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The Czech Senate on Thursday voted to remove a deadline for claims for the return of artwork seized from Jews during the Nazi occupation.
Parliament's upper chamber voted 32-6 with eight abstentions to remove the deadline, which would have expired Dec. 31, Senate spokesman Petr Kostka said. The lower house of parliament approved the measure last week. It must now be ratified by the president.
About 20,000 paintings and other works of art that originally belonged to Czech Jews have been found in galleries and castles in the Czech Republic, according to the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic. Only about 500 pieces have been returned to their original owners so far, the federation's secretary, Tomas Kraus, said last week.
Kraus said the country's Jewish community planned to increase efforts to inform those living abroad about their right to claim property taken during the Nazi era.
The artworks are displayed online at www.restitution-art.cz., a Web site set up by the Culture Ministry.
Nearly 120,000 Jews lived on Czech territory before World War II. Around 80,000 were perished in Holocaust. Today, the Czech Republic has only a tiny Jewish community of a few thousand.