Polish President Andrzej Duda announced on Tuesday his intention to sign a bill passed by the country’s parliament that would criminalize the mentioning of “Polish death camps” in reference to Nazi concentration camps in the Holocaust.
Duda, however, will first the send the bill to Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal, which will investigate the law’s potential curtailment on freedom of speech.
“I have decided to sign the law but also to send it to the Constitutional Tribunal,” he told reporters in Warsaw.
In explaining his support for the bill, Duda did not deny the culpability of individual Poles but stressed that “there was no systemic way in which (Polish society) took part in it.”
“(The bill) preserves the interests of Poland, our dignity and the historical truth,” he added. “It takes into account the sensitivity of those for whom the question of historical memory of the Holocaust remains exceptionally important, especially those who have survived and who, as long as they can, should tell the world about this past and their experience.”
Nevertheless, Israeli officials from across the political spectrum have strongly condemned the law as being a form of historical revisionism and distortion of history.
Despite efforts on the part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to find common ground on the matter with the Polish government, consensus between Jerusalem and Warsaw has yet to be reached.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who composed a lesson plan that goes into detail regarding the “involvement of local (Polish) populations” in the Holocaust,” had a scheduled visit to Poland cancelled by Warsaw in response to remarks he made on Monday.
“I am determined to clearly say that history has already confirmed that the Polish people had a proven involvement in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust,” Bennett had said.
The minister, who is also chairman of the Jewish Home party, doubled down on his remarks after receiving the news that his visit was cancelled.
“The government of Poland canceled my visit because I mentioned the crimes of its people. I am honored.”
For its part, Israel’s Foreign Ministry released a statement on Tuesday in which it said that Israel is still continuing to try and reach an agreement with Poland regarding the controversial bill.
“Israel continues to communicate with Polish authorities and has expressed its reservations regarding the new Polish law,” the statement read.
“Israel has noted, that the Polish President had deferred the law to the Constitutional Court for clarifications and amendments. We hope that within allotted time until the court’s deliberations are concluded, we will manage to agree on changes and corrections.”