'Jewish perpetrators' of Holocaust remark by Polish PM sparks outrage in Israel

'Jewish perpetrators' of Holocaust remark by Polish PM sparks outrage in Israel

'Jewish perpetrators' of Holocaust remark by Polish PM sparks outrage in Israel

During their phone call, Prime Ministers Netanyahu and Morawiecki agreed to establish joint research teams with experts from both countries to look into the hard events of the contested history, the Polish prime minister's office announced, according to Radio Poland.

Mr. Morawiecki appeared to fumble his defense of the new law while responding to a question from an Israeli reporter about what kind of speech it restricted.

"Of course it would not be punishable or criminal if you say there were Polish perpetrators, just like there were Jewish perpetrators, like there were Russian perpetrators like there were Ukrainians, not just German perpetrators", the Polish leader replied.

Mr Morawiecki's spokeswoman said his remarks 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. Netanyahu condemned his remarks as "outrageous", saying they showed "an inability to understand history".

Swastikas have been drawn on the gates of Poland's embassy in Israel, a day after country's PM stated that Jews were among perpetrators of the Holocaust.

However, tensions were further escalated on Saturday when, speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki suggested there were also Jewish perpetrators in the Holocaust, prompting immediate outrage from his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.

Critics of the so-called Holocaust bill, which also outlaws the term "Polish death camps" in reference to the notorious extermination camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau, operated by the Nazis during their occupation of Poland, have denounced it as a bid to whitewash history.

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The Polish prime minister then defended the legislation that outlaws using the phrase 'Polish death camp' or otherwise implying that Poles were complicit in Nazi crimes during WWII.

Late on Saturday night the Polish government released a statement.

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". The US State Department has also urged the Polish government to review its new law.

What happened in World War Two?

Thousands of Poles risked their lives to protect Jewish neighbours during the Second World War and many resisted the Nazis alongside Britain's armed forces.

However, the more contentious point raised by the law is whether it will outlaw references to acts of individual complicity by Poles with the Nazis - something historians say there is clear evidence for.

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