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Polish PM: Israeli reaction to restitution law ‘groundless and irresponsible’

CM 15/08/2021 1

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Israel’s decision to recall its charge d’affaires from Warsaw is outrageous, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Sunday of the response from Jerusalem to a law making it much more difficult for Holocaust victims and their descendants to recover property confiscated by the Nazis.
“Israel’s decision to lower the rank of the diplomatic representation in Warsaw is groundless and irresponsible, and the words of [Foreign Minister Yair Lapid] arouse outrage of every honest person,” Morawiecki wrote on Facebook.
“No one who knows the truth about the Holocaust and the suffering of Poland during World War II can agree to such a way of conducting politics,” he added.

Morawiecki accused Israel for using the Holocaust for political reasons – an accusation Lapid has volleyed at the Polish government.
“If the Israeli government continues to attack Poland in this way, it will also have a very negative impact on our relations – both bilateral and those in international fora,” Morawiecki warned, in a possible reference to former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cultivation of ties with Eastern European members of the EU who would vote against foreign policies against Israel.
Morawiecki also took issue with the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s recommendation that Polish Ambassador to Israel Marek Magierowski extend his vacation in his home country.
The Polish prime minister claimed that there is “an increase in hatred of Poland and Poles” in Israel, and as such, Magierowski’s children need to be evacuated.
“Poland never leaves its diplomats in need,” Morawiecki wrote.
On Saturday night, the Polish Foreign Ministry said that it took a negative view of Israel’s response and its “groundless decision” to recall its envoy, a move it warned “seriously damaged” the relationship between the two countries.
The Polish government would take “appropriate political and diplomatic actions, bearing in mind the principle of symmetry in bilateral relations,” Warsaw stated.
Lapid announced on Saturday that Israel’s envoy to Poland Tal Ben-Ari Yaalon would be recalled and that Israel would not be sending its appointed ambassador Yacov Livne to Warsaw, soon after Polish President Andrezej Duda signed into law a 30-year statute of limitations on restitution claims for property that had been seized by the Nazis and retained by the communist regime.
Lapid called the new law “immoral, antisemitic.”
“We will not tolerate contempt for the memory of those who perished and for the memory of the Holocaust,” he warned.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and several other cabinet ministers weighed in against the law, as well.
Lapid said he was working with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on a further response.
About 3,000,000 Jews were murdered by the Nazis in Poland, making up about 90% of Polish Jewry. Polish Communist authorities confiscated property across the country in the 1940s and 1950s, including property that had been owned by Jews before World War II.
Some of the property had been seized illegally and could theoretically be reclaimed through Polish courts. However, the new law would not allow such proceedings to take place if 30 years have passed since the property was confiscated. Legal proceedings that have already begun, over 30 years after the confiscation, will be dismissed once the law comes into force.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.


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