Israel reprimands Polish ambassador over Restitution Law

Restitution Row: After Polish PM blasts Foreign Minister Yair Lapid for criticizing Restitution Law, Israel summons Polish ambassador.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Polish Ambassador to Israel Marek Magierowski
Polish Ambassador to Israel Marek Magierowski
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The Israeli Foreign Ministry summoned Poland’s ambassador to Israel for a dressing down Sunday, after senior Polish leaders excoriated Israel’s foreign minister for criticizing legislation barring restitution for Holocaust-era theft of Jewish property.

Marek Magierowski, the Polish ambassador to Israel, was called in for a reprimand by the Israeli Foreign Ministry Sunday afternoon, the ministry said.

"The legislation will have an impact on relations between the two countries, Poland needs to return to the discourse on property restitution, which was stopped in 2019."

Magierowski was summoned after Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki doubled down on support for the controversial restitution law, which won support in the lower chamber of the Polish parliament last week.

Morawiecki said the law would ensure “Poland does not pay for Nazi crimes,” and lambasted Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid for his sharp criticism last week of the restitution law.

“These remarks indicate ignorance and a fundamental lack of understanding of the facts and of Polish law,” he said. “Poland is in no way responsible for the Holocaust, an atrocity committed by the German occupier also on Polish citizens of Jewish descent. Lapid’s statement should be unequivocally condemned.”

Morawiecki’s words were partially a response to a statement by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who condemned the Polish Parliament’s decision in a sharp-worded attack.

“Poland’s draft law will in effect prevent the restitution of Jewish property or the provision of compensation to Holocaust survivors and their heirs,” Lapid said last week. “This is a horrific injustice and disgrace … an incomprehensible action … a disgrace that will not erase the horrors or the memory of the Holocaust.”

While many other countries have passed property restitution laws related to the Holocaust era, Poland has yet to do so, despite criticism from the United States and others.

Now, it appears, the country is doubling down on its refusal to accept culpability for the loss of property incurred by the around three million Jews who once resided in Poland, and refuses also to be cowed by international pressure. The draft bill just passed by Poland’s lower house of Parliament (with 309 votes in favor, none against, and 120 abstentions) will limit to 30 years the time period during which it is permissible to challenge administrative decisions regarding lost property, counted from 1989, when Communist rule ended in Poland – and therefore effectively ending any possibility of new claims.