Holocaust memorial in Poland
Holocaust memorial in Poland iStock

Israel's Foreign Ministry responded on Thursday afternoon to the Polish Senate's decision to approve a law criminalizing mention of Poland's role in the Holocaust or the term "Polish death camps."

The law would apply both in Poland and elsewhere, and would include a prison sentence of up to three years in prison for violators.

"The State of Israel firmly opposes the Polish Senate's decision," a ministry spokesperson said. "Israel views with gravity all attempts to harm the historical truth."

"No law will change the facts."

A diplomatic source expressed deep disappointment at the bill, and said finding the appropriate response will require great thought.,

"There is a deep disappointment, because the relationship between the two countries is important to both sides. This law opposes the atmosphere and mutual understandings between the two Prime Ministers, who met on Sunday," the source said.

Earlier on Thursday, Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu) said Israel cannot ignore the new law.

"Polish anti-Semitism oiled the wheels of the Holocaust," he said. "They deny their partial responsibility [for it] and the aid and support they provided to aid the destruction of the Jews. We need to sit and discuss this issue, because we cannot accept denial of the Holocaust."

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) called on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who also serves as Israel's Foreign Minister, to immediately call Israel's Ambassador to Poland for a meeting in Israel.

"This law...is very serious and shows a dismissal of responsibility and a denial of Poland's part in the Jewish Holocaust. When weighing Israel's diplomatic interests with the moral responsibility, the decision becomes obvious: We must preserve the memory of Holocaust victims, and this comes before anything else," he said.

Prior to the outbreak of World War II, Poland was home to more than 3 million Jews. Today, there are approximately 4,000 Jews officially registered as living in Poland, but according to experts there are tens of thousands of people throughout the country whose forbears chose to hide their Jewish identities due to the persecution they suffered under Nazism and communism.

The Poles claim that the concentration camps in Poland were built and run by the Nazis after they conquered the country, omitting the cooperation of local Poles and their looting of Jewish possessions, as well as incidents such as the 1946 Kielce pogrom.

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