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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » April 30, 2018
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Polish-Israeli Crisis
April 30, 2018   
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Controversional anti-defamation bill approved by Polish Parliament Jan. 26 and signed into law by the President Andrzej Duda Feb. 6 caused unprecedented crisis in Polish-Israeli relations.

February 19:
The Polish government further escalated tension in its relations with Israel following PM Mateusz Morawiecki's remark about "Jewish perpetrators" of the Holocaust, which his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu almost immediately deemed "unacceptable".
The two politicians discussed the matter, with Warsaw also declaring that Morawiecki's intention had never been to deny the Holocaust or blame Jewish victims for genocide committed by Germans.
Former Israeli ambassador in Poland Szewach Weiss complained that such words by the Polish PM destroy what has been built in Polish-Israeli relations over the past 25 years.

February 20:
The Polish government failed to meet Israeli standards as regards the culture of a historical debate on difficult matters related to the ordeal of Jews during the World War II, former Israeli ambassador to Poland Zvi Rav-Ner told the daily Rzeczpospolita.

The Israeli public opinion is aware of historical facts, and the state of Israel did sentence a number of Jews for crimes that they committed as ghetto supervisors or functionaries in Nazi concentration camps, Rav-Ner said.

However, such cases cannot be put on a par with German or Ukrainian crimes, as it was recently done by Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki, the diplomat added.

Israel accepts discussion of sensitive historical issues but insists that it should be led in a very careful way, Rav-Ner emphasized.
Poland has been an important ally to Israel, and the latter cannot afford to lose it, he states. The escalating crisis in the Polish-Israeli relations needs to be hushed somehow, the diplomat said.

The situation would improve if Poland's Constitutional Tribunal spoke against the controversial anti-defamation bill, Rav-Ner said, while suggesting that this particular scenario seems unlikely.

February 20:
Poland's largest opposition party Civic Platform (PO) submitted its own version of an amended bill on the Institute for National Remembrance, the dailies Rzeczpospolita and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna wrote.

The PO draft seeks to limit the application of the controversial article 55a in a way that would raise no protests from the global public opinion, DGP observed.

The bill in its new form is unlikely to get the approval of the Polish parliament as the ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) is waiting for the decision of the Constitutional Tribunal, currently reviewing the bill at the request of President Andrzej Duda.

February 21:
Poland and Israel alike are interested in "deescalating" the recent tensions between the two states, head of PM's office Micha∏ Dworczyk told TV Republika broadcaster.

The Polish government wants dialogue and good relations with Israel, but also wants to speak the truth about the Holocaust and expects Israel to do the same, the PM's political office head Marek Suski told public TV TVP 1. Poland is willing to work out a compromise with Israel on the final shape of its anti-defamation law, he added.

February 25:
The Polish government is in diplomatic and political talks with Israel with "everyone intent on the fastest possible de-escalation and reduction of bad emotions," Dworczyk said. Poland has not "frozen" its recently passed anti-defamation act, he stressed echoing a weekend statement from the Justice Ministry. These last declarations follow the Israeli press reports indicating that the Polish government decided to suspend the anti-defamation act upon Israel's request, even though the bill has been signed into law by the president.

February 26:
Poland's specially established panel for legal and historical dialogue are "highly likely" to meet their Israeli counterparts in the near future as talks are "under way", government spokesperson Joanna Kopciƒska told the media representatives.

The meeting of the two panels is to attempt at bridging the gap in Polish-Israeli relations, caused by Poland's much-debated anti-defamation law.

February 28:
The Polish government should focus on explaining its contested anti-defamation bill to Israel rather than amend the bill, Rzeczpospolita daily wrote citing an internal survey commissioned by the government and accessed by the daily.

Almost 50% of Poles believe that amending the bill is "inacceptable," and only one third of those surveyed believe the bill should be amended.
Poland's panel of experts for legal and historical dialogue should talk to its Israeli counterparts on the contents of the anti-defamation law and misunderstandings caused by it, head of PM chancellery Micha∏ Dworczyk told the Program 3 public radio broadcaster. The date of the panels' first get-together is yet to be set, albeit the Polish side had informed the Israelis of its readiness to enter talks, Dworczyk added.

March 01:
The Polish government officials can forget about meetings with top US officials until it resolves its dispute with Israel, unspecified sources told daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

Warsaw has no intention to yield to Washington's pressure unless the US starts pulling out of military cooperation with Poland, which Warsaw considers unlikely despite such suggestions allegedly made by America, according to the newspaper.

March 02:
Poland's long-standing friendly relationship with Israel is not threatened and Israel hopes to maintain strong relations, a prominent member of Israel's ruling party Likud Moshe Arens told the daily Rzeczpospolita of strife over Poland's contested anti-defamation law.
The latter will probably have to be rewritten in some points so as to make it more precise, but getting rid of the anti-defamation law altogether seems unnecessary for Poland, Arens said of the likely outcome of the negotiations between Polish and Israeli panels for historical and legal dialogue.

March 8:
Poland has found itself under subtle diplomatic pressure from the US concerning the contested anti-defamation law, sources told the daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna of the suggestions made by the US Department of State's spokesperson Heather Nauert at a recent press conference. Poland should have no fear of US giving up on its obligations towards Warsaw under mutual security cooperation, the daily observed, while adding that the reported ban on meetings of Polish leaders with their American counterparts is a real problem. The Polish government has indirectly admitted the crisis in its relations with Washington as the foreign office is now trying to identify the source of the leakage of classified documents that revealed the strife between Poland and US.

April 06:
American president Donald Trump and vice-president Mike Pence are ready to meet with their Polish counterparts but Poland would prefer such meetings to take place at a later date as otherwise they could be dominated by temporary concerns regarding the Polish anti-defamation bill, chief presidential aide Krzysztof Szczerski told daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

Poland is enjoying excellent strategic relations with the US as proven by the extensive military cooperation between the two countries, he asserted at the same time.
Source: Polish Press Agency (PAP)
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