U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that the United States is “deeply concerned” by legislation passed by the Polish parliament earlier in the day barring Holocaust survivors and their descendants from reclaiming property seized by the country’s communist regime.
Blinken called on Polish President Andrzej Duda not to sign the bill into law, or to refer it to Poland’s constitutional tribunal.
“A comprehensive law for resolving confiscated property claims is needed to provide some measure of justice for victims. Such a law would benefit many Polish citizens, as well as people who were forced to leave Poland during and after World War II and who subsequently became naturalized citizens of other countries,” said Blinken.
“Until such a law is enacted, the pathway to compensation should not be closed for new claims or those pending decisions in administrative courts,” he added.
The Polish legislation states that administrative decisions can’t be legally challenged after a 30-year period, effectively preventing Jews (and non-Jews) from reclaiming property confiscated by the communist-led Polish People’s Republic (1947-1989).
Gideon Taylor, chairman of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, also called on Duda to veto the bill, AP reported. He said that the WJRO was “outraged” by the passing of the legislation, and urged Poland to work “once and for all to settle the issue of private property restitution.”
In response to the move by the Polish parliament, Israeli Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy decided not to re-establish the Israeli-Polish parliamentary friendship group.
“The anti-restitution law restricting property claims by victims of the Holocaust is a daylight robbery that desecrates the memory of the Holocaust,” said Levy, according to a statement from his office.
“Poland’s decision to pass this immoral law harms the friendship and bilateral relations between Israel and Poland. Consequently, there is no place to re-establish the parliamentary friendship group between the Israeli Knesset and the Polish Sejm and senate, which regularly holds various activities to strengthen ties between the countries,” said Levy.
“I urge the president of the Republic of Poland, H.E Andrzej Duda, to veto this wrongful law,” he added.