Diplomatic Tensions Flare Between Israel and Poland Over Holocaust Restitution Law

On Sunday, Israel and Poland demanded a meeting with each other's ambassadors over legislation in Poland that would limit restitution for victims of the Holocaust.

The tensions are not new, but the rift is growing wider between the two nations over the Polish treatment of victims of the Holocaust and their heirs. The bill currently advancing through Poland's parliament would put a 10-to-30-year limit on the time Jews have to contest past decisions on restitution. It would potentially limit Jews from regaining any property that was stolen as a result of the Holocaust.

Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called the legislation "immoral and a disgrace. Polish Prime Minister Mateus Morawiecki fired back, "I can only say that as long as I am the prime minister, Poland will not pay for German crimes: Neither zloty, nor euro, nor dollar."

History—and who is to blame—is really at the heart of this battle with Poland to "never forget" the Holocaust. Making restitution for the Holocaust is a hot-button topic for many Poles. Poland is the only European Union country that has not made legal provisions for Jews to reclaim or be compensated for private property seized by the Nazis or the communists. Last year, Andrzej Duda, newly re-elected president of Poland, campaigned last year against restitution measures for Holocaust victims.