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Poland’s president signed property restitution amendments

Wojciech Olkuśnik/PAP

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda told PAP on Saturday that he signed into law a set of amendments to administrative laws. The key change says that after 30 years of an administrative decision – applying among others to properties – it will be impossible to contest it.

“I have made my decision concerning this law, which has been the subject of a lively and loud debate at home and abroad in recent months. After an in-depth analysis I have decided to sign… the amendments to the administrative code,” Duda told PAP.

He explained that the new regulations aimed to protect current property owners from unexpected disownment due to restitution claims. “This will put an end to the insecurity felt when a flat or property bought in good faith can be taken away on the strength of a simple administrative decision,” Duda said.

He added that the laws were also aimed to curb corruption in restitution cases, and refuted accusations that it was specifically aimed against Jewish restitution claimants.

Duda’s stance was backed by his aide Jakub Kumoch, who said that president’s signature “put an end to the insecurity and endangerment felt by thousands of tenants” and marked “an important moment in the lives of many Polish families.”

Referring to Israel’s accusations that the new restitution laws were aimed against Holocaust victims, Kumoch said Poland will not consent to the “instrumentalisation of the Holocaust,” and stressed that the whole issue “was not about the Holocaust at all.”

He added that Poland was a friend of Israel and “one of the few countries where Jews were safe.”

Israel’s foreign minister Yair Lapid wrote on Saturday on Twitter : “Poland today approved for the first time an anti-Semitic and immoral law. Tonight I will instruct the charge d’affaires of our embassy in Warsaw to return to Israel immediately for indefinite consultations.”

He added that he will instruct Marek Magierowski, the Polish ambassador to Israel, to continue his vacation in Poland so he can explain to Poles that Israel “will not tolerate contempt for the memory of the victims and the memory of the Holocaust.”

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