Poland, Israel move close to agreement on school visits

Visits to Poland by Israeli youth groups may resume following diplomatic talks between Warsaw and Jerusalem, the Polish Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

Last June, the Israeli government decided to cancel educational trips to Poland for Israeli youth due to a dispute with Warsaw over whether security officers accompanying the groups could carry weapons, which they had done in the past.

In October, 2022, the Israeli ambassador to Poland, Yacov Livne, said during commemorations marking the 79th anniversary of a prisoner revolt at the Nazi German death camp Sobibor in eastern Poland, that Israeli student visits had been made impossible due to a decision taken by the Polish Foreign Ministry.

But talks looking to resolve the dispute appear to have made progress.

"Although a final agreement has not yet been reached, in the course of talks held through diplomatic channels in recent days, the positions have moved closer together that in the near future a comprehensive contract will be signed between Poland and Israel regulating trips of organised groups of Israeli youth to Poland," the ministry wrote in a statement on its website.

The Foreign Ministry stressed that Warsaw had always been ready to host Israeli citizens in Poland, both travelling individually and in organised groups, under existing bilateral visa-free agreements.

"We advocate the promotion of interpersonal contacts between Poles and Israelis, especially regarding the younger generation; it is of key importance to increasing understanding between our nations," the statement continued.

The ministry added that talks on resuming the trips had been continuing since the beginning of last year and said the two parties were working on achieving a solution satisfactory to both.

Welcome to The First News weekly newsletter

Every Friday catch up on our editor’s top pick of news about Poland, including politics, business, life and culture. To receive your free email subscription, sign up today.