Wording for the draft refugee law, which passed its first reading last week in the Knesset, was originally much tougher: it made peace talks conditional on compensation for Jewish refugees, AFP reveals. The draft was toned down because it would have been virtually impossible for peace talks to get off the ground.
JERUSALEM — A draft law stipulating that any Middle East peace treaty must mention compensation for Jews forced to leave Arab states has passed a preliminary reading in the Israeli parliament, a spokesman said on Wednesday.
The draft bill, presented by a member of the ultra-orthodox Shas party, a member of the government coalition, passed the preliminary vote 49 to 5 last week, said spokesman Giora Pordes.
The draft, which the Maariv daily called "a curious and provocative bill," still has to pass three more votes before it becomes law.
It calls for the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab states to be raised whenever the question of Palestinian refugees comes up in Middle East negotiations.
"The government should raise the issue about payment of compensation to Jewish refugees for the loss of their property and about granting to Jewish refugees who fled persecution in Arab countries a status similar to that of Arab refugees who lost their property when the state (of Israel) was created," the proposed law states.
Shas had initially wanted a tougher bill stating compensations for Jewish refugees must be agreed before any further peace negotiations are held. The paragraph, which would have made it virtually impossible to reach a peace accord, was eventually removed so the government could support the text.
The text of the draft says that 1.5 million Jews fled or were expelled from Arab states since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
A total of 700,000 Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes in what today is Israel amid the fighting that surrounded the creation of the Jewish state.