Point of No Return exclusive
Levana Zamir, head of the organisations of Jews from Arab countries in Israel, and Avi Nahmani, director of the lobby for the recovery of stolen property from Arab lands, listen while MK Oren Hazan (right) reads out the draft Convention.
Israel is reported to be in secret talks with Arab governments to agree on an international fund to compensate losses sustained by both Jews and Palestinian refugees.
According to Likud MK Micky Zohar, talks have been taking place with the Egyptian government and with the full knowledge and support of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
MK Micky Zohar, together with Likud MK Oren Hazan, co-chaired a meeting of the Knesset lobby for the recovery of stolen Jewish properties from Arab lands on 15 December to finalise a Convention proposing the establishment of an International Fund. This concept, first proposed by US president Clinton in 2000, will compensate both Jewish refugees from Arab lands and individual Palestinian refugees for their losses.
The lobby will work together with the government and Knesset to get the fund set up. It considers the International Fund a 'tool for peace' because it is thought that compensation will lead the Palestinians to drop their 'right of return'.
The heads of the representative bodies of Jews from Arab countries put their signatures to the Convention. "It was very moving," said Levana Zamir, overall head of the representative bodies of Jews from Arab lands. " We thought of our parents who did not have this privilege and did not survive to see their sufferings recognised. It was a miracle."
Barring a few amendments, the Convention will form the basis for a bill to be proposed in the Knesset. In 2010, the Knesset passed a law stipulating that no peace treaty could be signed without compensation for Jewish refugees being on the agenda.
As the numbers of Jewish refugees still living are fast diminishing, the Convention will also propose a law to enable descendants of refugees to qualify for compensation.
The lobby undertakes to push for a renewed campaign to register property claims. It will also do its utmost to publicise the 'Jewish Nakba' and establish a museum dedicated to the history of Jews driven from the Middle East and North Africa.
For a copy of the text of the Draft Convention (Hebrew), please email firstname.lastname@example.org