B A C K G R 0 U N D
The M'ideast Refugee Issue-
A. A Procedure for the Solution of
the Arab Refugee Prbbl.em i 1
B.. An Analysis of the Role of UNR.iA 1
C, The Dim.iension of the Refugee
Problem, 1S 8 2
D. Policy Regarding Persons Displaced
by 1967 Hostilities 6
T.. .....3 .ST. O ISRAEL
r ,shi. to, .'
November 23, (Iq
PO LI CY
1, In his statc,-ment to the U. Go-' c:i.'r. Assemi! ...y on OcLober 8, 10,
the I;rael foreign linistor, ,'r. ..b:.' i, ":-i.e outl.ini ng a nine-point p.'ce
p-o.r;:.:, referred to the :Arab refuge prob . e proposed a procedures or
its solution in these terms:
One: A conference of Ci;j.idd'e teasLc3. States should be convened;
together with the Govern:n,:;nts contributing to rcfugole relief a.nd the
specialized agencies of i;he United Nations, in order to chart a five-
year plan for the solution.of the refugee problem in the framework of
a lasting peace and the integration of refugees into productive life,
.This conference can be called in .advance of peace negotiations.
"Two: Under .the peace settleoh, joint refugee integration and
Sarehabilitation commissions should be established by the signatories
in order t6 approve agreed projects for refugee integration in the
M. middle ;ast, with regional and international aid."
2.-The Isrrol plan contemplates that a refugee program would include a
..cintegration and Compensation Fund, which would provide the financial means
ior land settlement, economic self--support, training, migration and compen--
sztion for abandoned property. Israel has affirmed its willingness to give
prompt and substantial financial support to such a Fund.
3. "'.Within such a constructive and comprehensive plan, Israel will be
ready to make available whatever resources it carn, including all the exten-
sive skills and experience in settlement and develop;i.ent it has gained in
its own nation-building, as well as in its- program of economic and technical
cooperation with over si:xty other developing lands. In the Israel view, the
practical aspects of the solution of the refugee question should not be un--
duly formidable once the political roadblocks have been removed.
B. LYSIS.O'O TH: I ROL OF UNRV!A
Israel elievesthat ',-
1. Israel believes that pending an overall solution, the United Nations
Relief and 1Vorks Agency has to continue its operations. Any'sudden and
.drastic change in its present act ivities, unaccompanied by a broad program
for permanent integration, would only causa fresh hardship and instability.
Israel, therefore, supports a reasona:lc extension of the A.gency's mandate,
r.nd will. continue to extend full cooperation to the --gency-in Israel-held
ar 'a LS.
2. UNI. 's Pur poses -Unfufilled: C Israc.el has, on occasion, e::pr':ssed
rese:Crvations concerning he Work c U.:'.'.. Those sto;i largely fro,., thce
cno~;t::-. L: hat thoso w-'o h;v.e .d i.ct:i;., C ai...' c.:ic cft. o n bo-:': "..;.
.4.OS -r .,
-:.::"v:-'e obe tt;uc iv political a...'-i. .L: :t": of ":c'. nost. Ar.b Covcr ia oi:Cu: .,-, .... .
1.c:. of firm and precise d:irct:v -s o...'- tle U.N. Central'. Assembly
U.n A itself became a political ':*: oner of the unresolved Israel-A.rab
lic and lost orii u It is aost forotten that U
Lt z. C .1.
vas created nearly Lwonty ycrs ago to .c::ry out a crash p-rog .ram Ior the
economyic ilnte"ratt ion of the ref' ues.
3 UNRV!A Conceived as an :ns:trumcnt of Rehabilitatioin: Unite Nations
policy was, from the outset, aimed at "a .solution by rehabilitation of the
In 1949, the Palestine Conciliation Co:miission (set up by the U.N. Reso-
lution 194 calling, inter alia, for a final negotiated settlement of all
SIsrael -Arab issues) sent an ,conomic.:Survey iuission to the MVidcdle ,ast --
the Clapp liission. The General Asserjbly approved its program of public
works and projects for "the reintegration of the refugees into the economic
life of the Hear East." *. $200 million ehabilitat ion Fund 'was voted to
finance; this program. UNRV '. was created as; an instrument for carrying it
out. relief was to be temporary and incidental to the main constructive
4" Because of Arab political resistance, all integration and rehabili-
taction projects were abandoned man y years ago, and the word "Wor.s"' in
UA-iR'sA's title ceased to have any nmean:ng. UNR~Y. became an anomaly -- a per-
manent relief agency for a self-.perpetu tL.ng refugee problem.
5. The question is not whether the international community should help
needy or uprooted people, on humanitarian grounds. It is whether the help
over a long period should concentrate on promoting their rehabilitation or
Iaepingr them on relief. After twenty years, the time has come to take a
fresh look at the problem and prepare theway for a constructive settlement,
in the 'framework of peace and regional and international cooperation.
.C THEi,. D IJ,., ,O C" TH.' '; 'F' G PiO"L"'i, 19GS
1. To measure the true nature ancd cime-ns.ion of the refugee prob!cm in
the iiddl e ast, account has to be ta:r.sn ,of two facets which have an i.por-
L.an-' b.ar.lng'1. upoin the p' inning o, a0: ju'-t a.nd Loffc ivo sol ution O "ne: t .
d-, f ,c0o EA-r b- o,- . i tf ;c. c ( l.i." ; ;. " c. .I . '..
2. Tw;o-'ay ii.ration: The Si9. v.a: did not wipe Israel out a.i birth, ".
it \ as meant to do. Vhat it did v.as to pr cipi tatc a two-way 1ig:t
',iore thlanl halfx--a,-mJ.illion Arabs imovcd from the areas under Israel control
i.nto aodjacentC Ar:ab a.reas. The displaced Jews from the Old City of Je'ru.-sl':.
and a number of Jewish villages occupied by Arab forces 'were taken into
Israeol. After the war, a movejokent took place into Israel of about half-a-
million Jews uprooted in the Arab countries. Viith natural increase., the
families that came into Israel as refugees from the Arab countries number
today about 900,000 souls. A vast amount of their property was confiscated
in the countries they had left; no offer was ever made to pay compensation
for it. Only small remna-nts of the ancient Jewish communities remain in the
..rab countries of the Middle East; they are repressed, and not allowed to
leave. The following table shows the extent of. the Jewish refugee flight
irom M'iddle easternn countries only; it does not include the mass exodus of
Jews from the other Arab League States.
JEWIS-H POPULATIONS IK NJi:D..ST AR1AB COUNTRIES
Pre.- 940 ,iay 1967
Iraq 120,000 2,500
S Egypt 80,000 2,500
Syrit 30,000 ,000
Lebanon 6,000 6,000
Eibya 35,000 4,000
SAden 9,000 138
TOTAL 350,000 19.:.133
3. What took place at that time, therefore, was an unplanned and spon-
taneous population exchange, corresponding to what has happened in other
regions. In times of war and stress, groups that feel insecure tend to mjove
into areas where they have an affinity with the local population, based on
race, religion, language or culture. Historically, these migrations 'have
not been put into reverse -- least of all, as in the present case, v here the
mnovc;r,..nt took pIace in both directions;, and the var initiated by the rabs
was not followed by peace. For twenty years, Israel and its Arab neighbors
have fac:d each other across military -riontiers -- first armistice
and nov. cense-fire lines:. On both s' -..., those lincs, the Cdispl ace g.c...
ha' ..i t do A.n 0:Zxc ro ].h :o ; l :..:..*: o.':. -' ,
<.. Joish I l fuIes vC. '.rZS ca:V i,) : 1 .-C .: . ..*'O. oil: There ..as, ho v.e(C a
sharp. coinrast in the handling of tIa t,.o refugees groups. The United atic
never bcame seized by the problem0. of Jews dis placed from1 the A.rab countric:.,
k..ost of them were resettled inl Israel and absorbed into the life and economy
Soi the- country.. That required a s'.aggering national effort and. financial
burden, willingly borne by the people of Israel, with material help from
their Jev/ish brethren elsewhere in the free. world. No comparable effort v-;a
made by the Arab world to absorb their' ovwn displaced kinsmen.
5. On the contrary, the official Arab position hardened. The refugees
.v.'-e cast in the role of a 'poli-tical and military spearhead in a continuing
ruggle against Israel. They were preyed upon by professional .agitators;
the.children were brainwashed in the schools; and thousands of young men
w:ere arnmed and trained while remaining wards of UZ1w'.,.. The refugees were
aught-that the only solution to their problem lay in the dissolution of.
1 .:'el. The concept was scornfully rejected that this was a humanitarian
problem, to be settled on economic lines.
3. Official Statistics Inflated: .iore and more.of the -rab refugees be-
came spontaneously absorbed .in the host countries or elsewhere in the rab
v:.>rld. But this vital fact was hot reflected in the statistics. L.ter being
i;:lated froni the beginning, the official total swelled each year, and with
i. the .gap be'tweeii myth and reality.
Ui,,-HV.'s v/orl:ing rule came, in effect, to'be: "Once a refugee, always a
" -"ugee." 3ven those persons who became self-supporting and no longer
n.-oded or received the agency'ss help reind regaid ristered with it, and could
c<:..o back on -relief at a future time. Leanwhile, they were included in its
r-,.ugee totals. (In. Annex .1 of the UI.:/. Coraissioner General's latest re-
port, the figure for such "1" category refugees is given at 121,939.) ?ur-
S:iorriore, UNV.'/. has come to assume in practice that the status of .refigee is
h.z'lcd down from; the original displacedd persons to their children and their
chilcdr n's children. It 's a fic tio'i c impression that there are one-and-
a-c-third million A.rab refugees e::ing out a precarious existence on inter-
n;tional charity. The real picture is loss bleak.
"/ 7' .a'sons for ...r. ,ancy: '""o "or" ..a .;u; of neo.y' re-fu- eces actu:a -
o;.i i.g" in the area, is co sid:.'ab. o.'. *;-. .- e ;istcered to :.. 1, :.L
".'r i !s .-ot.
iin the 193 '7 "-port, tho Co;:,.i::"i -.Vo C-one; 'al admitted "that J'. /. p.-
lisec' .C statistics do not adequa.tel.y, reflect tihe e;:tcnt of refugOee rohabiili-
.tation, This discrepancy may be accoun-.i;d for, in part, by the .'.r;ab Goveo.'r.-
niont;... refusal to cooperate, by census, or. otherwise, in the attempts to ai-
.certain the true figure of bona--i',.de refu; es; by the fact.that Ul":T'i.'s
staff consists of a hundred-odd "'intcrnat-ional" employees and 11,000 local
..rab efuge.es; and by the fact that a refugee card has become a political,
emotional and even commercial vested inte; est. Whatever the reasons, the
result has been that an exaggerated and unduly gloomy picture of the refugee
problem has been projected outwards, and has been exploited for propaganda
. Economic absorption: Tihere has also been substantial economic absor.-,
.'ion. In most areas, refugee levels of employment and family income are at
or close to those -of the non-refug,-e population.
Four years ago, the Commissioner General report-ed to the U.iT. General
..ssembly. that destitute and nearly-destitut e refugees might constitute some
40 to 50 per cent of the registered total, and that the rest ver-e either
economically independent or partially self-supporting.
Two years ago, the Governor General, Dr. ~iicholmore, stated .that -
"with thoepassage of time and changes in the economic circum-
stances, the rations have become for many of the recipients -: modest
economic subvention from the international community, to assist them
in their struggle to support -themselves and improve their economic
conditions. ..The Commissioner Gcneral believes it would be mislead-
ing to attach undue importance to the number of ration recipients
as an inde;: of the dependence. or independence of the refugee on in-
'In last year's report the Commissioner General- developed the theme th-at
for some years prior to the June war, there had been a steady rise in the
economic and social conditions of the refugees. -le attributed the progress
in rehabilitation to economic development in the Arab countries, the capaci-
ties of the refugees themselves, and the education and 'taiinng which ycung
refugees had received. :Ie described c'. th economic aid supplied by U'N'".. as
subsidiar-y to the. principal factors at worei:.
D. Observations in Israel-held area:; tend to bear out this description,
:.cson:..ch among the refugees show-ed that the average family inco;r.i anid le cl
o was bout equal to n ad eve a tl hi
th original refugees had lo:Ct the ca:L-;, and a number of local inhabitants
had graduallyy moved in.
10. Also, as far as their places of habitation are concerned, the refu-
gees have to a large extent morg'd \v.ith the indigenous population, `ven in-
cluding. the special case of the. Gaza Strip, only a third of the refugees lis
in camps. The camps themselves have in the course of time evolved into vil-
lages, small townships and urban quarters. The original homes have been ex-
pancded into family dwellings by the refugees themselves, from their own re--
11. It is also of interest to note that the majority of names on UNP.17L
lists today are-those of children and young people who were born after the
events of 1948 that created the refugee problem. The proportion will be eve:
larger When the lists catch up with undeclared deaths.
12.' natural Absorption Continuing -Apace: It appears, therefore, that
behind the political rhetoric, the natural absorption into the local life an;
economy is quite far advanced. In most areas the distinction between refuge;
and non-refugee has become very blurred. A practical solution would not,
therefore, start from scratch. It would consist largely in speeding up and
consolidating the existing process df integration; ensuring a productive lif.
for all those refugees that are willing and able to work; and merging refuge:
and non-refugee education, health, social welfare and relief services. The
need for relocation would apply in particular to the refugees in the Gaza
Strip, where the numbers certainly exceedd the absorption potential on the sp.
13. Need for Factual Survey: The first stage in any final settlement of
the problem will have to be a thorough factual survey, that will reveal how
many bona-fide refugees there actually are and what the real extent is of
their absorption. Only then can any. serious and practical planning be done
to rehabilitate those that still need it, and to start winding up a twenty-
year relief operation. ..
D. ...POLICY .GADThTNG PERSONS DIS'LACD,. BY 1,6.7_ .IOSTI.L.IES
1. The human problems of the persons displaced by the 19T57 hostilities
ar n d direct fruit of the war Jordan del.iberately launched against Is:r.l,
c.dpite uirgeit last--minute appeals. co nvoyed to the ,,Cig by Israel -~,u';:
.the Unri. o .d 7. :D. c.. o ....'.:,:. <: '0 ... .'' C :.J,~ --
sive hostility ovia.rds Israel i.. ;.; the pr:i -.' reason \hy the p oiliem.., ror::c.;,ns
2 Jo s gr.ssi Pc .: pat: The Govt o
Israel is accutoly conscious of .0the !u:can aspect relating to the cdispaced
persons quest o.. It is tryi, withi conditions of utmost provocation,
including incessant border warfare and imurdetrous torroris_;m, to help relieve
the problem as best' it can. The extent and rapidity with which repatriatio-
can be facilitated is inevitably affDec.ted by the political and security con-
dit ions. The Jordan Governn1.,t which aids and supports the terror incursion. .
and the border violence, andc which itself conducts a campaign of incitem-ient
against Israel-ainong the refugees, is making any .large-s.cale r.opatriation
efforts both difficult and s 4:nsitive. The squalid murders. of innocent
civilians are being glorified : in Amman as heroic exploits. The recent re-
ports of an accommodation bet"veen the Government of Jordan and the terrorist
organizations'-do not hold out much prospect of an early end of these 'act -:;o
vwar in flagrant violation of the coase--:fire.
3. Jordan Valley by-ptied by Attacks from Jorcan.: Jordan's refusal to
halt border attacks accounts directly for the fact that the temporary camps
are in the uplands and not down in the Jordan Valley where the winter clir at
is mild. As stated. in the UNR'.l' Commissioner-General's latest Report, the
refugees had fled last. isarch from the former camps in the Jordan Vallcy be-
cause of the security situation created there.
4. This continuous aggression which ~ has turned the Jordan Valley into a
battlefield ha's resulted in the almost total evacuation of its civilian in-
habitant-s east, of the R1iver. 3Betv/.een 60,000 and 70,000 from this area 'ave
moved further -inland, and a great number of them have swelled the relief
.ranks in and around Amman. They have been displaced by the terrorist organi-
zations 'that have established their bases in that zone and operate from it
with the support of the Jordan'Legion. 1V,'ere Jordan to alter its policies
and sc'rup.ulously observe the coaso--f.iro, these inhabitants could.be restored
to their hois immediately.
5 ROiatri-,ationr ProI.,rams: t is in thse conditions that Israel ~1h
sought to facilitate repntLriation pr .ogra, su'.ct to the dicta;s' o" is,
o ". cc:.:-.- 11y and the th., sa y a-;: ... ,, :, . ; u:' ;" "
Last year., 14,000 persons were repat:riatec in one project, and another
7,000 were given return permits but di.d iot appear. After that, Lthe Govern-
nment initiatedd a family reunion scheme, under which the .ocal inhabitantss
could apply :for the return of close relatives. By the end of June 1968,
3,000 persons had been returned under this heading. Since that date,
another 3,000 have been admitted and several thousand more approved.
6. In his statement to the General Assembly on October 8, 1968, the
Foreign Miinister, In'r. 2ban, declared:
"...my Government has decided, in view of the.forthcoming win-
Ster, to intensify and accelerate action to widen the uniting of
families scheme, and to process 'hardship cases' among.refugees
who had-crossed to the. fasta B13nk during the June 1967 fighting.
iloreover, permits for return which had been granted and not used
can be transferred to other refugees who meet the same require-
ments and criteria as 1the original recipients."
Administrative arrangements have already been made to carry out this
undertaking. The processing of fai;:ily reunion and hardship applications is
thus being intensified and accelerated. This will result in a substantially
higher rate of return in these cat.eories, without placing on them specific
limitations of time or number. Iiradcdition to this continuous flow, another
7,000 persons will be re-admitted on the basis of permits issued but not
used last year. The Ministry of the Interior, which is the responsible
Ministry, published an announcement on November 19,1938, that all permit
holders would be given'a fresh opportunity to come back by the end of Januar;
after which unused permits would be made available to other.applicants.