Polish PM: 'We Understand Israel's Emotions' on Holocaust Bill

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This file photo taken in January 1945 shows Auschwitz concentration camp gate and railways after its liberation.
This file photo taken in January 1945 shows Auschwitz concentration camp gate and railways after its liberation.Credit: -/AFP

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Thursday that Poland would never limit the freedom to debate the Holocaust and that Warsaw understood Israel's emotions about the issue.

"We will never limit the freedom to debate the Holocaust," Morawiecki said on the Polish state television TVP.

"We understand the emotions of Israel. We need a lot of work to make our common, often complicated, history possible to tell together," Morawiecki added.

Earlier Thursday, Israel said it "adamantly opposes" the bill, with some officials demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recall the ambassador to Poland over the legislation.

"Israel views with utmost gravity any attempt to challenge historical truth," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said. "No law will change the facts." If the draft becomes law, the use of phrases such as "Polish death camps" would be punishable by up to three years in prison.

An Israeli official expressed "deep disappointment given the fact that the relationship between the two countries is important to both sides." He added that "the law's passage goes against the spirit of the conversation between the two prime ministers [last] Sunday."

In Warsaw's first statement since the bill passed was passed by the upper house of parliament late on Wednesday, Poland's Foreign Ministry said that Warsaw hopes relations with the United States will remain unchanged. 

"We believe that the legislative work... despite differences in the assessment of the introduced changes, will not affect the strategic partnership between Poland and the United States," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry added that the bill “does not inhibit free speech, freedom of research and scholarship, or freedom of history debate or artistic activity” and is meant “to fight all forms of denying and distorting the truth about the Holocaust as well as belittling the responsibility of its actual perpetrators.”

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