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Poland closes window for Holocaust survivors to regain confiscated property

Polish parliament [Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland/Flickr]
Polish parliament [Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland/Flickr]

The Polish parliament passed a bill on Wednesday that closed the window of opportunity for Poles, including Holocaust survivors and their descendants, from regaining ownership of property expropriated during the communist era, AP and other news agencies have reported. President Andrzej Duda now has 21 days in which to sign the bill into law. He could, however, veto the proposed legislation.

Israeli and American officials condemned the move. "I condemn the Polish parliamentary legislation that was approved today, which harms the memory of the Holocaust and the rights of its victims," said Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

"We are deeply concerned that Poland's parliament passed legislation today severely restricting the process for Holocaust survivors and their families, as well as other Jewish and non-Jewish property owners, to obtain restitution for property wrongfully confiscated during Poland's communist era," said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. "We urge President Duda not to sign the bill into law or that, in line with the authority granted to him as President, to refer the bill to Poland's constitutional tribunal."

READ: Israel summons Poland's ambassador over WWII bill

The Jerusalem Post reported Gideon Taylor, the chairman of operations of the World Jewish Restitution Organisation, as saying: "We are outraged by today's vote in the Polish lower house. If this bill is signed into law by President Duda, the Polish Government will have effectively legally foreclosed the possibility for rightful owners to secure redress for what was taken from them."

Taylor pointed out that Poland is not responsible for what Nazi Germany did during the Holocaust. "However, more than 30 years after the fall of Communism, Poland still benefits from this wrongfully acquired property."

According to the Speaker of the Israeli Knesset, Mickey Levy, the law is "daylight robbery that desecrates the memory of the Holocaust. Poland's decision to pass this immoral law harms the friendship and bilateral relations with Israel."

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