Israeli PM criticises Polish restitution law amendment

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reacted to the signing into law of a amendments affecting restitution claims on Saturday, describing the move as "a shameful decision and disgraceful contempt for the memory of the Holocaust."

Polish President Andrzej Duda signed into law on Saturday a set of amendments to administrative laws. The key change says that after 30 years of an administrative decision - applying among others to properties - it will be impossible to contest it.

In a special statement issued on Saturday, Prime Minister Bennet wrote: "Israel views the approval of the law that prevents Jews from receiving compensation for property stolen from them during the Holocaust gravely, and regrets the fact that Poland chooses to continue to harm those who have lost everything."

He described the new laws as "a serious step that Israel will not be able to accept lightly."

Israel's foreign minister, Yair Lapid, wrote on Twitter on Saturday that he would instruct the Israeli charge d'affaires in Warsaw to return to Israel for "indefinite consultations" over the matter. He also said he would instruct the Polish ambassador to Poland, Marek Magierowski, to extend his vacation in Poland in order to explain to Poles that Israel "will not tolerate contempt for the memory of the victims and the memory of the Holocaust."

In a statement for PAP, President Duda said the law "does not close the way to damages for former owners, who can still use civil procedures," adding that he was "firmly opposed" to linking the law to the Holocaust.

He explained that the new regulations aimed to protect current property owners from unexpected disownment due to restitution claims. "This will put an end to the insecurity felt when a flat or property bought in good faith can be taken away on the strength of a simple administrative decision," the president said.