Hotovely tells angry MKs: Dialogue to continue to amend Polish Holocaust bill

One MK called the Polish president's decision to sign the bill into law a "badge of shame" for the country.

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February 6, 2018 15:48
2 minute read.
Tzipi Hotovely

Tzipi Hotovely. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

 
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Israel will continue talking to Poland to try to soften its bill against discussing Poles’ complicity in Nazi crimes, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Tuesday, amid calls by lawmakers to downgrade diplomatic ties.

“Israel made it clear to the Polish government that it will not accept any law that silences the history or the involvement of Polish citizens in murdering Jews during the Holocaust,” Hotovely said. “We will continue acting in the diplomatic arena to amend the bill, and until the process in the Constitutional Tribunal in Poland is complete, the diplomatic dialogue will continue.”

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Hotovely’s comments came after Polish President Andrzej Duda said he will sign a bill passed by both houses of Poland’s parliament that makes it a crime punishable by up to three years in prison to publicly call the Polish people complicit in the Nazi's crimes against humanity during World War II. Duda said he will ask the Constitutional Tribunal for clarifications about the bill.

Bayit Yehudi faction chairwoman Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, who, before entering politics, led high school groups on trips to death camps in Poland, called for Israel to declare Polish diplomats in Israel persona non grata.

“The President of Poland chose to stick to the miserable stance of distorting the facts and denying the Holocaust,” she said. “Israel cannot stand silent over this, and we must bring back the Israeli Ambassador to Poland immediately and expel the entire Polish diplomatic staff from Israel.”

Moalem-Refaeli said that “this is a dramatic step, but it sends a clear message that we cannot accept the distortion of history, and any country that does so is not a friend of Israel.

“It is completely clear that the Final Solution for the Jewish Problem at every stage is the responsibility of the Nazi regime, but we cannot deny the fact that Poles took a direct part in murdering Jews during the Holocaust,” she added.

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Kulanu MK Merav Ben-Ari called Duda’s decision “a badge of shame” for Poland.

“It’s absurd that a shameful bill like this, that is trying to rewrite the horrible history of Jews in Poland, was authorized, when everyone knows the Polish people took part in the horrors that took place in the Holocaust. It’s an insult and shames all of us, and mostly Holocaust survivors from Poland. The bill paves the way for Holocaust deniers, and the Polish government has the responsibility to cancel it quickly and apologize to the survivors,” she stated.

In the opposition, MK Eitan Broshi of Zionist Union said “no law in any country in the world ban blur the responsibility for the Holocaust, which is first and foremost the Nazis’, but no less on the members of European nations who helped them.”

Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuly, who initiated a bill that would make it illegal to minimize the role of Nazi collaborators, said that this is a shameful day in Poland’s history.

“Poland is going down in history as the first country that passed a law denying the Holocaust. No shameful law will erase history,” he stated.

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