Israel on Saturday accused Poland of wanting to “change history” following a vote by the lower house of the Polish parliament that sanctions the use of the term “Polish death camps” in reference to the holocaust.
The law provides for a sentence of up to three years in prison for Poles and foreigners who use the term to describe the extermination camps that the Nazis established in Poland when they occupied the country during the Second World War.
To enter into law, this bill must be voted on by the Senate and signed by the Polish President.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Israeli ambassador in Warsaw to meet the Polish prime minister on Saturday evening “to express firm opposition to this law,” according to a statement from his office.
For the Polish government, the use of the term “Polish death camps” gives the false impression that their country is responsible for the Holocaust.
For Israeli leaders, this law represents an attempt to deny Poland’s participation in the extermination of Jews by the Nazis during the Second World War.
“This law is without foundation. We can not change History and the Holocaust can not be denied, “said Netanyahu.
“Israel is asking the Polish government to amend this law before its final adoption,” said the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
An official of this ministry told AFP that this law was aimed at “clearing the Poles of their role during and after the Holocaust”.
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, also criticised the text, but in a more nuanced way.
“This law is likely to blur the historical truth about the assistance that the Germans received from the Polish people during the Holocaust,” said Yad Vashem in a statement, which acknowledged, however, “that no doubt that the term Polish death camps constitutes a misinterpretation of history.”