Polish bank in Israel gives a taste of the `old country'

A Polish bank run from Warsaw is still operating quietly in Tel Aviv's business district 17 years after Israel and Poland broke off diplomatic relations. Polska Kasa Opievi (PKO) does not offer its 2,000 Israeli clients bank cards or cash-dispensing machines. Its gray stone exterior and equally drab interior have none of the chrome glitter of Israeli banks.

The commercial bank, founded in Poland in 1929, gives Polish-speaking customers a taste of the old country in the Middle East.

They can cash their checks at the ``kasa,'' or cashier, and purchase shares on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange at the ``papiery wartosciowe'' counter.

Aside from the Romanian Embassy and airline, PKO is the only nonreligious Eastern European foothold in Israel.

PKO maintains only two other overseas branches, in Paris and Buenos Aires.

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