Israeli Delegation Goes to Poland for Reparations Talks Amid Protests

YERUSHALAYIM -
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki arrives for an informal meeting of European Union leaders in Sibiu, Romania. (Reuters/Francois Lenoir)

A delegation of Israeli officials is set to travel to Warsaw on Monday to negotiate reparations to Jews whose families lost property in Poland during the Holocaust, amid large local protests against such payments.

The Israeli Social Equality Ministry, which is leading the delegation, called the scheduling of the meetings as “an important and unprecedented political achievement.”

However, it was not clear what would come of it.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki declared last week that Poland would not agree to the reparations because the Poles were also victims of the Nazis during World War II.

Over the weekend, thousands of Polish nationalists marched on the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw to protest American pressure on Poland to compensate Jewish victims of the Holocaust. It was said to be one of the largest political demonstrations in that country in recent years.

The protests were triggered by the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (or JUST) Act. Signed into law by President Donald Trump last year, it requires the State Department to report to Congress on the state of restitution of Jewish property stolen in the Holocaust in dozens of countries.

The Polish far right claims that the U.S. has no right to interfere in their affairs, and that the scale of compensation at issue would ruin the Polish economy.

Poland is the only European Union country which has failed to pass laws regulating compensation for Holocaust victims, and the head of the WJRO, Gideon Taylor, noted that such property “continues to benefit the Polish economy.”