CHAPTER II
The Arab States and the Refugee Problem

ALTHOUGH an examination of Arab policy toward the refugee problem is not directly within the purview of this study, a few comments on Arab reactions are necessary to place some aspects of the main question in their proper context.

The few United Nations plans for resettling the refugees in Arab countries were founded upon accurate engineering and agricultural surveys; nevertheless, they often failed to take into consideration the political and social realities of the areas in which they were to be executed. When the Clapp Mission submitted its final report in 1949, it warned of such difficulties in the following words:1

The region is not ready, the projects are not ready, the people and Governments are not ready, for large-scale development of the region's basic river systems or major undeveloped land areas. To press forward on such a course is to pursue folly and frustration and thereby delay sound economic growth.

Despite the warning, wholesale adoption of large-scale development projects was encouraged by the Western powers, in the hope of ending the refugee problem speedily and effectively. What were the causes of failure?

The mere statitics2 of refugee distribution indicate their impact upon the social and political structure of the Arab world. The heaviest concentration was in Jordan, where, in June 1956, 512,000 refugees constituted over a third of the population. In the Egyptian-occupied Gaza strip, more than 200,000 were crammed into an area of 135 square miles, which is hardly more than a vast refugee camp. There they outnumbered the natives by nearly three to one. The more than 100,000 Palestinians in Lebanon increased that country's population by nearly ten per cent. Only in Syria, where there were 89,000, did they constitute no insurmountable social and economic problem.

Statistically, the refugees were better off than the majority of citizens in most of the host countries. They had access to complete health services. Incidence of sickness and death rate figures were

-19-

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Israel and the Palestine Arabs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface *
  • Chapter I - Introduction and Background 3
  • Notes 17
  • Chapter II - The Arab States and the Refugee Problem 19
  • Notes 30
  • Chapter III - Early Repatriation Attempts 33
  • Notes 56
  • Chapter IV - The Shift to an Economic Solution 58
  • Notes 70
  • Chapter V - The Failure of Repatriation Attempts 72
  • Notes 88
  • Chapter VI - Israel's Arab Minority and National Security 90
  • Notes 118
  • Chapter VII - Israel's Arab Minority and Social Integration 121
  • Notes 139
  • Chapter VIII - Israel's Initial Absentee Property Policy 141
  • Notes 164
  • Chapter IX - Absorption of Absentee Property 168
  • Notes 187
  • Chapter X - Early Problems of Compensation 192
  • Notes 201
  • Chapter XI - U.N. Progress on Problems of Compensation 203
  • Notes 219
  • Chapter XII - Blocked Accounts 222
  • Notes 237
  • Chapter XIII - Conclusions 240
  • Select Bibliography 249
  • Index 261
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