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Israel sends its Polish ambassador to Warsaw to help Israelis in Ukraine cross the border amid Russian invasion

Foreign Minister Lapid praises Israel’s "fruitful" cooperation with Poland, signals warming ties between the two nations  

Israeli and Polish flags (Photo: Shutterstock)

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Saturday sent its ambassador to Poland into Warsaw to provide diplomatic representation on Ukraine’s western border following Russia’s invasion.

Lapid made the decision to deploy the Ambassador to Poland Yacov Livne in order "to enhance assistance to Israeli citizens crossing the border from Ukraine to Poland and given the importance of the events and the central place that Poland fills,” according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry.

The invasion of Ukraine, ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has led to a rise in Israel’s diplomatic activity with Poland. Israel’s embassy staff – having already relocated from Kyiv to Lviv in Ukraine – is now preparing to cross the border into Poland, although there was no confirmation from Poland on the decision.

Last summer, a diplomatic crisis developed between Israel and Poland when Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett slammed a decision by Polish President Andrzej Duda to approve a law preventing Jews from receiving compensation for property stolen during the Holocaust.

“This is a shameful decision and disgraceful contempt for the memory of the Holocaust," Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the time. "This is a grave step that Israel cannot remain indifferent to,” referring to the decision as both “immoral” and “anti-Semitic.”

“Poland, not for the first time, today passed an anti-Semitic and immoral law,” Lapid added. “Today Poland turned into an anti-democratic, illiberal country that doesn’t respect the greatest tragedy in human history. We must never remain silent. Israel and the Jewish people definitely will not be silent.”

Duda, however, emphasized that the legislation was not directed against Jews who survived the Holocaust and is not anti-Semitic. 

“I made a decision today on the act, which in recent months was the subject of a lively and loud debate at home and abroad," he said in August, adding that he hoped the law would end an “era of legal chaos” and “re-privatization mafias.”

While Poland rejected claims of anti-Semitism regarding the legislation, diplomats noted it was the only country in the European Union that did not pass comprehensive national legislation to return, or provide compensation for, private property confiscated by the Nazis or by the communist regime.

Lapid then blasted another controversial statement made by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, accusing him of peddling the anti-Semitic stereotype of Jews and money. 

The foreign minister subsequently recalled Tal [Ben-Ari] Ya’alon from Warsaw and indefinitely delayed sending the new Israeli ambassador into Poland. 

At the time, Lapid recommended that Israel’s Polish ambassador “remain on vacation in his homeland to explain to his government the consequences of this law to Israel.”

However, by November, ties allegedly began warming between the two nations when Israel returned Ya’alon to Warsaw.

In his Twitter post on Saturday, Lapid praised the recent collaboration between Israeli diplomats and Poland following Putin's attack on Ukraine and expressed his "thanks to Polish authorities for their assistance."

“Since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, the Israeli Embassy in Warsaw, headed by charge d’affaires, Tal Ben-Ari Ya’alon, has worked in fruitful cooperation with the Polish authorities in the effort to assist Israelis leaving Ukraine, and we would like to express our gratitude to the Polish authorities for this assistance,” according to the statement.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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