The government has decided to tackle head-on the alleged “Arab refugees” issue by renewing efforts for compensation for Jewish victims of Arab pogroms .
Estimates of property losses range from $16 billion to $300 billion in Arab countries where Arab leaders seized their property or took it over after Jews were expelled or forced to flee because of anti-Jewish violence and harassment.
Dr. Avi Bitzur, director-general of the Pensioners' Affairs Ministry, told Voice of Israel government radio it has created a new department to try to collect claims for more than 850,000 Jews from Iran and other Arab countries. Approximately 80 percent of them moved to Israel.
Most of the refugees fled or were expelled after the violent Arab reaction to the re-establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, six months after it was recognized by the United Nations under the Partition Plan that the Arab world rejected.
"Israel has talked about this on and off for 60 years. Now we're going to deal with it as we should have all along," said Bitzur.
He added that the Cabinet is scheduled to decide in the next two weeks to raise the issue of Jewish refugees whenever the Palestinian Authority brings up the “right of return,” referring to nearly five million Arabs living in Arab countries but for whom the United Nations considers Israel as their home. The designation is a result of a unique policy by UNRWA towards Arabs who fled Israel in 1948 at the behest of Arab countries, who promised them they would return quickly after their expected annihilation of the Jewish State.
The policy of the United Nations does not allow the status of “refugee” to be transferred from generation to generation, but it makes an exception for Arabs from Israel.
Bitzur added, “We should know the history of the pogrom in Baghdad in 1941, of the Libyan Jews who ended up in Bergen Belsen. It's time for people to know that there was this part of the Jewish people and its history was brought to an end."
"The UN has dealt at least 700 times with Arab refugees and their property, but not once with the issue of Jewish property.”