Israel, Poland sign deal to restart youth trips, mark end to 2-year diplomatic crisis

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (left) and Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau in Warsaw on March 22, 2023. (Screenshot)
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (left) and Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau in Warsaw on March 22, 2023. (Screenshot)

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen signs an agreement with his Polish counterpart Zbigniew Rau to immediately allow for the resumption of Israeli youth Holocaust trips to the country after they had been suspended for several years. The two diplomats also agree on the return of a Polish ambassador to Israel, for the first time since July 2021.

The Foreign Ministry puts out a statement declaring “the crisis is over.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praises the development, saying “I am sure that it will lead to even closer cooperation between the two countries.”

The two erstwhile allies have been in a diplomatic spat since July 2021, when Poland’s legislature passed a law effectively cutting off any future restitution to the heirs of property seized by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

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

Speaking in English after their meeting in Warsaw, Cohen says that he “came here to restore the relationship between our countries.”

“I am convinced that Israel and Poland share not only a rich history but also a common future, and it is our responsibility to build it together,” he says.

He turns to the Iranian threat, saying Tehran destabilizes and endangers Europe.

“A clear and firm voice, combining international collaboration with a decisive message to Iran, is essential,” says Cohen.

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