CHAPTER III
Early Repatriation Attempts

THE QUESTION of repatriation to Israel or resettlement in Arab countries of the refugees who fled from Israel during the Palestine war, is inextricably woven into the intricate fabric of the Palestine problem. Until now it has defeated all endeavors to find a peaceful solution. Repatriation of refugees who desire to return to their homes has consistently been an a priori condition of Arab agreement to discuss peace with Israel. Israel's position has been the opposite: a refusal even to discuss repatriation until the Arab states are ready to conclude peace treaties.

The Arab states have steadfastly maintained that those refugees who desire to be repatriated must be permitted to return. In 1948 Israel had no fixed position concerning an Arab return. Since then, a policy categorically rejecting repatriation and viewing resettlement in Arab countries as the only answer to the refugee problem has evolved.

The inflexible Israeli and Arab postures assumed on repatriation have acquired such significance that their change through compromise would be tantamount to a weakening of political strategy. United Nations attempts to find a political solution to the refugee problem were undermined and the extreme sensitiveness of the issue retarded efforts to work out practical measures of assistance to integrate the refugees into the Middle East.

The repatriation question was raised on numerous occasions, since the refugee problem became an international concern. When concessions vis-à-vis the Arab world were demanded from Israel, the repatriation issue was often interjected. Despite the variations in Israel's response, only a nominal number of Arabs returned. Even these owed their repatriation less to international pressure than to the Israel Government's reaction to internal political maneuvers among the several parties contesting for the vote of the Arab minority.

Here we begin to trace the development of Israel's policy and attitudes towards the return of the refugees to their former homes. We examine the factors in which there has been unchanging unanimity of public opinion, both among government supporters and

-33-

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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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