Polish and Israel FMs Sign Deal; Envoy to Return to Tel Aviv

On Wednesday, Poland and Israel took a big step towards putting an end to a multi-faceted diplomatic crisis.

The foreign ministers of the two countries signed a deal that would immediately allow the Holocaust trips of Israel youth to Poland to resume.

Furthermore, Poland also agreed to send its ambassador to Israel once more, which is a first since July 2021.

The agreement

Eli Cohen, the Israeli Foreign Minister, signed the deal with Zbigniew Rau, his Polish counterpart, in Warsaw.

After the meeting of the two diplomats, a statement from the Foreign Ministry said that the crisis was over. However, no details were provided about the terms of the agreement.

According to a ministry official, the content of the agreement will only be disclosed after it has been approved by the Knesset.

The development was praised by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and he said that he was sure that the deal would leave to closer cooperation between Israel and Poland.

It had been several years that the two countries had been embroiled in conflict pertaining to the Holocaust trips.

Previously, the Foreign Ministry had asserted that the government of Poland was trying to control the curriculum of Holocaust studies, which is taught to Israeli youth.

The people

Last Thursday, Ronen Levi, the Director General of the Foreign Ministry, had led the delegation that had flown to Warsaw for meeting their Polish counterparts to finalize the agreement.

Officials from the education and foreign ministries had been part of the group, along with those from the security agency Shin Bet.

This is because the disagreements had also been related to the security arrangements for visitors from Israel.

The news of the agreement had first come in the beginning of the month. The premier had said that while there were different ways to learn the lessons of the Holocaust, but the best was to see for yourself.

The spat

Since July 2021, there had also been a diplomatic spat between the two countries because a law had been passed by the legislature in Poland.

According to the said law, there would no longer be any restitution to the heirs of the property that had been seized during the Holocaust by the Nazis.

The following month, Israel had recalled its envoy for consultations. Yair Lapid, who had been foreign minister back then, had instructed Ya’acov Livne, the Israeli ambassador to Poland, to stay in Israel.

He had also told Poland’s ambassador to Israel to go to his homeland for vacation. While the law was not rescinded, the two nations have been working of deescalating the tensions since then.

In February 2022, Livne had taken up his post in Warsaw for coordinating the efforts of Israel in extracting its citizens from Ukraine and for providing Kyiv aid.

In June, two Polish lawmakers had also visited the Knesset and this was a first since 2017. In July, President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, had promised to return its envoy to Israel, but it is yet to happen.

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