Israel’s foreign ministry has summoned Poland’s Ambassador Marek Magierowski over a new law voted by the lower house of the Polish parliament that Israelis fear would block Holocaust compensation claims.
The law sets a 30-year deadline for Jews to recover property seized by Nazi German forces. According to its critics, it essentially prevents any World War II-era compensation claims or appeals of past decisions.
The Polish ambassador “was told that this legislation will have a negative impact on relations between our two countries.”
In a separate statement, the ministry said up to 90% of property restitution claims could be affected. It also commented on Warsaw’s argument that Poland was in no way responsible for the Holocaust.
“This is not a historical debate about responsibility for the Holocaust but a moral debt of Poland to those who were its citizens and whose property was looted during the Holocaust and under the Communist regime,” Israeli officials said.
In turn, Poland said it had summoned Israeli Charge d’Affaires Tal Ben-Ari Yaalon to a meeting set for Monday.
“We believe that unfortunately what we’re dealing with here is a situation that certain Israeli politicians are exploiting for internal political purposes,” Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski told Polish state broadcaster TVP.
Last week, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called the new Polish law “immoral” and said it will ‘’seriously harm relations between the countries.’’
“Preserving the memory of the Holocaust and being concerned for the rights of Holocaust survivors, including the matter of restitution of Jewish property from the Holocaust era, are central components of the State of Israel’s experience and its defined identity,’’ Lapid stated.
“They are also important elements of the endeavors of Israel’s Foreign Ministry. This is a duty grounded in values, morals and history, which we all fulfill with pride.
“The Terezin Declaration, issued in 2009, calls for all relevant states to act for the restitution of Jewish property that was stolen during the Holocaust era. Israel expects that these states will act according to this principle. The fact that Poland is forsaking the Declaration is extremely worrisome and grave,’’ Lapid added.
“Poland’s draft law will in effect prevent the restitution of Jewish property, or the provision of compensation, to Holocaust survivors and their heirs. It is a horrific injustice and disgrace that harms the rights of Holocaust survivors, their heirs, and members of the Jewish communities that existed in Poland for hundreds of years,’’ he said.