Israel condemned the approval by Poland of a law restricting the rights of Holocaust survivors and their descendants to claim property seized under the former communist regime. It also announced that it would recall its top diplomat in protest.

This move sparked a diplomatic crisis between Israel’s new government, and the conservative nationalist government in Poland. Israel’s new government has taken a more confrontational approach after years of close relations under the former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The law was signed earlier by Andrzej Duda, the Polish president. It addresses the appropriations made by the communist government in Poland between 1989 and the end of World War II.

This law does not mention the Holocaust or World War II. It states that no administrative decision made 30 years or more ago can be challenged. This means that property owners who lost their homes or businesses to communism can no longer receive compensation.

It is likely to end all hope for some families, both Jewish and not, of reclaiming the property that was taken during that time.

Both the U.S. government and the Israeli government had strongly advised Poland to not pass the law, and Israel warned that it could harm relations.

Naftali Bennett, Israeli Prime Minister, called Duda’s signing of this law “a shameful decision” and “disgraceful contempt for Holocaust memory” and stated that “Poland has chosen not to stop hurting those who have lost all.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lepid stated that he had ordered Israel’s charges d’affaires in Warsaw to immediately return home and that the new Israeli Ambassador to Poland, who was due to depart for Warsaw, would remain in Israel.

The Israel Foreign Ministry stated that it also recommended that the Polish ambassador who is currently on vacation in Israel, not return to Israel.

“Poland approved today — not for the very first time — an anti-Semitic, immoral law,” stated Lapid, whose father was a Holocaust survivor.

Benny Gantz Defense Minister, noting that his father was a Holocaust survivor, stated that he was deeply disturbed.

Gantz stated that property restitution was a small but important part of the process to honor the rights of survivors and to recognize those who perished in the worst genocides of all time.

Duda stated Saturday that he carefully considered the matter and decided to sign it to end any legal uncertainty or fraud related to property whose ownership is still in question decades later.

Duda stated that he strongly objects to any suggestion that the law is directed against Jews who survived Holocaust.

Duda stated, “I categorically reject this rhetoric” “Linking this act to the Holocaust raises my firm objection.”

Poland had a population of almost 3.5 million Jews before World War II. Many were killed during the Holocaust, and their property was confiscated by Nazis.

Some of the few Polish Jews who survived were subject to violence and persecution by Polish authorities after the war. This drove many to flee to the United States and Israel. Israel was established as a refuge for Jews following the Holocaust, and is now home to thousands of Holocaust survivors.

Many of these properties were seized by the post-war communist authorities of Poland, as well as many other property owned in Warsaw and elsewhere by non-Jewish people.

It was possible for claimants to seek restitution of family property after the fall of communism in 1989. While some cases were resolved by courts, Poland has not yet passed a comprehensive law to regulate the compensation or restitution of seized property.

To make matters worse, criminal groups have in the past claimed to be rightful owners and obtained valuable properties through fraud. Then they evicted tenants from the properties.

“I am certain that my signature will end the era legal chaos — the era re-privatization mafias as well as the uncertainty of millions and lack of respect for basic rights of citizens in our country. Duda stated that he believes in a state that protects its citizens from injustice.

The legislation was supported by all political parties in Poland.

In 2018, Warsaw introduced a law which many Israelis viewed as an attempt suppressing discussion about the crimes committed by Poles against Jews under German occupation. Although the law was eventually repealed, it has never been implemented.