Israel, Poland resume previous diplomatic ties, will restore ambassadors

Part of the diplomatic rift resulted from Poland's new restitution law, which would make it much more difficult for heirs of Holocaust survivors to claim property in the Central European country.

Polish and Israeli flags at a march next to Auschwitz in April (photo credit: REUTERS)
Polish and Israeli flags at a march next to Auschwitz in April
(photo credit: REUTERS)

After almost a year in which there has been no Polish ambassador in Israel and no Israeli ambassador in Poland, ambassadors will be restored to both countries, following a conversation on Monday between President Isaac Herzog and Polish President Andrzej Duda.

The conversation was initiated by Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. Yacov Livne, ambassador designate to Poland, is due to present his credentials in a few days, and a new Polish ambassador to Israel will soon be appointed, according to Duda.

Part of the diplomatic rift resulted from Poland’s new Restitution Law, which would make it much more difficult for heirs of Holocaust survivors to claim property in the Central European country.

During the Second World War, a great deal of Jewish property was appropriated by the Germans and then by the Soviets. The issue is so legally complicated that it leaves little room for restitution after so long a period in time.

Both presidents expressed hope that future disputes between their countries will be resolved through sincere and open dialogue in a spirit of mutual respect.

 Entrance gate at Auschwitz concentration camp (credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS) Entrance gate at Auschwitz concentration camp (credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Current disagreements between Israel, Poland

Among the current disagreements between the two countries is the issue of content in educational tours. Warsaw has long objected to such tours from Israel having their focus almost entirely on the Holocaust and Jewish suffering, without relating to the suffering of the Polish people as a whole.

Poland also continues to fight a battle regarding the forced labor and extermination camps, which were set up by the Germans on Polish soil and that were not Polish camps. Nonetheless, even well-educated people who are familiar with the history of World War II continue to refer to them as Polish camps, including Israeli tour guides.

Israel, on the other hand, objects to the recent rise in antisemitism in Poland and to the sale of metal and ceramic figures cast in the negative-stereotyped images of Jews.