Lapid warns ties with Poland “severely” damaged as Holocaust restitution law advances
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid warned Poland on Friday that their actions were seriously damaging relations with Israel after a bill on Holocaust restitution was put forward in the Polish Senate.
The Senate on Friday approved a bill that will set a 10 to 30-year deadline for challenging past administrative restitution decisions. Critics of the law argue that it will effectively prevent Jews from recovering property seized before and during the Holocaust.
“The adoption of the Polish property law now in Warsaw will seriously damage our relations with Poland. Poland know full well what the right and appropriate thing to do is, ”Lapid said in his latest tack in the growing rift between the two countries.
“We are watching with great concern the progress of legislation in Poland regarding the rights to restitution of property that is stolen from victims of the Holocaust,” said Lapid.
The Senate approval came weeks after the Polish parliament passed the bill, sparking the row between Jerusalem and Warsaw.
“Every step that the legislation advances is a serious development in our eyes,” Lapid said. “We will not be dissuaded from resolutely defending the honor of the victims of the Holocaust and the preservation of their memory and their rights. “
The dispute over the law saw the two countries summon their respective envoys to express their anger at the measures and an angry back and forth between politicians.
Lapid was particularly harsh in his sentence, calling the law “immoral and disgraceful”.
In June, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki hit back at Lapid and vowed to push the bill forward.
“I can only say that as long as I am prime minister, Poland will not pay for German crimes: neither zloty, nor euro, nor dollar,” Morawiecki said.
Lapid at the time called Morawiecki’s insinuation that the victims and their families were looking for the money “anti-Semitic.”
“We are fighting for the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, for the pride of our people, and we will not allow any parliament to pass laws aimed at denying the Holocaust,” he said. .
Polish officials accused Lapid of exaggerating the issue for internal political reasons.
Poland’s Holocaust rendition is unpopular among many citizens, and Polish President Andrzej Duda campaigned against it ahead of her re-election last year. Many Polish citizens believe that claims should only be made to Nazi Germany and that it is unfair that Poland pays Holocaust-era damages.
“There will be no damages paid for property without an heir,” Duda said last year. “I will never sign a law that will privilege one ethnic group over others. Damages should be paid by whoever started the war.
Poland is the only country in the European Union that has not adopted comprehensive national legislation to return or compensate private property confiscated by the Nazis or nationalized by the Communist regime.
The issues of Holocaust rendition and revisionism have repeatedly tainted Israeli-Polish relations. In 2018, Warsaw passed a law that prohibited accusing the Polish nation or state of complicity in German Nazi war crimes. The move sparked an outcry from Israel, but the stalemate largely ended when Poland agreed to change the law to remove any criminal penalties.
In January 2020, Duda refused to attend the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem after he was not invited to speak at the event. A week later, at a meeting in Krakow, Israeli President Rivlin claimed that “many Poles witnessed and even aided the murder of Jews” during the Holocaust, which Poland has tried to deny, despite historical evidence.