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Polish restitution law same as Israeli absentee law: MKs Cassif, Abou Shehadeh

CM 15/08/2021

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MKs Ofer Cassif (Joint List) and Sami Abou Shahadeh (Balad) equated the new Polish restitution law to Israel’s Absentee Property Law on Twitter over the weekend.
“The Polish Robbery Law is a racist and abominable law, just like the Absentee Property Law that legalizes the theft of Palestinian property by Jews. The just and human thing to do is to throw these two laws in the dustbin of history and strive for recognition and compensation,” Cassif wrote in a tweet on Saturday.

On Sunday, Abou Shahadeh tweeted, “I suggest Israel serves as a model for Poland, eliminates the Absentee Property Law and returns Palestinian refugee property to its rightful owners. Israel is in no position to lecture anyone in such matters as so far it has simply set a model for land/property theft.”

In 1950, the Knesset passed the Absentees Property Law, which declared that any property situated within the post-war boundaries of Israel and owned by an Arab who had left the country between November 29, 1947 and May 19, 1948, or by a Palestinian who went abroad or to an area of Palestine held by hostile forces up to September 1, 1948, lost all rights to that property.
The law appointed a Custodianship Council for Absentees’ Property, whose president was to be known as the custodian of absentees’ property. It then declared that “every right an absentee had in any property shall pass automatically to the custodian at the time of the vesting of the property; and the status of the custodian shall be the same as was that of the owner of the property.”
In other words, the law stated that all property belonging to “absentee” owners was irretrievably lost to them.
Cassif was deeply involved in Sheikh Jarrah dispute and regularly protested against the government’s intention to evict some of its Palestinian residents.
According to Cassif and others, the Palestinians who are under threat of eviction from Sheikh Jarrah were in exactly the same positions as the Jewish owners of the land they have lived on since 1956. They owned property in west Jerusalem and lost it as a result of the War of Independence, while Jewish groups owned land in east Jerusalem, such as the disputed area in Sheikh Jarrah, and lost it as a result of the War of Independence.
Because of Israeli legislation, the Jewish landowners could recover their land once the city was united, but the Palestinian landowners could not, making the law blatantly discriminatory, protestors have argued.Cassif and Abou Shahade likened Israel’s actions to the newly enacted Polish restitution law.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Polish Communist authorities enacted a massive program of property confiscation across the country, which included large amounts of property previously belonging to Poland’s pre-war Jewish population of some three million people, 90% of whom were murdered by the Nazis.
Much of this property confiscation was carried out in accordance with laws enacted by the Communist regime, but some was done outside the framework of those laws, leaving room for the original owners, or their heirs, to reclaim the property through the Polish courts.
The new law would make it impossible for a court to invalidate a confiscation if 10 years have passed since that confiscation was carried out.
In addition, the new law would make it impossible to even begin proceedings in court to reclaim property if 30 years have passed since the property was confiscated.
Finally, if legal proceedings have already been initiated to reclaim a specific property, but were begun more than 30 years after it was confiscated and the legal process is not complete before the new law enters into force, then that claim would automatically be dismissed.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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