It recalls top envoy over legislation that restricts rights of Holocaust survivors
Israel on Saturday condemned Poland’s approval of a law that restricts the rights of Holocaust survivors or their descendants to reclaim property seized by the country’s former communist regime and announced it was recalling its top diplomat in protest.
The move ignited a diplomatic crisis between Israel’s government and the nationalist conservative government in Poland. After years of close ties under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s new government, which includes top officials who are the children of Holocaust survivors, has taken a far more confrontational approach.
Polish President Andrzej Duda earlier in the day signed the law, which addresses appropriations done by the communist government that ruled Poland from the end of Second World War until 1989.
The law itself says nothing about the Holocaust or Second World War. Instead it establishes that any administrative decision issued 30 years ago or more can no longer be challenged, meaning that property owners who had their homes or business seized in the communist era can no longer get compensation.
It is expected to cut off for all time the hopes of some families — both Jewish and non-Jewish — of reclaiming property seized during that era.
Both the U.S. and Israeli governments had strongly urged Poland not to pass the law and Israel had warned it would harm ties.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called Duda’s signing of the law “a shameful decision and disgraceful contempt for the memory of the Holocaust” and said “Poland has chosen to continue harming those who have lost everything.”
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that he had instructed Israel’s charges d’affaires in Warsaw to return home immediately and that the new Israeli Ambassador to Poland, who was scheduled to leave for Warsaw, will remain in Israel.
The Israel Foreign Ministry also said it was recommending that the Polish Ambassador, who is on vacation home, not return to Israel.
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