Eliyahu HaNavi Synagogue in Alexandria
Eliyahu HaNavi Synagogue in AlexandriaPublic domain

Israeli officials are on the verge of recovering millions of dollars in lost Jewish assets from across the Arab world and Iran, Social Equality Director-General Avi Cohen revealed on Wednesday.

Speaking at a hearing of the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs Committee, Cohen gave some insights into the government’s efforts to redeem property lost by Sephardic and Mizrachi refugees who fled their homes across the Middle East after the establishment of Israel in 1948.

Committee chair Avraham Negosa (Likud) called for unity in the efforts to restore lost Jewish assets to their rightful owners.

”Those who came from Arab states left their countries and left their property behind. We want to bring about historic justice, and finally make sure that this property is returned to its owners. It’s very important that the opposition and coalition be united on this issue. That’s an important tool for success.”

Cohen revealed that the government was indeed working towards that end, and a joint effort of the Foreign Ministry was likely to bear fruit in the near future.

“There is classified activity in conjunction with the Foreign Ministry in which we will invest millions to restore property belonging to Arab and Iranian Jewry, which will come to fruition within a month to a month-and-half. I cannot elaborate further.”

Both coalition and opposition MKs called for a resolution of the lingering issue, demanding the government do more to redeem lost property to their Sephardic and Mizrachi owners.

“There is a change among part of the establishment that recognizes the glorious communities of the Jews of Arabia and Islam, and we hope that we will be able to correct this injustice,” said Likud MK Oren Hazan, who called for the hearing. “Till they passed a law, one time it wasn’t implemented and another time it wasn’t worded well enough.”

Zionist Union chief Isaac Herzog endorsed efforts to recover lost property, while also linking the issue to his efforts for a “regional arrangement”.

“The issue was explicitly mentioned in our party platform before the last elections. If there is a move toward a regional arrangement, there’s no doubt that this issue must be on the agenda.”