Jerusalem – Israel’s Knesset Parliament passed a seminal bill last Wednesday that will affect any future Middle East peace negotiations.

According to the bill, it will not be possible for Israel to sign any diplomatic agreement with any state or foreign entity without arranging for the interests and rights of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

The refugees are defined, according to the UN’s Refugee Convention as, “the Jewish citizens of Israel who immigrated from Arab countries in the wake of the establishment of the State of Israel and forced to leave the property that had been in their ownership in their countries of origin.”

The terms received by the Jewish refugees, moreover, must be on par with the terms received by Arab refugees in the final status negotiations. 


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In addition, the bill says, “In any discussion on the subject of Palestinian refugees as part of peace negotiations in the Middle East, the Israeli government will raise the subject of awarding compensation for loss of property and the granting of equal status to the Arab refugees, who left their property from the day that the state was established, and Jewish refugees from Arab countries.”

The background explanatory statement about the bill notes that a million and a half Jewish refugees either were expelled or fled from Arab countries and were forced to leave their homes and property since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

The U.S. Congress passed a resolution in February 2008 stipulating that these Jews were defined as refugees in keeping with the explicit definition of the UN Refugee Convention. The bill states that the Israeli government already made the decision about registering claims of Jews from Arab countries. Now, this bill will obligate the government not only to “register” these claims, but also to include them in any future peace treaty and also in the negotiations which precede it.

David Bedein can be reached at: bedein@thbulletin.us

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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