New Arab Plan for Compensation

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and U.S. President Barack Obama are slated to discuss a plan to compensate ex-Israeli Arabs and their descendants.

Hana Levi Julian, | updated: 10:15

Arab refugees
Arab refugees
Israel news photo: (file)

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and U.S. President Barack Obama are expected to discuss a new proposal that may offer compensation to Arabs who fled Israel during the 1948 war and their foreign-born descendants.

The plan would provide remuneration in lieu of a "right to return" which could result in some five million Arabs flooding into the State of Israel as new immigrants, according to a report published Tuesday by the London-based Arabic-language Al Quds Al-Arabi newspaper.

Also on the agenda at Tuesday's meeting will be the issue of "modifying the boundaries of 1967" and the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian Authority state. According to the report, Jerusalem would be the joint capital of both Israel and the new Palestinian Authority state under the plan, which was drawn up by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former Secretary of State James Baker III and former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft.

The issue of the "right of return" has been a major sticking point in every round of final status talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as well as in talks with the rest of Israel's Arab neighbors.

But the Jewish State is apparently not the only country reluctant to accept new Palestinian Authority immigrants. According to a report in the same issue of the newspaper, Syria has expelled 140 "Palestinian refugees" from Iraq, whom the report said fled to Norway, which granted them political asylum.

The refugees apparently came from various camps located on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border in which more than 2,600 other Palestinian Arabs are still housed, allegedly as a result of the U.S. war in Iraq.

The National Organization for Human Rights in Syria called on the Syrian and Jordanian governments in a statement to allow the entry of the Palestinian refugees from Iraq, saying they were seeking "protection from persecution and respect for human rights." The Kingdom of Jordan, noted the group, has only accepted 386 of the refugees, all of whom were married to Jordanian citizens.

Reference was made to the "difficult humanitarian situation of the Palestinian refugees" in Iraq, which the group – and the Syrian government – blamed on the United States.

Italy, too, was cited as a nation that had promised the "High Commissioner for Refugees" it would accept 180 Palestinian refugees – "but the latter [has] not fulfilled its promises so far."

Iceland agreed last year to accept 25 Arabs who were "stranded on the Iraqi-Syrian border," according to the report.