Poland ‘on the Way’ to Restoring Ties with Israel, Says New Premier

The leader of Poland’s first non-Communist government since World War II has affirmed here that Poland will re-establish diplomatic relations with Israel, though he could not say exactly when.

Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, on his first trip abroad since taking office, told a news conference last Friday that such a move was definitely expected.

“I cannot give you a precise date, but we’re on the way,” he said.

Poland severed diplomatic ties with Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War. Last year, the two countries established interest sections in Warsaw and Tel Aviv respectively, the lowest level of formal contact.

Mazowiecki said his government’s position is that the rights of Israelis and Palestinians must be respected. He pointed out that Poland has good relations with the Palestine Liberation Organization, which has an office in Warsaw.

“We are greatly interested in achieving peace in the Middle East and (having) all interested states and political forces choosing the road to a durable peace,” he said.

“I think that both Jews and Palestinians are condemned to live alongside each other (and) both sides have the right to be equally recognized,” Mazowiecki added.

WILL HELP WITH CONVENT DISPUTE

The fact that Poland is beginning to resolve deep political conflicts gives hope that progress can be achieved in solving other political conflicts, such as the Middle East, the Polish premier said.

He acknowledged, however, that the Middle East conflict is deeper and of longer standing than the one in Poland.

Mazowiecki also said his government would do whatever it could to help resolve the conflict over a Carmelite convent on the grounds of the former Auschwitz death camp in Poland.

“But naturally, this is not a government-to government question,” he said.

Nevertheless, the prime minister cited as an important step the Vatican statement signed last month by Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, president of the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism.

The statement affirmed that the nuns should be relocated in accordance with an agreement signed in 1987 by four European cardinals and world Jewish leaders.

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