Jerusalem, April 5 – Israelis and Palestinians should settle their respective refugee claims in the same way Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said.
Ayalon released a new report on the issue of the 850,000 Jewish refugees and their descendants who were forcibly deported from Arab and Muslim countries in the late 1940s and early 1950s, linking compensation for their eviction with that of Palestinian refugees. The report recommends that both sides be compensated and Palestinians solve their refugee issue the way Israel did, by having the refugees become citizens of the country in which they reside.
“Today some 50 percent of Israel's (7.8 million) residents are the same (Jewish) refugees from Arab countries and their progeny, who were fully integrated and who contributed to the establishment and development of the State of Israel,” Ayalon said.
“The Palestinian refugees will be rehabilitated in their place of residence just as the Jewish refugees were rehabilitated in theirs – Israel. There should be an immediate discontinuation of the perpetuation of the Palestinian refugee issue,” the report said.
Israel is raising international awareness of the Jewish refugees and last year Ayalon submitted Israel's demands for recognizing the refugees to the United Nations. In December, Ayalon spoke with the United Nations on the issue and released a film clip giving Israel’s perspective on both Arab and Jewish refugees.
Ayalon made it clear that Israel would insist on the Palestinian refugees being integrated into the Palestinian state when it is established, just as the Jewish refugees were absorbed into Israel.
The rehabilitation process in their place of residence will minimize the demand for the ‘Right of Return’ during peace talks.
During the peace negotiations (with the Palestinians or Arab countries) the demand for financial compensation for both Palestinian and Jewish refugees should be raised.
“Just as the State of Israel absorbed the Jewish refugees, so the Arab refugees who left Mandatory Palestine should receive the same treatment, all the more in light of the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, the existence of which renders the continued existence of the Arab refugee camps unjustified,” Ayalon said.
Among its conclusions, the report recommended that “there should be a joint solution between the Arab countries and the international community in order to provide compensation for both Palestinian and Jewish refugees.”