Saturday, December 21, 2013

Revealed from archive: Israel’s secret plan to resettle Arab refugees in foreign countries

Haaretz 19 Dec by Arik Ariel — Plans drawn up during the 1950s and ’60s had one overriding goal: to preserve the demographic status quo by resettling the 1948 Arab refugees far away from the country — …In the summer of 1961, the skies above Jerusalem darkened when it emerged that the Kennedy administration was determined to find a solution for the approximately one million refugees who were crowded into camps from Syria and Lebanon in the north, as far as Jordan, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the south. ‏(The exact number of refugees, and the question of who should be classified as a refugee, remained a constant subject of controversy.) It would be a mistake, though, to think that the catalyst for Washington’s new initiative was the refugees’ wretched and pitiful condition, the Middle East conflict or the Cold War. It was, in fact, Congress that set the initiative in motion by urging the State Department to find a solution for the problem. What provoked Congress to become involved was the burgeoning amount of aid provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, in the form of food, education and health − and the fact that the American taxpayer was underwriting 70 percent of UNRWA’s budget…
The largest and most comprehensive plan, involving the transfer of thousands of Christian Arabs from Galilee to Argentina and Brazil, was given the secret codename “Operation Yohanan,” … In the spring of 1950, the director of the Foreign Ministry’s international institutions department, Yehezkel Gordon, suggested that Israel consider settling Arab refugees in Somalia and Libya, to take the place of the 17,000 to 18,000 Jews who had immigrated to Israel from Cyrenaica and Tripoli … In the first half of the 1960s, the Foreign Ministry continued to examine plans to encourage the emigration of Arab refugees from the Middle East to Europe, particularly to France and Germany … Israel’s efforts to find overseas locations in which to settle Arab refugees continued even after the Six-Day War of 1967. In the end, though, these efforts failed.
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