Polish President Andrzej Duda decided to sign a controversial bill previously passed by the parliament that would restrict the property restitution process for victims of the Holocaust and their families.
Under the bill, administrative decisions can no longer be challenged in court after the expiration of a 30-year period. The US and Israel have called on Duda not to sign the law, saying it would severely “restrict the process for Holocaust survivors and their families, as well as other Jewish and non-Jewish property owners, to obtain restitution for property wrongfully confiscated during Poland’s communist era.”
“Today I made the decision regarding the bill, which in recent months has been the subject of lively and loud debate at home and abroad. After careful analysis, I decided to sign the amendments to the Administrative Code adopted by the Sejm [lower house] and the Senate,” Duda said.
He noted that he believed that the bill will put an end to “the era of legal chaos” and “reprivatization mafias,” and will protect the rights of the Polish citizens.
At the same time, the Polish president denied accusations that the law specifically targeted property rights of the Jews.
“We will never tire of reminding the world that every second victim of the Holocaust was a Polish citizen and that our government in exile did more to resist those deaths, more than any other,” he said.
Duda also stressed that Poland honors the memory of the victims and pledged that it will not allow “the instrumentalization of the mass extermination for current political purposes.” He further noted that 30 years was enough to settle most property claims.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett condemned the restitution law signed by Duda and called it shameful, according to a statement released later in the day by his office.