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Poland anticipates more Polish-Israeli dialogue amid tensions

PR dla Zagranicy
Victoria Bieniek 13.03.2018 08:30
Poland anticipates the second meeting of Polish-Israeli historical dialogue task forces, Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said on Monday amid tensions over a new Polish anti-defamation law.
Jacek Czaputowicz. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka.Jacek Czaputowicz. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka.

But a date for the meeting has not been set, Czaputowicz said.

His comments came after his meeting with US Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues Tom Yazdgerdi in Skopje.

Czaputowicz and Yazdgerdi attended Skopje commemorations of the 75th anniversary of deportations of Macedonian Jews to the death camp in Treblinka, which was in German-occupied Poland in World War II.

Polish and Israeli teams were set up to talk about World War II history after Poland last month introduced new laws which could see jail terms for anyone who accuses Poland of being complicit in Nazi German crimes. The move triggered anger in both Israel and the US.

According to Czaputowicz, a date has not been set for the second meeting of the Polish and Israeli dialogue groups. They held their first meeting in late February in Jerusalem.

Polish Radio's IAR news agency quoted Czaputowicz as saying that "we anticipate the next meeting in Warsaw".

"I think we need to look at this [dialogue] as a more long-term process of bringing closer ... interpretations of the history of the Holocaust era in Poland," Czaputowicz said.

Tensions over new rules

In Poland, the new rules are seen as a way of fighting the use of the phrase “Polish death camps” in reference to Nazi German-run extermination camps located in occupied Poland during World War II.

Poles say the phrase, which has often been used by foreign media, distorts history and implies Poland's involvement in the Holocaust.

But critics have accused Poland of trying to whitewash and rewrite history.

During the legislative process, the US State Department warned Poland that the rules could have a "potential impact on the principle of free speech and on our ability to be effective partners".

In a statement posted on its website, the State Department added it was concerned about the repercussions the draft legislation, if enacted in Warsaw, “could have on Poland’s strategic interests and relationships” – including with the its ally the United States and Israel.

The US State Department said: “We encourage Poland to reevaluate the legislation in light of its potential impact on the principle of free speech and on our ability to be effective partners”.

Commentators have said that Israel is concerned the new law could mean penalties for anyone who criticises individual Poles' role in the Holocaust. (vb)

Source: IAR

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