Poland’s Senate on Thursday approved a controversial bill that bans any suggestions about the country’s complicity in the Holocaust. The bill, which requires President Andrzej Duda’s signature before being declared law, has drawn criticism from Israel and United States, BBC reported.
The legislation proposes that the description of Nazi concentration camps in Poland as Polish be considered illegal with a penalty of severe fines or a three-year prison sentence. Poland has the right “to defend historical truth”, Duda said.
Nazi Germany had attacked and occupied Poland in 1939, killing millions of its citizens including three million Polish Jews. Six million Jews were killed in the war in total.
The bill secured a majority of 57 votes against 23 with two Polish legislators abstaining.
In retaliation, Israel’s MPs are rallying in favour of a bill that proposes a five-year jail sentence for anyone who downplays or denies the role of Nazi collaborators in Holocaust atrocities. The Israeli bill proposes to offer legal aid to Holocaust survivors being prosecuted for sharing their ordeal in other countries.
Poland’s proposal is an attempt to rewrite history and deny the Holocaust, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
The United States urged Poland to reconsider the law while citing that it had the potential to repress free speech and cause a diplomatic rift.