On the one hand, Israel did not see the release of the Arab blocked accounts as an obligation. It tended to connect it with the whole Palestine problem. In view of the Arab refusal to negotiate directly a general peace settlement, Israel considered the release as a concession. It did not view the accounts as a debt to the refugees, because the problem was taken out of the total context of all refugee and Palestine issues. After it had released the first installment, the Israeli Government expected some quid pro quo from the Arab states before completing the release process.

The Arabs, on the contrary, did not regard the release as a concession, but rather as a final implementation of the refugees' natural rights. They regarded Israel's move as a tactic to withhold the remaining three quarters of the funds. In Arab eyes, Israel's "concession" was not at all related to a general settlement of the Palestine problem. Because the United Nations did succeed in obtaining some small part of "what was due the refugees," the Arabs saw no reason to regard this as a step toward peace, nor would they permit such a "concession" to be used to strengthen Israel's political position. The Arab attitude toward the application forms for release of blocked accounts was characteristic of their suspicion of Israel's motives. The forms reinforced the Arab fear that one of their purposes had been to secure de facto recognition of Israel's sovereignty and authority over Arab property, which they were not prepared to grant. In general, the Arabs tended to isolate such problems from the total context of the Palestine situation and to insist that they were in no way related to a peace settlement.

In view of these sharp differences, it would seem that the CCP greatly exaggerated the psychological importance of the release plan. Its belief that this measure would "advance peaceful relations between Israel and the Arab countries" seems unjustified. Nor does its estimate of the value of the accounts to be released as "a practical contribution towards the alleviation of the lot of the Arab refugees" appear to be grounded upon fact. The figures presented at the beginning of this chapter clearly underscore the relative insignificance of these funds as a contribution to bettering the refugees' living conditions.


NOTES
1
Interviews with officials of the Office of the Custodian of Absentee Property.
2
To cite from paragraph 5(a) of the Emergency Regulations Concerning Absentee Property, issued by the Minister of Finance, Dec. 2, 1948: "Every property of an absentee is hereby vested in the Custodian from the date of publication of his appointment under these Regulations and every right which an absentee had in his

-237-

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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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