Foreign Minister Yair Lapid recalled Israel’s envoy to Poland on Saturday night in response to Polish President Andrzej Duda’s ratification earlier in the day of a law that limits restitution for Holocaust-related claims.
“Tonight, I instructed the chargé d’affaires of the Israeli Embassy in Warsaw to return to Israel immediately for indefinite consultations.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will recommend today that the Polish Ambassador to Israel remain on holiday in his country,” Lapid said. “We are holding discussions with the Americans to coordinate our future response.”
The bill, expected to affect some 90 percent of Holocaust restitution claims, was approved last Wednesday by Poland’s Parliament. It blocks awards of restitution and compensation for stolen Jewish property to survivors of the Holocaust and their descendants. The law applies retroactively and is written in a such way as to make it nearly impossible for litigants to appeal any decision made on stolen property.
“Poland today approved – not for the first time – an anti-Semitic and unethical law,” Lapid told reporters.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Israel “views with utmost gravity approval of the law that prevents Jews from receiving compensation for property that was stolen from them during the Holocaust and regrets the fact that Poland has chosen to continue harming those who have lost everything.
“This is a shameful decision and disgraceful contempt for the memory of the Holocaust,” Bennett said, calling it “a grave step that Israel cannot remain indifferent to.”
Lapid added that the new ambassador to Poland, who was supposed to leave soon for Warsaw, will not depart to Poland at this point. Moreover, the Foreign Ministry “will recommend today that the Polish Ambassador to Israel remain on holiday in his country.
“This time should be used to explain to the people of Poland the meaning of the Holocaust to the citizens of Israel, and the extent to which we will refuse to tolerate any contempt for the memory of Holocaust and its victims,” Lapid said. “It will not end here.
“We are holding discussions with the Americans to coordinate our future response.
“This evening Poland became an anti-democratic country, not liberal, and one which does not respect the greatest tragedy in human history.
“We must never be silent,” he added. “Israel and the Jewish nation will certainly not remain silent,” Lapid declared.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, a son of Holocaust survivors, added that he too is “deeply disturbed” by the law, which he said “effectively prevents justice” for victims of the Holocaust and their families.
Gantz said that property restitution is a “small yet significant” part of the process to fulfill the rights of those who survived, and to “acknowledge those who perished in one of the world’s biggest genocides.”
He called on international partners to condemn the Polish move “in one voice.”