Andrzej Duda
Andrzej DudaReuters

Poland's President Andrzej Duda insisted on Monday that there was no institutionalized participation by Poland or its people in the Holocaust, but did acknowledge that individual Poles took "wicked" actions against Jewish neighbors, reported The Associated Press.

Duda stressed that he would never allow Poland and Poles in general to be "vilified" though "false accusations."

His comments came amid an uproar over a bill approved by the Polish parliament that would outlaw public statements assigning to "the Polish nation" responsibility for crimes committed by Nazi Germany during its World War II occupation of Poland.

Violations of the proposed law would be punishable by fines or prison terms of up to three years.

Speaking during a visit to the southern town of Zory, Duda said that referring to the camps built and operated by the Germans in occupied Poland as "Polish death camps" is an example of the kind of statements the law is meant to address.

The president stressed that he condemned anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred.

The bill, which still has to to pass in the Senate and be signed by the president, has been criticized in Israel. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu criticized the bill, saying, "The law is baseless; I strongly oppose it. One cannot change history and the Holocaust cannot be denied."

On Sunday, Netanyahu spoke with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the two agreed to immediately start a dialogue in order to try to reach understandings on the controversial legislation.

Duda's top aide, Krzysztof Szczerski, met Monday with Israeli Ambassador Anna Azari to discuss the bill's wording, according to AP.

Szczerski characterized the talk as "difficult and frank" and said he was critical of the reaction in Israel to the legislation approved by the lower house of Poland's parliament Friday.