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‘We make our laws’: Leader of Poland’s ruling party hits back at Israeli criticism of draft WWII Jewish property bill

‘We make our laws’: Leader of Poland’s ruling party hits back at Israeli criticism of draft WWII Jewish property bill
The head of Poland’s ruling party has rejected criticism from Israel over a controversial new draft bill passed by Polish lawmakers concerning the return of Jewish property after World War II.

Poland’s large Jewish community was almost completely eradicated during WWII as the German Nazi Party organized the massacre of around six million European Jews in the Holocaust.

Many Poles, including Jews, had their property seized, some of which happened during the war, but much of it took place in the decades of communism that followed.

In June, Poland’s parliament gave its backing to a new bill which introduces a 30-year statute of limitations for property restitution claims.

The draft law has been heavily criticized for allegedly making it more difficult for Jews to recover former assets, including by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who branded it “a disgrace.”

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The leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, responded to Lapid’s remarks, calling them “unacceptable” in an interview with Polish weekly Gazeta Polska published on Tuesday.

“Firstly, we make our laws ourselves, and secondly, we owe nothing to anyone,” he said. The interview is due to be published in full on Wednesday.

Neither the Israeli government nor Lapid have responded to Kaczynski’s comments.

The draft legislation still needs to be passed by Poland’s upper house of parliament for it to become law. It comes after a 2015 ruling by the Polish Constitutional Tribunal calling for the establishment of a deadline after which unsound administrative decisions in claims against the state can no longer be challenged.

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Those opposed to the bill claim that this would put limits on restitutions claims.

Poland’s PiS party has also sparked controversy by denying claims that the Polish government during WWII had some responsibility for the Holocaust. The party drew criticism over a law introduced in 2018 criminalizing any suggestion that Poland was culpable for the massacre of Jews in the war.

The government later backed down and lawmakers voted to water down the legislation following domestic and international criticism, including from the US and Israel, that the law would constrain history.

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