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Israeli ambassador reinstated in Poland a year after bitter diplomatic spat

‘Time to return to normal relations’: Polish president says envoy to Jerusalem will be dispatched in coming days, after countries locked horns over Holocaust legislation

Israeli Ambassador to Poland Yacov Livne pays his respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw on July 12, 2022. (Courtesy)
Israeli Ambassador to Poland Yacov Livne pays his respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw on July 12, 2022. (Courtesy)

Israeli Ambassador to Poland Yacov Livne submitted his credentials to Polish President Andrzej Duda on Tuesday, close to a year after the countries downgraded their ties amid a diplomatic spat.

President Isaac Herzog thanked Duda for receiving Ambassador Yacov Livne’s credentials, calling it “an important first step to advancing Israeli-Polish relations. I hope to receive the letters of credence of the new Polish ambassador in Israel soon.”

Duda told Herzog in a phone call last week that Poland will send its ambassador-designate to present his letter of credence in the coming days, in the strongest indication yet that the two countries are moving beyond their bitter row. The Polish president said Tuesday that he and Herzog “agreed that it was time to return to normal relations.”

The two allies have been locking horns since last year over Holocaust legislation in Poland, and dueling narratives over the Polish role as both a victim of the Nazi regime and a collaborator in the Nazis’ mass murder of Jews have been a source of tension between Israel and Poland in recent years.

In July 2021, Poland’s legislature passed a law effectively cutting off any future restitution to the heirs of property seized by the Nazis during the Holocaust. In response to the legislation, signed into law by Duda, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called it “antisemitic and immoral.”

Israel recalled its envoy to Warsaw for consultations the following month and Lapid advised Poland’s ambassador to Israel to remain on vacation in his homeland.

But following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Livne took up his post in Warsaw in February to coordinate Israeli efforts to extract citizens from Ukraine and to provide aid to Kyiv. Two Polish lawmakers visited the Knesset in June, the first to do so since 2017.

Disagreements remain, however. Last month, Israel canceled educational trips to Poland for thousands of high school students this summer, charging the Polish government is trying to control the Holocaust studies curriculum taught to Israeli children.

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