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U.S. 'disappointed' by signing of Holocaust law in Poland

U.S. 'disappointed' by signing of Holocaust law in Poland

Poland's president signed into law on Tuesday (local time) a bill that imposes jail terms for suggesting the country was complicit in the Holocaust, prompting sharp criticism from Israel and the United States.

"(This bill). protects Polish interests. our dignity, the historical truth.so that we are not slandered as a state and as a nation", said Duda, an ally of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) which introduced the legislation. Many people were surprised when lawmakers suddenly approved it on January 26, the day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day .

Holocaust scholars and institutions have strongly denounced the law as well, arguing that its unclear wording creates the potential for abuse.

"It is extremely important for me that we, like the Poles, are not mentioned as participants in the Holocaust".

But he said the Polish state bore no responsibility because it ceased to exist following the invasion by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Other Israeli government officials said the bill amounted to Holocaust denialism.

Bennett said only a small number of Poles risked their lives to save Jews during the war. Similarly, no one who uses the phrase "Polish death camps" - including former USA president Barack Obama and former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey - does so out of ill will toward Poland.

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"Enactment of this law adversely affects freedom of speech and academic inquiry", Tillerson said. "The death camps in Poland were built and operated by the Germans, and we can not allow them to evade responsibility for these actions", Israel's Bennett said. "The resulting divisions that may arise among our allies benefit only our rivals".

Before the outbreak of World War II, Jews lived in Poland for centuries, thriving in some eras and even becoming the world's largest Jewish population at one point. The concentration camps were German, not Polish, a sentiment which has indeed been stressed by the German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel over the last few days.

At least 1.9 million non-Jewish Polish citizens were killed by the Nazis as well.

"No, there was no systemic way in which Poles took part in it", Duda said.

Initially, when the education ministry announced his visit, Bennett said he was "determined to say explicitly [what] history has already proved - the Polish nation had a proven involvement in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust".

Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial, reiterated its concerns Tuesday. In a statement released yesterday, Mr Bennett said he "felt honoured" by the cancellation for what he sees is a rewriting of the past.

"I think it's a problem of interpretation, of over-interpretation on the Israeli side", he said, adding that "we can also imagine some kind of amendment (of the legislation) if our explanations will not be convincing".

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