Warsaw, Poland-Israel accuses Holocaust survivors or their descendants of legislation restricting the right to reclaim property seized by the country’s former communist regime on Saturday, protesting and recalling the best diplomats Announced that there is.
The move ignited a diplomatic crisis between the new Israeli government and the Polish nationalist conservative government. After years of close ties under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the new Israeli government, including senior officials who are children of Holocaust survivors, has taken a much more confrontational approach.
Earlier that day, Polish President Andrzej Duda signed a law dealing with diversions made by the Communist government that governed Poland from the end of World War II to 1989.
The law itself says nothing about the Holocaust or World War II. Instead, it is no longer possible to challenge administrative decisions made more than 30 years ago, establishing that real estate owners whose homes and businesses were seized during the Communist era can no longer be compensated. increase.
It is expected that some families, both Jewish and non-Jewish, will always cut off their hopes of regaining the property seized at that time.
Both the US and the Israeli government urged Poland not to pass the law, and Israel warned that it would hurt relations.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called the signing of Duda’s bill “a shameful decision and shameful contempt for Holocaust memory,” and “Poland chose to continue harming those who lost everything.” Stated.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid instructed Israel’s Chargé d’Affaires in Warsaw to return immediately, saying that the new Israeli ambassador, who was scheduled to leave for Warsaw, will remain in Israel.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry also said that the Polish ambassador in the villa was urging him not to return to Israel.
“Poland has approved immoral anti-Semitic law today, not for the first time,” said Rapid, whose deceased father was a Holocaust survivor.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said he was the son of a Holocaust survivor and was “deeply upset.”
“Returning property is a small but important part of the process of fulfilling the rights of survivors and recognizing those who died in one of the world’s largest genocide,” Gantz said.
Duda said on Saturday that he had carefully analyzed the matter and decided to sign a law to end legal uncertainties and fraud related to real estate with suspected ownership decades after seizure.
The law did not distinguish between Jewish and non-Jewish claimants, and Duda said he strongly opposed anyone who suggested that the law was specifically directed at Jews who survived the Holocaust.
“I explicitly reject this rhetoric and say it with all my might,” Duda said. “Connecting this act with the Holocaust raises my firm opposition.”
Before World War II, Poland was home to Europe’s largest Jewish community of about 3.5 million people. Most were killed in the Holocaust and their property was confiscated by the Nazis.
Some of the few Polish Jews who survived faced violence and persecution in the hands of Poles after the war and were established as post-Holocaust Jewish sanctuaries and now migrate to their home countries such as the United States and Israel. Driven many people to do. For tens of thousands of older Holocaust survivors.
Polish post-war communist authorities seized many of these properties, along with the property of many non-Jewish owners in Warsaw and other cities.
When communism collapsed in 1989, it opened the possibility for plaintiffs to regain their family’s property. Some proceedings have been settled in court, but Poland has not passed comprehensive legislation governing the restoration or compensation of seized property.
Complicating the matter is that some criminal groups over the past few years have falsely claimed to represent legitimate owners by fraudulently acquiring valuable assets and later expelling tenants from those assets. That is.
“I am convinced that my signature will end the era of legal turmoil, the era of the reprivatized mafia, the uncertainty of millions of Poles, and the lack of respect for the fundamental rights of our citizens. I believe in a nation that protects its citizens from injustice. “
This law was widely supported throughout Poland’s political spectrum.
The last major diplomatic crisis between Israel and Poland was seen by many in Israel as an attempt to curb discussions of the crimes Poles committed against Jews during Warsaw’s occupation of Germany in World War II. It broke out in 2018 when the law was introduced. The law was eventually abolished and has not been applied.
By Vanessa Gera and Josef Federman