Israel will demand $250 billion in compensation from seven Arab countries and Iran for assets left by Jews forced to flee after the creation of the State of Israel, in an effort to correct the “historic injustice” of the pogroms.
The specific demands are being finalized for the first two of the eight countries, according to Hadashot TV news, which reported that Israel would seek $35 billion from Tunisia and $15 billion from Libya. Compensation will also be sought from Morocco, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Iran.
Gila Gamliel, Israel’s Minister for Social Equality, who is coordinating the effort, said that the time had come to “correct the historic injustice of the pogroms [against Jews] in seven Arab countries and Iran, and to restore, to hundreds of thousands of Jews who lost their property, what is rightfully theirs.”
With the help of an international accountancy firm, the Israeli government has been quietly researching the value of property and assets that Jews were forced to leave behind when they left the countries in question, the Hadashot report said. Compensation, if it were received, would not be allocated to individual Jewish families, but would be distributed through a special Israeli state fund, according to the report.
An estimated 856,000 Jews fled 10 Arab countries after Israel was established in 1948, according to Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC). Until now, however, Israel has never formally requested compensation for Jews forced to leave Arab countries.
Meir Kahlon, chairman of the Central Organization for Jews from Arab Countries and Iran told the Times of Israel that at the time, Jews did not seek refugee status in the newly-created Israel as it was seen as a return to their “historic homeland” and the country’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, wanted to project an image of a state that was legitimate and could care for its people.
The move comes as the Trump administration in the United States prepares its long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal — an effort which some analysts have already declared dead-in-the-water after the US, in a hugely controversial move last year, recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It also relocated its embassy to the city, which Palestinians in turn consider as the designated capital of the State of Palestine.
In 2010, Israel passed a law which states that any peace deal must provide for compensation for Jews forced to flee Arab countries and Iran.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has also sought $100 billion in compensation from Israel for assets left by Arabs forced to leave the lands controlled by Israel today. Palestinians have also sought a “right of return” for the surviving refugees and their descendants — a demand that has repeatedly been dismissed by Israel. The Trump administration also seems to have taken Israel’s side on that issue, halting funding for the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) last year.
In 2014, Israel officially made November 30 a national day to commemorate the exiting of Jews from Arab and Iranian lands. Each year the day is used to raise awareness of the subject and to promote the issue of compensation to Jews. That year, Canada also formally recognized the refugee status of its Jewish emigres who fled there after 1948.
At a 2014 event marking the displacement of Jews, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Arab countries had “compelled” Jews living in their territories to leave their homes and assets behind and that the state would “continue to act” so that the claims of those Jews “are not forgotten.”