Poland restitution law risks ‘severe damage’ to relations with Israel
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Poland restitution law risks ‘severe damage’ to relations with Israel

Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid warns plans for 30-year time limit to challenge flawed decisions would deny justice to Holocaust victims

Michael Daventry is foreign editor of Jewish News

Sejm Meeting Hall

(Wikipedia/ The Chancellery of the Senate of the Republic of Poland / Source	Senat Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej/
Author	Katarzyna Czerwińska)
Sejm Meeting Hall (Wikipedia/ The Chancellery of the Senate of the Republic of Poland / Source Senat Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej/ Author Katarzyna Czerwińska)

Poland’s relations with Israel will be damaged “severely”, Yair Lapid has said, if it adopts a law that would prevent Jewish claims for compensation or property seized during the Holocaust.

The Israeli foreign minister issued the warning after the changes moved a step closer to adoption after they were approved by the Polish Senate last week.

Polish officials want to place a time limit on the period during which flawed administrative decisions, including property ownership, can be challenged.

If adopted, the bill would prevent such decisions from being declared void after 30 years.

Poland was home to Europe’s largest Jewish community before the Second World War.

It has returned or offered compensation for some property seized from Jewish communities, but it is the only country in Europe not to have done the same for private property.

The proposed 30-year-limit means bill would also prevent restitution claims relating to Poland’s Communist era.

Lapid said on Friday: “We are following with great concern the progress of the legislative process in Poland regarding the right of restitution of property stolen from Holocaust victims.

“Every step in the progress of legislation is a serious development in our eyes. We will not give up on stubbornly standing up for the dignity of Holocaust victims, preserving their memory and rights.”

After being approved in the Senate, the bill returns to the lower House of Representatives for the approval of amendments. If it passes, it requires only President Andrzej Duda’s signature to become law.

Gideon Taylor of the World Jewish Restitution Organisation said the lower chamber should “reject the bill in its entirety.”

He told the Associated Press that Poland must “once and for all settle the issue of private property by adopting comprehensive restitution legislation.

“As the remaining Holocaust survivors get older, they deserve a measure of justice in their lifetime.”

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