Hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries made Aliyah [immigration] to Israel in its early years, after being banished and forced to leave behind property and asset worth billions of dollars.
A legislative proposal on the issue by Knesset Member Nissim Zev (Shas) passed its preliminary Knesset reading on Sunday.
The bill stipulates that in any negotiations with the Palestinian Authority on the rights of Arabs who left Israel in 1948, the government of Israel would be required to present its own demands for reparations for the Jews of Arab countries.
MK Zev says his proposal is anchored in both a United Nations resolution and the U.S. Congress.
“The Jews from Arab countries are defined as refugees by the United Nations,” he emphasized.
“It’s not something we made up, but rather a U.N. definition. In addition, the American Congress itself resolved, in 2008, that the rights of these Jewish refugees must be recognized in the course of the negotiations.”
The resolution, passed by the House of Representatives in April 2008, recognized Jewish refugees from Arab countries who were forced to flee their homes in the aftermath of the creation of the State of Israel.
It requires U.S. officials involved in any Middle East peace negotiations that deal with the Arab refugees to "also include a similarly explicit reference to the resolution of the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries."
One Congressional co-sponsor said at the time that “it’s not just the Arabs and Palestinians in the Middle East, but also Jewish people who themselves were dispossessed of their possessions and their homes, and were victims of terrorist acts.”
Another said there were more Jewish refugees than Palestinian refugees, and “their forced exile from Arab lands must not be omitted from public discussion on the peace process."