Israel and Poland are in diplomatic line over Holocaust property bill Israel News


Two countries are summoning envoys to each other over Polish legislation that could block World War II restitution claims.

Israel has summoned Poland’s ambassador to express its “deep disappointment” over a Polish bill that critics say will make it difficult for Jews to recover property they lost in World War II, an action that sparked a reciprocal reaction from Warsaw.

The lower house of the Polish parliament on Thursday passed a bill introducing a statute of limitations for claims for restitution of property, which got a furious response from Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who called it of “misfortune.”

A statement from the Israeli foreign ministry on Sunday said the legislation could affect up to 90 percent of requests for restitution of property of Holocaust survivors and their descendants.

“This is not a historical debate about the responsibility of the Holocaust, but a moral debt of Poland to those who were its citizens and whose property was looted during the Holocaust and under the communist regime.” , is said in the statement.

In turn, the Polish Foreign Ministry convened the Israeli affairs post in Warsaw, Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski said on Sunday.

Jablonski said Warsaw would like to set the record on legislation.

Such Ben-Ari Yaalon, the Israeli business leader, “has been summoned … and we will tell him decisively and factually what it is all about,” the Polish diplomat told state television TVP.

“We believe that unfortunately what we are dealing with here is a situation that certain Israeli politicians are exploiting for domestic political purposes,” he added.

The Israeli embassy in Warsaw tweeted on Thursday that “this immoral law will seriously affect relations between our countries.”

Poland’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday that the introduction of deadlines “would lead to the elimination of fraud and irregularities, which occurred on a large scale.”

“The new regulations do not in any way restrict the possibility of filing civil claims for damages, regardless of the nationality or origin of the plaintiff,” he added.

Compensation campaign

Almost all Jews in Poland, about three million people, were destroyed by the Nazi Holocaust. Former Jewish landowners and their descendants have been campaigning for compensation from Poland since the fall of communism in 1989. Postwar communist rulers retained Jewish property confiscated by the Nazis.

The legislation would implement a 2015 Constitutional Court ruling that there should be a deadline after which defective administrative decisions can no longer be challenged. The law sets this period at 30 years.

The legacy of World War II and the related Polish legislation above have strained ties between Poland and Israel.

Thousands of Poles risked their lives to protect their Jewish neighbors during the war. But research published since 1989 showed that thousands also killed Jews or denounced those who hid them from German occupiers.

In 2018 the government was forced to back down and withdraw parts of a Holocaust law that imposed prison sentences on people who suggested the nation was complicit in Nazi crimes, which had infuriated the United States and Israel.

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