Poland recalls envoy to Israel in row over WW2 property claims law

Poland recalls envoy to Israel in row over WW2 property claims law
A row between Poland and Israel over a Polish law related to property claims for survivors of the Nazi Holocaust has led to both countries recalling their ambassadors.
2 min read
Poland recalled its ambassador to Israel after Israel's charge d'affaires in Warsaw was ordered to return home to Tel Aviv [source: Getty]

Poland on Monday recalled its ambassador to Israel two days after Jerusalem did the same over a Polish law curbing World War II-era property claims, which the Israelis have slammed as "anti-Semitic".

President Andrzej Duda on Saturday approved legislation that will severely restrict claims on properties seized by the state after World War II.

Warsaw says it will bolster legal certainty in the property market but opponents say it is unjust to people with legitimate claims, including Holocaust survivors and their families.

The "ambassador to Israel will remain in the country [Poland] until further notice," the foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.

The move came, it said, in response to the "recent unjustified actions of the State of Israel, including the unfounded decision to lower the level of diplomatic relations" and "unacceptable statements" by Israel's foreign minister, among others.

"The decision on the permanent level of the Polish diplomatic representation in Israel will be made in the following days," the statement said, adding that Warsaw would also not send the deputy ambassador. "Another employee" would temporarily manage the embassy in Tel Aviv.

Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Saturday recalled the country's envoy to Poland over the new law, which he called "immoral" and "anti-Semitic".

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On Monday, the United States also signalled its displeasure over the law.

"We deeply regret the adoption of these amendments," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement, urging Warsaw to develop a legal procedure to resolve confiscated property claims.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has slammed the legislation as "shameful" and said it showed "disgraceful contempt for the Holocaust's memory".

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Sunday rejected the accusations of anti-Semitism.

He said Israel's decision to recall its charge d'affaires to Warsaw was "baseless and irresponsible" and accused the Israeli government of prioritising "party interests".

"No-one who knows the truth about the Holocaust and Poland's suffering during World War II can accept this way of conducting politics," he said on Facebook.