Peace with Arab countries will not be possible if they do not compensate the Jews who were expelled after the establishment of the State of Israel, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said on Monday, the Jerusalem Post reports. He was speaking at a conference to mark the second anniversary of the passing of the Knesset law calling for compensation to Jewish refugees from Arab countries and Iran. (With thanks: Simon)
MK Nissim Ze’ev (Shas), whose parents were banished from Iraq, called the conference two years after the passage of his bill to require any peace treaty to include reparations to Jewish refugees, in hopes of ensuring the law’s implementation. He also said that he would form a Knesset caucus to promote the cause.
“In negotiations, there are two sides,” Ze’ev pointed out. “The world – especially the US and Europe – must realize that [Jewish] refugees have rights.”
Speaking at the conference, Rivlin said that Jews from Arab countries were happy to immigrate to Israel, but that does not erase the humiliation of having their property confiscated as they left.
“We cannot have relations with a country that justifies stealing,” he explained. “If there is a treaty between Israel and Arab countries, reparations must be included.”
The Knesset Speaker said that the same demand is made of European countries, not only for victims of the Holocaust, but also for those who immigrated to Israel and lost property because of pogroms and anti-Semitism.
MK Einat Wilf (Independence) pointed out that the UN Relief and Works Agency, which deals only with Palestinian refugees, gives a baby born in Gaza refugee status, not just those who fled the 1948 War of Independence.
“There are 30,000 refugees, not five million. The world only knows half the story,” she said. “There are Jewish refugees and there are Arab refugees. Both sides must be compensated, because there were victims on both sides.”