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12 Jul, 2022 13:58

Israel and Poland inch closer to bridging WW2 restitution rift

After a period of degraded diplomatic relations, the Israeli ambassador has submitted his credentials to the Polish president
Israel and Poland inch closer to bridging WW2 restitution rift

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has confirmed that Israeli Ambassador Yacov Livne submitted his credentials on Tuesday. The move comes almost a year since the heads of the diplomatic missions of the two nations were recalled over Poland’s controversial law on restitution, which denied Jews compensation for property taken from them during World War II.

Duda’s Israeli counterpart, President Isaac Herzog, called the return of the ambassador “an important first step to advancing Israeli-Polish relations” and said he hoped to reciprocate by receiving the credentials of Poland’s new envoy soon.

Last week, Duda and Herzog held direct talks on the situation. The Polish leader announced the impending restoration of ambassadorial ties after the meeting.

Duda’s foreign relations adviser Jakub Kumoch commented on the progress on Tuesday, stressing that it did not amount to turning the page on the dispute between the two nations, since Israel still had problems with the law that caused the rift. Rather, the two presidents “see a chance for normal relations” he said, adding that he hoped “that this time we will all be able to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Tensions between the two nations had escalated over several years, culminating in the recalling of envoys in August 2021. The trigger was a Polish law that limited the ability of Jews to seek restitution for property seized from them during the Nazi German occupation of Poland and not subsequently returned after the war. 

At the time, the Israeli government called the legislation “anti-Semitic and immoral.” Polish officials branded the criticism as being symptomatic of “an increased hatred of Poland and Poles” in Israel.