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Polish, Israeli PMs agree to dialogue amid tensions

PR dla Zagranicy
Paweł Kononczuk 29.01.2018 10:26
The Polish and Israeli prime ministers have agreed to hold dialogue amid tensions after MPs in Warsaw backed jail terms for anyone who ascribes blame to Poland for WWII crimes by Nazi Germany.
Premierminister Mateusz MorawieckiPremierminister Mateusz MorawieckiBild: Tracz/KPRM (Public Domain)

Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki “talked today with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about current Polish-Israeli relations and historical issues,” government spokeswoman Joanna Kopcińska wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

“It was agreed that dialogue will be conducted between groups from both countries. The dialogue will not concern sovereign decisions by the Polish parliament," she added.

A controversial Polish bill criticised by Netanyah was voted through by deputies in Warsaw on Friday. It will now go to the Senate, the upper house of Polish parliament, for further debate.

Penalties planned

Under the new rules, anyone who publicly ascribes blame or joint blame to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by Nazi Germany or for war crimes or other crimes against humanity would face up to three years in prison or a fine.

Anyone who uses the phrase "Polish death camps" would be liable to penalties.

The new Polish law would apply to both Polish citizens and foreigners "regardless of the rules in force in the location where the act was committed,” according to the official wording.

But artists and academics would be exempt from prosecution.

Speaking to Poland's PAP news agency about his conversation with Netanyahu, Morawiecki said: "We are open to dialogue, we want to discuss and investigate the historical truth."

'Bill not aimed at blocking academic research'

Morawiecki said he had stressed to Netanyahu that “the Polish state was attacked and occupied" by Germany in World War II.

"I said that the... the bill is not aimed at blocking academic research or academic work," Morawiecki said. "At the same time, I pointed out that the dialogue between our countries cannot concern sovereign decisions by the Polish parliament."

Poland’s deputy ambassador in Israel was summoned to the Israeli foreign ministry on Sunday morning, and was told that Israel opposed the wording of the bill, the PAP news agency reported.

The use of the term “Polish death camp” by international media outlets in reference to camps runs by Nazi Germans in occupied Poland during World War II has sparked numerous complaints from Warsaw in recent years.

Senior Polish presidential aide Krzysztof Szczerski and Israel’s Ambassador to Warsaw Anna Azari were expected to discuss the bill on Monday afternoon.

The Polish presidential office released a statement on Sunday saying that the goal of the new regulations was to prevent lies and false accusations levelled against the Polish state.

“If the aired criticisms are dictated by the commitment to the truth about the Holocaust, then this bill caters to such expectations rather than counters them,” the statement said.

Appeal for bill to be reversed

The presidential office's statement came after the Israeli ambassador to Poland criticised the bill in an impromptu speech at an official ceremony commemorating the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi German concentration camp on Saturday.

Speaking in the presence of Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Azari appealed for Polish policymakers to reverse the bill.

(pk/gs)

Source: PAP

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