.

"The blood of Polish Jews cries from the ground, and no law will silence it", Bennett said Monday, adding that the government of Poland canceled the visit because he spoke of "the crime of its people".

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