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Israel moves to end rift with Poland amid Ukraine fighting, sends envoy to Warsaw

Lapid says dispatch of Yacov Livne to Warsaw six months after cutting ties comes in order to ‘enhance assistance to Israeli citizens crossing the border from Ukraine to Poland’

Yacov Livne. (Foreign Ministry)
Yacov Livne. (Foreign Ministry)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Saturday ordered Yacov Livne, Israel’s designated ambassador to Poland, to go to Warsaw, as Israeli diplomatic activity in the country on Ukraine’s western border heats up after Russia’s invasion.

The decision comes six months after a diplomatic crisis between the two nations, with each recalling its ambassador, after Israel called Polish legislation limiting Holocaust restitution “immoral” and “antisemitic.”

According to the Foreign Ministry, Lapid made the decision in order to “enhance assistance to Israeli citizens crossing the border from Ukraine to Poland, and in view of the importance of events and the central role Poland is playing in them.

“Since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, the Israeli Embassy in Warsaw, headed by charge d’affaires Tal [Ben-Ari] Ya’alon, has worked in fruitful cooperation with the Polish authorities in the effort to assist Israelis leaving Ukraine, and we would like to express our gratitude to the Polish authorities for this assistance,” the Foreign Ministry statement said.

Neither the Foreign Ministry nor Lapid made any reference on Saturday to the original reasons for the rift with Poland. In November, Israel returned Ya’alon to Warsaw four months after the freeze in ties between the nations.

Livne is expected to depart for Warsaw on Sunday morning.

A Polish border guard assists refugees from Ukraine as they arrive in Poland at the Korczowa border crossing, Poland, on Saturday, February 26, 2022. (AP/Czarek Sokolowski)

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to a sharp increase in Israeli diplomatic activity in Poland, with the foreign ministry announcing Saturday that the staff of its embassy in Ukraine, already relocated from Kyiv to Lviv, would be spending their nights in Poland.

There was no immediate comment from Poland on the Israeli decision.

Poland had rejected the Israeli claims of antisemitism over the legislation, which it said would bolster legal certainty in the property market. It has yet to appoint a new ambassador to Israel since the crisis.

Poland is the only country in the European Union that has not passed comprehensive national legislation to return, or provide compensation for, private property confiscated by the Nazis or nationalized by the communist regime.

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