Israel recalls top diplomat from Poland citing ‘anti-Semitic’ restitution law

img ]

Israel recalled its top diplomat from Warsaw on Saturday and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid slammed Poland as an “anti-democratic and illiberal country that does not honor the greatest tragedy in human history” after Polish President Andrzej Duda signed a controversial law to restrict reparations for Holocaust victims.

The law, adopted by parliament on Wednesday, amended existing legislation and imposed a 30-year time limit on legal challenges to restitution claims and ending outstanding claims for the return of seized property that have not reached a final decision in the last 30 years — effectively cutting off many cases.

“Today, Poland approved – not for the first time – an antisemitic and unethical law,” Lapid said in a scathing statement on Saturday evening, adding: “Tonight, Poland has become an anti-democratic and illiberal country that does not honor the greatest tragedy in human history. We must never remain silent. Israel and the Jewish people will certainly not remain silent.”

The United States also opposes the new restitution law, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken had urged Duda not to sign it. But Duda ignored Washington’s entreaty. Lapid warned that Israel was working with the U.S. to coordinate its response.

Duda in a statement explaining his decision acknowledged the “lively and loud debate at home and abroad” that surrounded the law, but insisted he had taken the correct step. Duda alleged that under Poland’s existing law, false claims “often” led to innocent Poles losing their property and “criminal groups became rich at the cost of tens of thousands of people thrown onto the pavement.”

“I am convinced that with my signature the era of legal chaos ends, the era of re-privatization mafias, the uncertainty of millions of Poles and the lack of respect for the basic rights of citizens of our country,” Duda said. “I believe in a state that protects its citizens against injustice.”

Lapid said that in response to Duda’s action, he had instructed Israel’s top diplomat in Warsaw to return home immediately for “indefinite consultations” and that a new ambassador “who was due to leave for Warsaw soon, will not be departing for Poland at this stage.” He also said that Poland’s ambassador, Marek Magierowski, should stay on vacation and not return to Tel Aviv.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will recommend today that the Polish Ambassador to Israel remain on holiday in his country,” Lapid said. “This time should be used to explain to the people of Poland the meaning of the Holocaust to the citizens of Israel, and the extent to which we will refuse to tolerate any contempt for the memory of [the] Holocaust and its victims. It will not end here. We are holding discussions with the Americans to coordinate our future response.”

The diplomatic row over the restitution law is just the latest bad turn in Poland’s external relations. The restitution amendment was passed in the same chaotic parliamentary session on Wednesday as a bill aimed at limiting foreign ownership of Polish media, which Washington has also criticized. Poland also remains in a long-running battle with Brussels over alleged violations of fundamental principles of rule of law and democracy.

Poland’s MFA says Israeli diplomatic moves unfounded and harmful

img ]

Poland’s Foreign Ministry has said it “negatively assessed” the actions of the Israeli Foreign Ministry which said a new Israeli ambassador would not be sent to Warsaw and suggested Poland’s Ambassador to Israel does not return to his posting.

Polish President Andrzej Duda signed into law on Saturday a set of amendments to administrative laws. The key change says that after 30 years of an administrative decision - applying among others to properties - it will be impossible to contest it.

Israel’s foreign affairs minister Yair Lapid, in a protest over a property restitution bill that he has called “anti-Semitic and immoral,” has recalled the country’s charge d’affairs “for indefinite consultations.”

He said that he will instruct the Polish ambassador to Tel Aviv, Marek Magierowski, to not to return to his post and continue his vacation in Poland so he can explain to Poles that Israel “will not tolerate contempt for the memory of the victims and the memory of the Holocaust.”

Lapid also said that the new Ambassador, who was to arrive in Warsaw within days “will remain in Israel for the time being.”

“We negatively assess the conduct of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the unfounded decision to lower the rank of the diplomatic representation in Warsaw,” Polish foreign ministry wrote in a statement on Saturday night.

The ministry called the moves on a diplomatic level “unfounded” and “harmful to our relations” and added that the Polish government would be taking appropriate “political and diplomatic actions with a view to symmetry in bilateral relations.”

Meanwhile, Poland’s deputy foreign minister, Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek, wrote on Twitter that “diplomacy is the art of dialogue based on facts.”

“We will react stoically to emotional, unjustified gestures. We will react to lies by standing truthfully and not allowing the memory of Holocaust victims to be manipulated,” he wrote in his post.

President Duda said the new law would aim to protect current property owners from unexpected disownment due to restitution claims.

“This will put an end to the insecurity felt when a flat or property bought in good faith can be taken away on the strength of a simple administrative decision,” he added.

Israel recalls envoy to protest signing of Poland’s anti-restitution law

img ]

Israel recalled its envoy from Poland to protest a new law that limits the ability of Jews to recover property seized by Nazis during the Holocaust and retained by post-war communist rulers.

“Poland today approved – not for the first time – an immoral, antisemitic law,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in video message he issued on Saturday night.

“This evening I instructed the charge d’affaires at our embassy in Warsaw [Tal Ben-Ari Yaalon] to return immediately to Israel for consultations, for an indefinite period of time,” Lapid said.

cnxps.cmd.push(function () { cnxps({ playerId: ‘36af7c51-0caf-4741-9824-2c941fc6c17b’ }).render(‘4c4d856e0e6f4e3d808bbc1715e132f6’); });

if(window.location.pathname.indexOf(“656089”) != -1){document.getElementsByClassName(“divConnatix”)[0].style.display =“none”;}else if(window.location.pathname.indexOf("/israel-news/") != -1){ document.getElementsByClassName(“divConnatix”)[0].style.display =“none”; var script = document.createElement(‘script’); script.src = ‘'; script.setAttribute(‘pubname’,‘jpostcom’); script.setAttribute(‘widgetname’,‘0011r00001lcD1i_12258’); document.getElementsByClassName(‘divAnyClip’)[0].appendChild(script);}

The newly appointed ambassador to Poland, Yacov Livne, has been asked to remain in Israel “for the time being.”

In addition, Lapid asked Poland’s Ambassador Marek Magierowski, who is out of the country, not to return.

“He should use the time he has on his hands to explain to the Poles what the Holocaust means to Israel’s citizens and the extent to which we will not tolerate contempt for the memory of those who perished and for the memory of the Holocaust. It will not stop here,” Lapid said.

The Polish Foreign Ministry said in response 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.

“appropriate political and diplomatic actions, bearing in mind the principle of symmetry in bilateral relations.” It added that the Polish government would take"appropriate political and diplomatic actions, bearing in mind the principle of symmetry in bilateral relations."

The two nations had hoped that Polish President Andrzej Duda would refrain from signing the controversial bill into law and had worked to prevent such a move.

Their efforts, however, were in vain.

On Saturday Duda said, “I made a decision today on the act, which in recent months was the subject of a lively and loud debate at home and abroad.” He added that, “after an in-depth analysis, I have decided to sign the amendment.”

It was a move that deepened the crisis between the two countries, further straining what had once been a strong relationship. Until this crisis Poland had been a staunch ally to Israel within the European Union.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that “this is a grave step that Israel cannot remain indifferent to.

“Israel views with utmost gravity approval of the law that prevents Jews from receiving compensation for property that was stolen from them during the Holocaust, and regrets the fact that Poland has chosen to continue harming those who have lost everything.

“This is a shameful decision and disgraceful contempt for the memory of the Holocaust,” Bennett added.

Before World War II, Poland had been home to one of the world’s biggest Jewish communities, but it was almost entirely wiped out by the Nazis and Jewish former property owners and their descendants have been campaigning for compensation.

Up to now, Jewish expatriates or their descendants could make a claim that a property had been seized illegally and demand its return, but Polish officials argued this was causing uncertainty over property ownership.

In 2015, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled there should be specific deadlines after which administrative decisions over property titles could no longer be challenged. Changes to the law were adopted by the Polish parliament earlier this week.

The bill sets a 30-year limit for restitution claims.

A State Department spokesperson on Saturday said only that, “we are aware of the recent legislation being signed into law in Poland.” The issue of Jewish property rights in Poland is further complicated because, unlike other EU states, it has not created a fund to give compensation to people whose property was seized.A State Department spokesperson on Saturday said only that, “we are aware of the recent legislation being signed into law in Poland.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday said Washington was deeply concerned that the Polish parliament had passed the bill, and urged Duda not to sign it into law.

Washington is one of Warsaw’s most important allies, but relations between the two countries have been strained by the property issue, as well as other issues such as plans to introduce changes that the opposition says aim to silence a US-owned news channel critical of the government.

World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) on Saturday urged the Polish government to work on resolving the issue of property seized in the past.

“Democracy & justice hits new low in Poland, as President Duda signs a law making it virtually impossible for all former Polish property owners to secure redress for property illegally seized during the Communist era,” Gideon Taylor, chair of operations of the WJRO said in a statement sent to Reuters.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said “as the son of Holocaust survivors, I am deeply disturbed by the law passed in Poland that effectively prevents justice from the victims of the Holocaust and their families.

“Property restitution is a small yet significant part of the process to fulfill the rights of those who have survived and to acknowledge those who have perished in one of the world’s biggest genocides. I call on my international partners to condemn this move in one voice,” Gantz said.