Poland: FM Lapid’s attack on Holocaust Reparations Law is ‘indicative of ignorance of the facts’

June 28, 2021 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s attack on Poland’s amended Code of Administrative Procedure that relates to reparations for Jewish victims of the Holocaust is “indicative of ignorance of the facts and the Polish law,” Poland’s Foreign Ministry charged.

The Polish legislation, which was passed by the Sejm on Thursday with 309 votes in favour, no opposition, and 120 abstentions, sets a 30-year deadline for Jews to recover property seized by Nazi Germany in Poland, essentially preventing any Holocaust-era compensation claims or appeals of past decisions.

Lapid stated in response to the vote at the Sejm that “no law will change history,” and the law is “a disgrace and will seriously harm relations between the countries.”

Israel “will stand as a wall of protection in defence of the memory of the Holocaust, as well as to defend the honour of Holocaust survivors and their property. Poland, on whose soil millions of Jews were murdered, knows what is the right thing to do,” he said.

“Preserving the memory of the Holocaust and being concerned for the rights of Holocaust survivors, including the matter of restitution of Jewish property from the Holocaust era, are central components of the State of Israel’s experience and its defined identity,” he underscored.

He pointed to the Terezin Declaration, issued in 2009, which calls for all relevant states to act for the restitution of Jewish property that was stolen during the Holocaust era.

“Israel expects that these states will act according to this principle. The fact that Poland is forsaking the Declaration is extremely worrisome and grave,” he demanded.

The draft law “will in effect prevent the restitution of Jewish property, or the provision of compensation, to Holocaust survivors and their heirs. It is a horrific injustice and disgrace that harms the rights of Holocaust survivors, their heirs, and members of the Jewish communities that existed in Poland for hundreds of years. This is an incomprehensible action,” he explained.

” We view with gravity the attempt to prevent the restitution of the property that was stolen by the Nazis (and their helpers) in European states during the Holocaust to their legal owners,” he concluded.

Poland on Friday noted “with concern the statements of the Israeli side on the amended Code of Administrative Procedure.”

“Those comments are indicative of ignorance of the facts and the Polish law. Poland is by no means responsible for the Holocaust, an atrocity committed by the German occupant also on Polish citizens of Jewish origin. Millions of citizens of the Second Polish Republic became victims of German crimes,” Poland Foreign Ministry said Friday.

The amendment results from the obligation to implement the Constitutional Tribunal’s verdict of May 2015 into the Polish legal system, the statement said.

The Tribunal ruled that the situation where no time limit applies to the possibility of declaring invalid the administrative decisions issued with a gross violation of law is contrary to the principle of a democratic state of law. The adoption of the Act by the Polish Sejm as the performance of the Tribunal’s verdict is a legal consequence of the judgment and a duty of the authorities, Poland said

The amendment is “based on the need to ensure citizens’ trust in the state and to implement the principle of legal certainty. The possibility of challenging a decision issued by public authorities cannot be unlimited in time. Such a situation gives rise to uncertainty as to the existing legal relationship and creates the impression that a decision is provisional,” the statement said.

Israel and Poland have repeatedly clashed in recent years over issues pertaining to the Holocaust, its history and memory, but these incidents have not had a significant impact on the relations between the two countries.

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