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2 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Polish senate passes Holocaust bill slammed by Israel

AFP

WARSAW: Poland’s senate yesterday passed a controversial Holocaust bill, which was designed to defend the country’s image abroad but has instead sparked a diplomatic row with Israel, reports AFP. The bill, which sets fines or a maximum three-year jail term for anyone who refers to Nazi German death camps as Polish or accuses Poland of complicity in the Third Reich’s crimes, was approved by 57 votes to 23 in the upper house of parliament, with two abstentions.

Israel had earlier called for the bill to be dropped, seeing one of its provisions as an attempt to deny Polish involvement in Nazi Germany’s extermination of Jews.

“We have no tolerance for the distortion of the truth and rewriting history or denying the Holocaust,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

The lower house of parliament, which like the senate is controlled by the governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, had passed the bill on Friday—triggering the protest from abroad.

Knesset lawmakers penned a proposed bill of their own Wednesday amending Israel’s law regarding Holocaust denial, so that diminishing or denying the role of those who aided the Nazis in crimes against Jews would be punishable with jail. Before the vote on the Polish bill, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert expressed “concern” that “if enacted this draft legislation could undermine free speech and academic discourse”.

“We are also concerned about the repercussions this draft legislation... could have on Poland’s strategic interests and relationships—including with the United States and Israel,” she added. To take effect, the legislation still needs to be signed by Polish President Andrzej Duda, who has 21 days to do so.

In theory he could veto the bill but on Monday he said: “We absolutely can’t back down, we have the right to defend the historical truth.”

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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