Critics of Poland’s new law say it goes too far. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said the legislation “adversely affects freedom of speech,” and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel compared it to a form of Holocaust denial.
Tensions flared anew on Saturday when Mr. Netanyahu and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland both attended a security conference in Munich.
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’s not going to be punishable, not going to be seen as criminal, to say that there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian, not only German perpetrators,” he said.
Mr. Netanyahu responded quickly, calling the comment “outrageous” in a statement on Saturday. “There is a problem here of an inability to understand history and a lack of sensitivity to the tragedy of our people,” he said.
The next day, Reuters reported that the swastika graffiti had been found at the Polish Embassy in Tel Aviv.
Another statement from Israel on Sunday said Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Morawiecki had spoken by phone and agreed to “continue their dialogue,” and a statement from the government of Poland said the prime minister’s comment was “by no means intended to deny the Holocaust, or charge the Jewish victims of the Holocaust with responsibility for what was a Nazi German perpetrated genocide.”
The tensions come at a tumultuous time for both Israel and Poland.
Israel experienced heightened clashes along the Gaza border this weekend, and engaged directly with Iranian forces in Syria last weekend. On Tuesday, the Israeli police recommended that Mr. Netanyahu be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Poland, which is governed by the right-wing Law and Justice Party, has been criticized for increasingly nationalist policies that have threatened press freedom, judiciary independence and European unity. Mr. Morawiecki became prime minister in December and announced a sweeping cabinet reshuffle last month.