Polish delegation to visit Israel, discuss Holocaust law

High-level Polish government delegation to travel to Israel and discuss Poland’s controversial Holocaust law.

Contact Editor
Ben Ariel,


A high-level Polish government delegation will travel to Israel on Wednesday to discuss Poland’s controversial Holocaust law, the Israeli foreign ministry said Tuesday, according to AFP.

The law, which was approved by the Polish Senate and then signed by the president, allows a sentence of up to three years in prison for anyone ascribing "responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich." It applies to both citizens of Poland as well as foreign citizens.

Poland's right-wing government has faced international criticism over the law, which was meant to protect Poland from false accusations of complicity in the Holocaust.

Israel sees it as a bid to deny the participation of individual Poles in killing Jews or handing them over to the Nazis. It is also concerned the legislation could open the door to prosecuting Holocaust survivors for their testimony, something that Poland denies.

An Israeli foreign ministry statement said on Tuesday that the Polish team would be headed by the country’s deputy foreign minister Bartosz Cichocki.

The Israeli side will be led by foreign ministry director general Yuval Rotem, backed by historians, jurists, diplomats and a representative of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

"The purpose of the dialogue is to preserve the historical truth and prevent harm to the freedom of research and expression," the statement said.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the talks would "be the beginning of an attempt to find a way out of a situation that I think has been misunderstood by some people abroad."

He told media talks would be conducted by lawyers from the Polish foreign and justice ministries as well as the IPN Institute of National Remembrance charged with prosecuting Nazi and communist-era crimes.

Poland wants "to begin a real, good, constructive dialogue with the Israeli side", Morawiecki stressed.

Cichocki said the talks will not focus on changing the controversial Holocaust law as Poland's "constitutional system does not allow" negotiating legislation with a foreign country.

Cichocki said last week no criminal charges will be brought against offenders, but mentioned that his country will require some remedy for untrue statements.

Last Saturday it was reported that the Polish government would delay implementation of the law in order to allow for dialogue with Israel. Subsequent reports quoting Polish sources said the legislation was not delayed and will take effect on March 1.