29th Mar 2023

Israel and Poland expel diplomats in Holocaust dispute

  • "The days of Poles harming Jews without consequence have passed and will not return," Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid said (Photo: Wikipedia)

Poland and Israel have all-but severed diplomatic ties after Poland ratified a new law banning Holocaust-era property restitutions.

Israel said on Saturday (14 August) that it was recalling its top diplomat in Poland, chargé d'affaires Tal Ben-Ari Yaalon, for an "indefinite period" and that its new ambassador would not be coming either.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Its foreign minister, Yair Lapid, also said he "recommends that the Polish ambassador to Israel [Marek Magierowski] prolong his vacation in his country," and uses his time to "explain to the Polish people ... how we [Israelis] will not tolerate contempt for the memory of the victims and the memory of the Holocaust."

The Polish foreign ministry replied saying: "We will take appropriate diplomatic and political action, taking into account the principle of reciprocity".

And Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki complained of "growing hatred towards Poland and Polish citizens in Israel", while promising to "safely bring back home the children of Poland's ambassador to Israel".

Israel's Lapid also criticised Poland in strident terms.

"The days of Poles harming Jews without consequence have passed and will not return," Lapid said.

The new law was "antisemitic and unethical" and Poland had become "an anti-democratic and illiberal country," he added.

"It will not end here. We are holding discussions with the Americans to coordinate our future response," Lapid said.

Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett called Poland's law "shameful". Its defence minister, Benny Gantz, said he was "deeply disturbed" by it.

The law imposes a 30-year moratorium on property claims, ruling out any further WW2-era or communist-period cases.

For his part, Polish president Andrzej Duda defended it in a long statement, saying property restitutions in Poland had become "chaotic" and that he "rejected the rhetoric" that the law was aimed at Jews.

"Let me remind you that 6 million Polish citizens died in World War 2 ... and the German perpetrators of the war never paid Poland any reparations," Duda noted.

Israel was "exploiting this tragedy [WW2] for party-political reasons" in an "irresponsible way", Poland's Morawiecki also said.

Morawiecki noted, in separate comments on Sunday at a Polish memorial for a 1920 battle against Russia, that the West owed Poland a "civilisational debt" because its soldiers had halted the advance of the Soviet Union in Europe.

"Europe has the Polish soldier to thank for the defence of the Latin civilisation," Morawiecki said.

Media law veto?

The Polish parliament, last week, also passed a new law banning majority foreign ownership of media firms, in what critics say was meant to dismantle Poland's largest independent TV station, the US-owned TVN.

The US has complained about both the restitutions law and the media legislation, dubbed 'Lex TVN'.

The EU has also voiced concern over freedom of expression in Poland, alongside its long-standing worries on lack of judicial independence.

But Duda indicated that he might veto Lex TVN in remarks made on Sunday.

"I assure you I will always defend constitutional principles, including free speech", he said, while also promising to "make sure undertakings with our allies [the US] are respected".

"I remind you that, a few years ago, I vetoed reforms to the electoral law on the European Parliament, because the changes might have limited [democratic] representation," Duda said.


Is Poland ending 200 years of freedom of expression?

Poland's ruling coalition is aiming for a 'Putinisation' of Polish media and is therefore following three steps to silence journalists. Now not only the EU, but the US too is reacting saying this is incompatible with Nato membership.


Textbook hypocrisy: EU's new low point on Palestine

Brussels institutions are devoting time not to Israel's illegal settlements and the two-state solution, but to an entirely different, peripheral issue: an EU-funded study of Palestinian Authority schoolbooks, published in June by the Georg-Eckert Institute in Germany.


The first anniversary of the Abraham Accords

More than 55 agreements between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain are currently underway. These lay the foundation for practical cooperation in almost all fields including: finance, communications, economy, culture, tourism, taxation, investment protection, freedom of movement, water, agriculture and energy.


What does China really want? Perhaps we could try asking

Perhaps even more surprising to the West was the fact that the Iran-Saudi Arabia deal was not brokered by the United States, or the European Union, but by the People's Republic of China. Since when was China mediating peace agreements?


Biden's 'democracy summit' poses questions for EU identity

From the perspective of international relations, the EU is a rare bird indeed. Theoretically speaking it cannot even exist. The charter of the United Nations, which underlies the current system of global governance, distinguishes between states and organisations of states.

Latest News

  1. The overlooked 'crimes against children' ICC arrest warrant
  2. EU approves 2035 phaseout of polluting cars and vans
  3. New measures to shield the EU against money laundering
  4. What does China really want? Perhaps we could try asking
  5. Dear EU, the science is clear: burning wood for energy is bad
  6. Biden's 'democracy summit' poses questions for EU identity
  7. Finnish elections and Hungary's Nato vote in focus This WEEK
  8. EU's new critical raw materials act could be a recipe for conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. InformaConnecting Expert Industry-Leaders, Top Suppliers, and Inquiring Buyers all in one space - visit Battery Show Europe.
  2. EFBWWEFBWW and FIEC do not agree to any exemptions to mandatory prior notifications in construction
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ways to prevent gender-based violence
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Economic gender equality now! Nordic ways to close the pension gap
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Pushing back the push-back - Nordic solutions to online gender-based violence
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: The Nordics are ready to push for gender equality

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Azerbaijan Embassy9th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and 1st Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting
  2. EFBWWEU Social Dialogue review – publication of the European Commission package and joint statement of ETUFs
  3. Oxfam InternationalPan Africa Program Progress Report 2022 - Post Covid and Beyond
  4. WWFWWF Living Planet Report
  5. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us