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Israel recalls envoy in protest at Poland WWII restitution law

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (Photo by AFP)

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has recalled the regime’s envoy to Warsaw, after Polish President Andrzej Duda approved a legislation curbing World War II-era restitution claims.

On Saturday, Duda signed into law a measure that sets a 30-year limit on the ability of Jews to recover property seized by Nazi German occupiers and retained by post-war communist rulers.

The polish president said he put his signature to the law "after thorough analysis," hoping that the legislation will "put an end to an era of legal chaos” and "reprivatization mafias,” as well as "the uncertainty of millions of Poles and the disrespect of the basic rights of the country's citizens."

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called the approval of the law "a shameful decision that shows a disgraceful contempt for the memory of the Holocaust."

"This is a grave measure that Israel cannot remain indifferent to," he added in a statement.

Lapid said that Poland passed "an antisemitic and immoral law," and that he had instructed Israel's Charge d'affaires in Warsaw, Tal Ben-Ari Yaalon, to return immediately to the occupied territories for consultations for "an indefinite period of time."

Israel's new ambassador to Poland, who has yet to depart, will not be going, he added, saying the Israeli foreign ministry recommended that the Polish envoy to Tel Aviv, currently on vacation, "continue his vacation in his country.”

The Polish ambassador to Tel Aviv should use his time in Poland to "explain to the Polish people what the Holocaust means to the citizens of Israel and how we will not tolerate contempt for the memory of the victims and the memory of the Holocaust," Lapid noted.

He also said that Israel and the United States are holding talks on possible responses to Poland's move.

In response, the Polish Foreign Ministry said, "Israel's move is severely damaging our relations. We will take appropriate diplomatic and political action, taking into account the principle of reciprocity."

"Poland will not agree to instrumentalize the Holocaust, we are one of the few countries where Jews are safe," Polish presidential aide Jakub Kumoch said.

Meanwhile, Ynet news reported that the Israeli Foreign Ministry is weighing canceling an agreement between the regime and Poland that ended a dispute over another law passed by Warsaw, which criminalized blaming the Polish nation for Holocaust crimes.

The row was resolved in 2018, when Poland softened the law and then Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki, agreed on a joint declaration.

The Holocaust remains a highly sensitive issue among the Poles and has already triggered heated exchanges and diplomatic confrontations between Warsaw and the Tel Aviv regime several times in the past.



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