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Israeli leaders slam Polish anti-restitution law, recall ambassador

Israeli leaders slammed a decision by the Polish president to approve a law that prevents Jews from receiving compensation for property stolen during the Holocaust, calling it anti-Semitic.

"This is a shameful decision and disgraceful contempt for the memory of the Holocaust," Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said. "This is a grave step that Israel cannot remain indifferent to."

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid recalled Israel's ambassador to Poland and will recommend that Poland’s ambassador to Israel remain on vacation in his homeland.

“Poland, not for the first time, today passed an antisemitic and immoral law,” Lapid said. “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.”

President Andrzej Duda signed the law on Saturday saying it 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," Duda said in a statement published on Saturday. "After an in-depth analysis, I have decided to sign the amendment."

Duda added that he hoped the law would end an “era of legal chaos” and “reprivatization mafias.”

Poland's Constitutional Tribunal ruled in 2015 that deadlines should be put in place for challenges over property titles. The Polish parliament ratified the bill this week setting a 30-year limit for restitution claims.

Up until now, Jewish expatriates or their descendants were able to make a claim on a property that was seized against the law and demand its return.

The move is likely to strain relations between Poland and America. After the parliament passed the bill this week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had urged Duda not to sign it into law.

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

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