Trump administration officials reportedly asked both Israel’s government and opposition to tamp down criticism of a proposed Polish law that would criminalize blaming Poland for Nazi crimes.
Senior Israeli officials said that while the Americans found the law objectionable, they were seeking to preserve relations with Poland, a critical ally, Channel 10 news reported Thursday evening.
The US officials stressed that a continued harsh response to the legislation would exacerbate long-term between not just Poland and Israel, but also Poland and America, which has backed Israel in the dispute. This could in return have detrimental effects on Israel and the US’s relations with Europe, they said, according to the report.
As well as communicating directly with Israeli government officials, the Trump administration extended the pressure to Israel’s opposition when Vice President Mike Pence met Isaac Herzog, the parliamentary leader of the opposition Zionist Union faction, last month in Washington, the report said.
The report suggested that the American pressure to make nice with Poland bore results: The Washington embassies of Poland and Israel joined the US State Department on Wednesday in co-sponsoring a Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration.
Israeli government officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and others have harshly criticized the law because, they claim, while it ostensibly targets those who say Poles collectively were responsible for the Holocaust, it could also be interpreted as criminalizing any reporting of Polish anti-Semitism during the period around the Holocaust, and any reporting of Poles who collaborated with Nazis.
Other critics say the law impinges on free speech. Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, this week reassured his Israeli counterpart, Reuven Rivlin, that Holocaust survivors would not be at risk simply for telling their stories. Rivlin was in Poland for Holocaust commemoration events.
The law passed in February and is under review in Constitutional Court before it can take effect. Poland’s attorney general said in a nonbinding opinion that the court should shelve the parts of the law that have drawn criticism.