Israeli student trip to Poland canceled due to diplomatic rift

Thousands of Israeli high school students who were to travel to Poland this summer on trips to trace their history will be deprived of this opportunity due to a diplomatic dispute with Warsaw over the security of the delegations, the ministry announced on Tuesday.

“It has been decided that the youth delegations to Poland should be frozen,” read a circular from the Ministry of Education addressed to the approximately 7,000 students involved in these trips.

According to information published by the Walla website, the Polish government unexpectedly refused to allow Shin Bet agents responsible for travel security to carry their weapons on Polish territory this year, leading to the Ministry of Education canceling the trip.

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The Foreign Ministry said that negotiations were underway with the Polish government and that Poland wanted “Israeli student travel to continue”, adding that the Israeli side was doing what is necessary to allow the delegations to resume.

The Polish authorities did not comment.

Parents who have already paid for the trip will be reimbursed, the ministry said according to Channel 12 to the National Parent Council. However, to the extent that the schools have booked the trips with various airlines and agencies, the full refund of the amounts is not guaranteed in all cases.

One parent expressed disappointment at the cancellation of the trip and felt that the state left them to fend for themselves with the airlines.

Visitors to what was the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz after the annual March of the Living, in Oswiecim, Poland, April 28, 2022. (Czarek Sokolowski / AP)

“They let the parents make sure to collect the registration fees and the payments made to the companies [aériennes] told a disgruntled parent to Channel 12.

An earlier dispute over the Polish government’s desire to change the educational content of the trip had been resolved jointly, sources familiar with the matter told Walla without further details.

Before the pandemic, thousands of Israeli students traveled to Poland each year to learn about the Holocaust, visit iconic sites in European Jewish history, and make pilgrimages to former Nazi camps.

In August last year, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski threatened to cancel the trip due to a diplomatic quarrel between Poland and Israel triggered by a Polish law that drastically limited claims for damages related to the time of World War II.

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