Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki Yoni Kempinski

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Saturday "defended" his country's new law concerning the Holocaust by claiming the Holocaust had involved "Jewish perpetrators" as well as Polish.

Earlier this month, Poland's senate passed a law mandating fines or up to three years in jail for anyone ascribing "responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich."

Appearing at the Munich Security Conference, Morawiecki was questioned by an Israeli journalist who told of his mother's narrow escape from the Gestapo in Poland after learning that neighbors were planning to denounce her family.

The journalist, Ronen Bergman, asked if by recounting this, "I am a criminal in your country?" garnering a round of applause from the audience.

Morawiecki responded: "It's not going to be punishable, not going to be seen as criminal, to say that there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukraine and German perpetrators."

He reiterated that the point of the law was to defend Poland's honor by making it clear that people knew "there were no Polish death camps... There were German Nazi death camps."

"But we cannot agree with mixing perpetrators with victims, because it would be first of all an offense to all the Jews and all the Poles who suffered greatly during the Second World War."

Several attendees later took to Twitter to assail the remarks, and Bergman himself tweeted that the Polish premier's answer was "unbelievable."

Francois Heisbourg, a London-based diplomacy expert, called the reference to "'Polish perpetrators like there were Jewish perpetrators'" a "shameful response."

Noa Landau, a correspondent for the Haaretz newspaper, denounced an "outrageous scene," noting the audience's silence after Morawiecki's comments.

Responding to Morawiecki's statement, several MKs called on the Israeli government to recall Israel's Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari.