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Poland defends PM's Holocaust remark

Poland defends PM's Holocaust remark

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, speaks during the 54th Munich Security Conference (MSC), in Munich, Germany.

Morawiecki attracted more criticism Saturday after visiting the Munich grave site of members of the Holy Cross Mountains Brigade, a Polish paramilitary group which collaborated with the Gestapo during the Second World War in fighting communist Polish and Soviet partisans before fleeing to Czechoslovakia and further west at the end of the war.

Less than a day after Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki claimed that "there were Jewish perpetrators" in the Holocaust, the Polish embassy in Tel Aviv was vandalized with deformed swastikas and anti-Polish slurs.

Israeli police on Sunday published pictures of graffiti discovered on the gates of Poland's embassy in Tel Aviv, which included Nazi swastikas and the word "murderer" in English. "The Jewish state will not allow the murdered to be blamed for their own murder", he said, while calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to recall Israel's ambassador to Warsaw. He added that the distortion that may exist regarding Poland's responsibility for the Holocaust could not be corrected by means of another distortion. The two agreed that the countries would continue their dialogue on the matter. The law will also be hard to enforce, he acknowledged, and may be subject to changes required by the country's constitutional tribunal.

Netanyahu, during his speech to the Munich conference, alluded to the controversy, saying, "We will never forget and we will never allow the rewriting of the historical truth".

In recent weeks, Israeli officials have sharply criticized the Police legislation, which criminalizes blaming Poland as a nation for crimes committed by Nazi Germany. Dialogue on these hard chapters of our history is essential - a dialogue we hope to continue with Israel.

"Of course it's not going to be punishable, [it's] not going to be seen as criminal to say that there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian; not only German perpetrators", Morawiecki said. "Today, I spoke about this with Prime Minister [Netanyahu]".

Tzipi Livni, a Zionist Union MK and former foreign minister, said it was "moving to hear Ronen Bergman asking/attacking the Polish prime minister over the law that forbids mentioning the participation of the Polish nation in the Holocaust, as [Bergman] told his family story and received applause from the audience".

After a slew of negative reactions to the comments, the Polish PM's spokeswoman sought to clarify the remark saying his words "should be interpreted as a honest call for open discussion of crimes committed against Jews during the Holocaust, regardless of the nationality of those involved in each crime".

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