Polish President Andrzej Duda will have to sign the bill into law
Polish President Andrzej Duda will have to sign the bill into lawReuters

Polish senators overnight Wednesday approved a bill which would make it illegal to suggest Poland bore any responsibility for crimes against humanity committed by Nazi Germany on its soil during World War II.

The upper house of parliament voted 57-23, with two abstentions, to approve the bill, according to AFP.

The bill would make the use of phrases such as “Polish death camps” punishable by up to three years in prison and would apply to both Polish citizens and foreigners.

The legislation will now be sent to Polish President Andrzej Duda to be signed into law. Duda said earlier this week he supports the bill and insisted there was no institutionalized participation by Poland or its people in the Holocaust, though he did acknowledge that individual Poles took "wicked" actions against Jewish neighbors.

The legislation was widely criticized in Israel by lawmakers from across the political spectrum. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was one of the critics, saying on the weekend, "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.

The approval in the Senate came hours after U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert urged Poland to re-evaluate the bill, saying the United States is concerned about the repercussions on Poland’s relations with the United States and Israel if the draft becomes law.

“We encourage Poland to re-evaluate the legislation in light of its potential impact on the principle of free speech and on our ability to be effective partners,” she said.