Israeli Confers with Polish Officials on Auschwitz Convent, Bilateral Issues

Israel’s minister for religious affairs, Zevulun Hammer, met this week with his Polish counterpart in Warsaw and with leaders of the Polish parliament.

But it is not yet known if he made any headway toward resolving the bitter controversy over the Carmelite convent on the grounds of the former Auschwitz death camp.

Hammer also discussed the issue with Cardinal Franciszek Macharski, the archbishop of Krakow, who has jurisdiction over the convent.

Macharski, though signatory to an agreement pledging that the convent would be relocated, now opposes moving it from the present site.

Israel is awaiting details of Hammer’s talks with the cardinal and with the bishop of Warsaw on the subject.

Hammer visited the Sejm, the Polish parliament, Monday at the invitation of its speaker, Nikolaj Kozakiewicz, who represents the United Peasants Alliance.

He met with two senior members of Solidarity who are deputy chairmen of the parliament.

Hammer is the first Israeli minister to visit Poland since diplomatic relations were broken by Warsaw in 1967.

He signed an agreement Tuesday with the Polish minister of religions, Wladyslaw Loranc, to establish a joint Polish-Israeli fund for the restoration and preservation of historic Jewish sites in Poland.

Hammer and his entourage visited the Warsaw Ghetto on Sunday and placed a wreath in Israel’s name at a monument commemorating the ghetto fighters.

They attended a memorial ceremony at the Umschlagplatz, the square where Jews were herded to be transported to extermination camps.

Hammer also visited Warsaw’s Great Synagogue, where he got an emotional welcome.

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