Before the Holocaust there were three and a half million Jews living in Poland, and there was a loss of property estimated to be worth 30 to 40 billion dollars. Unlike Germany, Austria, and France which have arranged for the restoration of stolen Jewish property to their heirs, Poland has not done this.
Minister Rafi Eitan wants to involve the Israeli government in negotiating with Poland and other Eastern Europe countries for restitution of Jewish property.
The Foreign Ministry does not want the government to be involved, fearing it might cause difficulties with relations between Israel and these countries. Eitan believes that the Polish government would accept negotiations with the Israeli government. He wants a detailed survey of Jewish property in Poland and then form a corporation to deal with the claims. This corporation would be owned by the government and the Claims Conference and would handle the claims efficiently while protecting the heirs from fraud.
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