The lower house of Poland's parliament, or Sejm

Poland hits back at Israel over WWII claims law

Polish PM says Jerusalem's decision to withdraw its charge d'affaires to Warsaw was 'baseless and irresponsible', warning move would 'increase hatred towards Poland and Poles'

AFP |
Published: 08.15.21, 17:14
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Sunday rejected accusations of anti-Semitism from Israel over a new law that will restrict claims on properties seized in the aftermath of World War II.
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  • Morawiecki said Israel's decision to withdraw its charge d'affaires to Warsaw on Saturday was "baseless and irresponsible" and accused the government there of playing "party interests".
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    פולין ורשה חוק הטלוויזיה הפרלמנט הפולני
    פולין ורשה חוק הטלוויזיה הפרלמנט הפולני
    The lower house of Poland's parliament, or Sejm
    (Photo: EPA)
    "No one who knows the truth about the Holocaust and Poland's suffering during World War II can accept this way of conducting politics," he said in a Facebook post.
    Morawiecki warned Israel's move would "increase hatred towards Poland and Poles" and said the children of Poland's ambassador to Israel were being brought back to Poland.
    "If the Israeli government continues to attack Poland in this way, it will have a very negative impact on our relations, both bilaterally and in international forums," he said.
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    בנימין נתניהו ומתיאוש מורבייצקי
    בנימין נתניהו ומתיאוש מורבייצקי
    Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki
    (Photo: EPA)
    The law sets a 30-year limit on legal challenges to property confiscations -- many of them relating to Poland's once-thriving Jewish community.
    Since the confiscations mostly occurred during the Communist era in the aftermath of the war, the legislation will effectively block thousands of claims.
    The government says it will bolster legal certainty in the property market but opponents say it is unjust to people with legitimate claims, including Holocaust survivors and their families.
    "Poland today approved... an immoral, anti-Semitic law," Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Saturday after Polish President Andrzej Duda signed off on the legislation.
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     Polish President Andrzej Duda
     Polish President Andrzej Duda
    Polish President Andrzej Duda
    (Photo: AP)
    Lapid told Israel's charge d'affaires in Warsaw to return home immediately for consultations.
    "The new Israeli ambassador to Poland, who was scheduled to depart to Warsaw, will remain in Israel for the time being," Lapid added.
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett slammed the law as "shameful" and said it showed "disgraceful contempt for the Holocaust's memory".
    "This is a grave measure that Israel cannot remain indifferent to," he said in a statement.
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    טקס שיתוף פעולה מדיני ישראל מרוקו
    טקס שיתוף פעולה מדיני ישראל מרוקו
    Foreign Minister Yair Lapid
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Lapid said the foreign ministry would recommend that the Polish envoy to Israel, currently on vacation, "continue his vacation in his country".
    "He should use the time on his hands to explain to Poles the meaning of the Holocaust to Israelis," Lapid said.
    Six million Poles, half of them Jewish, were killed during World War II in Poland.
    After the war, Communist authorities nationalized vast numbers of properties that had been left empty because their owners had been killed or fled.
    While the law covers both Jewish and non-Jewish claimants, campaigners say Jewish owners will be disproportionately affected because they were often late in lodging claims after the war.

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