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Friday, May 21, 2010

Resolution 194

To give an idea of how Efraim Karsh uses real facts to turn  Arab propaganda that has become conventional wisdom on its head in his book Palestine Betrayed, here is what he writes about UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which the Arabs always insist provides for a "right of return":

While underscoring “the right of the Arab refugees to return to their homes in Jewish-controlled territory at the earliest possible date,” [Count Bernadotte's]  report also considered the possibility of resettlement outside Palestine, with those who chose not to return being adequately compensated for their lost property. “It must not... be supposed that the establishment of the right of refugees to return to their former homes provides a solution to the problent,” the report read. "The vast majority of the refugees may no longer have homes to return to and their resettlement in the State of lsrael presents an economic and social problem of special complexity. Whether the refugees are resettled in the State of Israel or in one or other of the Arab States, a major question to he faced is that of placing them in an environment in which they can find employment and the means of livelihood. But in any case their unconditional right to make a free choice should be fully respected."

This principle was duly incorporated into General Assembly Resolution 194, passed on December 11 after a three month deliberation of the mediator's report, which placed repatriation on a par with resettlement elsewhere. It advocated, in its own words, that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should he permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date,” but also that efforts should be made to facilitate the “resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees."

In tacit acceptance of the Israeli position, the resolution did not treat the refugee problem as an isolated issue but as part of a comprehensive settlement between Israel and its Arab neighbors. All of its fifteen paragraphs deal with the facilitation of peace, including the single paragraph that alludes to refugees in general - not “Arab refugees" - in language that could as readily apply to the thousands of Jews driven from their homes in the prospective Arab state and Jerusalem by the invading Arab armies. Moreover, the resolution expressly stipulated that compensation for the property of those refugees choosing not to return “should he made good by the governments or the authorities responsible,” indicating that the Arab states, as well as Israel, were seen as instigators of the refugee problem. be it Arab or Jewish.

It was just these clauses in Resolution 194 that made it anathema to the Arabs, who opposed it vehemently and voted unanimously against it. Equating return and resettlement as possible solutions to the refugee problem; placing on the Arab states some of the burden for resolving it; and, above all, linking the resolution of this issue to Arab acquiescence in the existence of the state of Israel and the achievement of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peaoe were seen, correctly, as rather less than useful to Arab purposes.