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Israel: Polish Holocaust law ‘is denial of history’

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Israel: Polish Holocaust law ‘is denial of history’

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Israel has criticised a Polish death camp bill, saying it amounts to a denial of history.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called upon Poland to amend the bill which, if passed, would make it a jailable offence to suggest the country is responsible for Nazi crimes.

The bill was approved this week in the lower house of the Polish parliament. It is expected to be passed by the Senate before being signed into law by the president.

Netanyahu said on Saturday: “The law is baseless, I strongly oppose it. One cannot change history and the Holocaust cannot be denied.”

The draft law proposes fines or a three-year jail term for anyone who refers to Nazi German death camps as being Polish.

Israeli politician Yair Lapid weighed in on criticism of the bill

It comes as Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party has sought to protect the eastern European country’s reputation by criminalising the "insulting and slandering” of the “good name of Poland".

Deputy Justice Minister Patryk Jaki, the author of the bill, responded to Israel’s criticism on Twitter by saying claims that Poles were “co-responsible” for the Holocaust were “proof of how necessary this bill is.”

The Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Israel said Polish lawmakers were justified in the view that the term “Polish death camps” was misrepresentative, but urged them to protect freedoms to research and discuss the Holocaust in the country.

“Restrictions on statements by scholars and others regarding the Polish people’s direct or indirect complicity with the crimes committed on their land during the Holocaust are a serious distortion,” they said.

Meanwhile, Polish government spokeswoman Joanna Kopcinska wrote on Twitter that the legislation aimed “to show the truth about the terrible crimes committed on Poles, Jews, and other nations that were, in the 20th century, victims of brutal totalitarian regimes - the German Nazi regime and Soviet communism.”

It is thought that almost 1.1 million people were murdered, including Jews and Poles, at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi Germany.