Polish PM Says Family of Envoy to Israel Threatened as Diplomatic Spat Deepens

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Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki arrives for an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, in June.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki arrives for an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, in June.Credit: Olivier Matthys,AP

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Sunday that he had decided to "safely bring back home the children of Poland's ambassador to Israel," citing concerns of "growing hatred towards Poland and Polish citizens in Israel" in light of the developing diplomatic crisis between both countries.   

Morawiecki even implied that the ambassador's family is feeling threatened in light of the deteriorating relations between Poland and Israel. 

This comes after Polish President Andrzej Duda approved on Saturday a controversial law that will restrict the possibility of restitution claims for property stolen from Jews by the Nazis during World War II and nationalized by the postwar communist regime. In response, Israel indefinitely recalled its top diplomat in Poland.

Morawiecki said that Israel's decision is "baseless and irresponsible," and that it is Poland's duty to ensure the safety of its ambassador and his family, according to Poland's state television station TVP Info.

Morawiecki told the television station, "Those who know the truth about the Holocaust and about the suffering of Poland during World War II cannot agree with this kind of political management." He said that Israel is "irresponsibly" using the Holocaust for its political and partisan agenda.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in response that "The negative influence on our relationship started the moment that Poland chose, in 2018, to begin passing laws intended to damage the memory of the Holocaust and the Jewish people."

He continued, "The days of Poles harming Jews without consequence have passed and will not return. Jews today have a proud and strong state of their own. We are not afraid of antisemitic threats, and we have no intention of flinching in the face of the Polish government's despicable and anti-democratic behavior."

Israel and the United States have expressed stark opposition to the legislation, which has strained ties between Jerusalem and Warsaw.

After the law's passage on Saturday, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that Poland passed "an antisemitic and immoral law," and that he has instructed Israel's chargé d'affaires in Warsaw, Tal Ben-Ari Yaalon, to return immediately to Israel for consultations for "an indefinite period of time." He added that Israel's new ambassador to Poland, who has yet to depart, will not be going.

He added that "the Foreign Ministry recommends that the Polish ambassador to Israel prolong his vacation in his country," saying that the Polish ambassador to Israel should use his time in Poland to "explain to the Polish people what the Holocaust means to the citizens of Israel and how we will not tolerate contempt for the memory of the victims and the memory of the Holocaust."

The Polish Foreign Ministry said in response that Israel's decision is "severely damaging our relations. We will take appropriate diplomatic and political action, taking into account the principle of reciprocity."

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