The Polish parliament approved on Wednesday a law limiting the ability of Holocaust survivors and descendants of Holocaust victims to reclaim their property, prompting Israeli officials to take action and issue harsh condemnations.
The Polish Holocaust Restitution Law sets a 30-year deadline for Jews to recover property seized by Nazi Germany in Poland, essentially preventing any Holocaust-era compensation claims or appeals of past decisions.
The law severely restricts the process for Holocaust survivors and their families, as well as other Jewish and non-Jewish property owners, to obtain restitution for property confiscated during Poland’s communist era.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid stated that Israel “will not compromise in any way regarding the memory of the Holocaust. I condemn the legislation that was passed in the Polish Parliament, which damages both the memory of the Holocaust and the rights of its victims.”
He noted that back in 2018 he objected to the joint statement that was adopted between Israel and Poland announcing good relations after ending another Holocaust history-related dispute, and “it is now being reconsidered.” Israel may repeal the diplomatic statement.
“I will continue to oppose any attempt to rewrite history, and to promote concessions that come at the expense of the Holocaust, of the Jewish people or the rights of Holocaust victims. Poland knows what the right thing to do is – repeal the law,” he demanded.
Speaker of the Knesset Mickey Levy decided not to re-establish the Israeli-Polish parliamentary friendship group, saying the law is “a daylight robbery that desecrates the memory of the Holocaust.”
“Poland’s decision to pass this immoral law harms the friendship and bilateral relations between Israel and Poland. Consequently, there is no place to re-establish the parliamentary friendship group between the Israeli Knesset and the Polish Sejm and Senate, which regularly holds various activities to strengthen ties between the countries,” he explained.
He urged Polish President Andrzej Duda to “veto this wrongful law.”
Duda needs to sign the order to become law. His vetoing it is unlikely.
Further diplomatic friction is expected between the two countries.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated the US is “deeply concerned” by the law and urged Duda not sign the bill into law or refer the bill to Poland’s constitutional tribunal.
He said a comprehensive law for resolving confiscated property claims is needed to “provide some measure of justice for victims.” Until such a law is enacted, the pathway to compensation “should not be closed for new claims or those pending decisions in administrative courts.”