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Poland Confirms Plans to Resume Relations with Israel Next Week

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Poland will formally re-establish diplomatic relations with Israel on Feb. 27, officials of the Solidarity-led government confirmed Monday in Warsaw.

Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Arens will arrive in the Polish capital on Feb. 26, to take part in the official ceremony the following day.

A delegation of World Jewish Congress leaders received confirmation of the plans Monday, in meetings with Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Foreign Minister Krysztof Skubiszewski.

Details of the meeting were reported by Elan Steinberg, executive director of the WJC, who spoke in a telephone interview from Warsaw, where he arrived Sunday night.

The WJC group, which also includes its secretary-general, Israel Singer, and a vice president, Kalman Sultanik, is holding three days of talks with government leaders and leaders of the small Jewish community of Poland.

POLISH JEWS ALLOWED TO RETURN

Steinberg said the Jewish representatives, including Rabbi Menachem Joskowicz and Yiddish Theater director Szimon Szurmiej, spoke of heightened incidents of anti-Semitism in Poland. They mentioned, for instance, catcalls at a recent Poland-Israel basketball match in the city of Poznan, calling for “Jews to Auschwitz” and “Jews to Treblinka.”

Mazowiecki told the WJC leaders that “the government would act in a firm and resolute manner to suppress such expressions” of anti-Semitism, said Steinberg.

Skubiszewski, speaking Monday at the Foreign Ministry during an official luncheon for the WJC delegation, also “pointed out that this government has nothing to do with the anti-Semitic campaign of the past, and particularly that undertaken in the 1960s,” said Steinberg.

Moreover, the foreign minister officially informed the WJC group that any Jews who gave up their Polish citizenship as a result of the anti-Semitic government purges and anti-Jewish climate of the late 1960s “can automatically reclaim their Polish citizenship,” said Steinberg. Those who choose to do so could hold dual citizenship, the WJC was told.

“The practical effect” of the announcement is that “those who so choose can claim property that was lost as a result,” Steinberg said.

The WJC group plans to meet on Tuesday with Solidarity leader Lech Walesa and later to visit Auschwitz.

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