The Jerusalem Post explains why a historic bill on refugee rights could be crucial to a peace settlement with the Palestinians by negating the basis for an Arab right of return.
The Knesset's Immigration and Absorption Committee began hearings Tuesday regarding a bill that would ensure compensation for Jews who fled or were forced out of Arab countries following the creation of the state of Israel.
The bill, which was sponsored by MK Nissim Ze'ev (Shas) was initially put on hold by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation out of concerns that one of its clauses would limit the government's ability to conduct peace negotiations, but the committee then unanimously approved it on the condition that Ze'ev agreed to remove the problematic clause.
In addition to allowing Jews to press claims against Arab countries regarding property that they were forced to leave behind, Ze'ev argued that parallel refugee status would enable negotiators to claim that Palestinian and Jewish refugees had been part of a "population exchange," thus negating the basis for Palestinian claims to a right of return.
Bataween adds: in 1957 and 1967 the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and UN Resolution 242 of 1967, recognised Jews from Arab countries as refugees with rights. See JJAC legal report. See also The plight of refugees and Resolution 242 by Ruth Lapidoth.