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Polish court dismisses case against Holocaust historians, says no apology needed

Holocaust historian Jan Grabowski poses for a picture after an interview with Reuters in Warsaw, Poland, on February 8, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

A Polish court has ruled that two Holocaust historians do not need to apologize for saying that some Poles were cooperating with the Nazi Germany during the World War II, amid deep rifts between Poland and Israel over the issue.

Monday's ruling overturned the verdict by Warsaw’s court of appeal in February, which ordered that Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski must apologize for implicating Poles in the Nazi Germany's operations in a book about Poland during the World War II.

The appeals court judge dismissed the claims made against the two historians, underlining the importance of freedom of academic research.

"This is of particular importance in matters that constitute an important element of public debate, raising important social issues regarding the history of a given state and nation," the judge said.

The Holocaust remains a highly sensitive issue among the Poles and has already triggered heated exchanges and diplomatic confrontations between Warsaw and the Tel Aviv regime several times in the past.

On Saturday, Polish President Andrzej Duda approved legislation curbing World War II-era restitution claims.

Duda signed into law a measure that sets a 30-year limit on the ability of Jews to recover property seized by Nazi German occupiers and retained by post-war communist rulers.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called the approval of the law "a shameful decision that shows a disgraceful contempt for the memory of the Holocaust."

Meanwhile, Ynet news reported that the Israeli foreign ministry is weighing canceling an agreement between the regime and Poland that ended a dispute over another law passed by Warsaw, which criminalized blaming the Polish nation for Holocaust crimes.

The row was resolved in 2018, when Poland softened the law and former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki, agreed on a joint declaration.

Also in February 2019, Poland called in Israel’s ambassador to Warsaw, threatening to scuttle an upcoming summit in Israel, after Netanyahu appeared to accuse the European country of collaborating with the Nazi Germany in carrying out the Holocaust.

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