Israeli prosecutors filed charges on Thursday against a man accused of spitting on Poland’s ambassador, an incident that drew strong condemnation from Warsaw and underscored tensions between the countries over anti-Semitism and Holocaust history.
The suspect, Erik Lederman, was indicted for assault and criminal threats, Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court papers showed. Police said that in Tuesday’s incident in Tel Aviv he had struck the roof of a car carrying Ambassador Marek Magierowski with his hand, then opened a door and spat twice on the envoy.
The counts carry a maximum of five years’ jail in Israel. Lederman, 65, has apologised, saying the car had honked at him and that he had not known Magierowski was inside.
Lederman said he had come to the embassy to inquire about Polish restitution for his family, which had been through the Holocaust, and had been turned away. He said an embassy employee used an anti-Semitic slur while he was there.
Magierowski has denied that any embassy staff used inappropriate behaviour or language.
Polish-Israeli relations have deteriorated in recent months over accusations that Warsaw’s nationalist PiS government has tolerated a revival of anti-Semitic behaviour, a charge it denies.
A U.S. law on the restitution of Jewish property seized during or after World War Two has stirred criticism in Warsaw, adding to tensions with Israel over Poles’ role in the Holocaust.