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A/AC.25/W/33
25 January 1950

ORIGINAL: ENGLISH
THE QUESTION OF COMPENSATION FOR PALATINE REFUGEES
(working paper prepared by the Secretariat)


1 The responsibilities of the Conciliation Commission with respect to compensation for Palestine refugees are set out in paragraph 11 of the resolution of the General Assembly of 11 December 1948, whereby the Assembly in the first place resolved:
and, secondly, instructed the Commission:
2. The attitudes of the Government of Israel and of the Arab Governments to the question of compensation, as ascertained by the Commission in the course of its negotiations with these Governments, were summed up in Working Paper W/24 of 7 September 1949, as follows:

"(a) ISRAEL

3. When the Technical committee on Refugees was sent to Palestine, in June 1949 it was instructed by item 6 of its terns of reference, to:

4. In its report of 7 September 1949 (vac,25/3) the Technical Committee stated as its conclusion with respect to property compensation:
5. By paragraph 1 (b) of its terns of reference the Economic Survey Mission was .instructed to make recommendations to the Commission for an integrated programme which is:
Furthermore, the Mission was instructed by paragraph 3 (t), in collaboration with the governments concerned:

6. Neither the Final Report of the Economic Survey-Mission (Part I) nor the Technical Supplement (Part II) deals with the question of property compensation, and only casual references to this. question can be found in these two documents.

7. In a letter dated 22 November 1949 and addressed to the Chairman of the Conciliation Commission by the Chairman of the Economic Survey Mission, the question of property compensation has, however, been reviewed and certain conclusions and suggestions submitted. The opinion is expressed that unless the Israeli Government is willing to consider compensation separately, it would be premature to make detailed recommendations regarding the evaluation of damage or the machinery for the settlement of compensation claims. It is proposed meanwhile that the problem might be advanced by setting up a refugee property trustee under the Conciliation Commission with the following functions:
8. In view of the fact that there is at present no indication of a possible modification in the attitudes of the parties towards the question of compensation, which the Arab Governments wish to see settled separately and independently of the peace settlement and which the Government of Israel is willing to consider only in connection with the peace settlement, it would seen too ambitious in the present circumstances to follow the course of action proposed by the Economic Survey Mission. It is submitted that if the Commission were now to appoint a Refugee Property Trustee with all the functions sat out above, it would prejudice the question at issue, i.e. the acceptable, moment for the settlement of the compensation claims, which question must be settled by the Commission through negotiation with the parties. It is suggested, therefore, that the Commission should, for the time being, limit itself to such steps as will facilitate the final solution of the problem, without prejudicing later decisions with respect to the procedure to be followed.

9. As such a step, it would seem both desirable and practicable for the Commission to proceed now with the establishment of the approximate value of the property losses of the refugees. The Commission might therefore carry out a survey to obtain factual, data concerning the amount, value and ownership of property for which compensation should be paid. This would correspond to the step proposed under (i) in the letter/from the Chairman of the Economic Survey Mission (see above under 7), but it night be profitable to undertake, simultaneously with the survey, a study of the various possible procedures for the payment of compensation, such as a lump sun payment for" resettlement projects, payment of individual claims, or a combination of both. A, preliminary survey of this kind would greatly facilitate the work of the Commission when the question of compensation has to be tackled at a later stage, and the initiation of such. a survey would, be in strict keeping with the terns of the resolution of the General Assembly: instructing the Commission to facilitate the payment of compensation.

10. Such a survey would of necessity have to be carried out on the spot and would involve consultations with Israeli authorities, in particular with; the Custodian of Absentee Property, and also with private and official persons in the Arab States who are in possession of property records or who are able to supply information regarding property values, Because of the technical character of this work it would appear desirable that the survey be carried out by a small number of experts with special experience in the field of property evaluation. The Secretary-General of the United Nations would presumably be able to submit to Commission the names of some such experts from whom the Commission might choose the persons who, in its opinion, would be best qualified for the task. The survey group could be assisted on the spot by certain Arab experts in the field of property compensation, such as lawyers, land evaluers and economists, the names of whom were made available to the former Technical Committee on Refugees.

11. The task of the survey group would thus be, in the first place, to obtain the factual data for the establishment of the approximate value of the property losses of the refugees and, secondly, to recommend to the Conciliation Commission possible procedures for settling the compensation claims. This task. would undoubtedly require several weeks but would, on the other hand, have to be considered only as a first step in the longer-range project which would ultimately carry through to a settlement of the compensation question. While the survey group is carrying out its task, the Commission might usefully attempt, by negotiation with the parties, to bring then closer together on this matter, in particular with respect to the following two questions:
With regard to (2), it should be pointed out that no reason is seen for limiting compensation to "lands abandoned and previously cultivated", as such property appears to be' in no different case from residential and business property and personal property. It should be noted also that, according to the memorandum accompanying the letter from the Chairman of the Economic Survey Mission, Dr. Horowitz of the Israeli Government, on 10 October 1949 clarified to members of the Mission that the expression "abandoned land" includes also urban buildings.


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1/ Mr. Sharett, on 18 March 1949, in Washington (Doc. IS/5), and in Speech delivered in the Knesset, on 15 June 1949.

2/ Dr. Eytan on 6 May 1949, in letter to the commission (Doc. IS/13)

3/ Ibid., ibid.

4/ Dr. Eytan, on 6 May 1949 (Doc. SR/G/1,p.12), and Dr. Eytan, on 3 May 1949 (Notes attached to SR/LM/6,p.3).

5/ Mr. Sharett, on 7 February 1949 (Doc.SR/G/1,p.12).

6/ Dr. Eytan, on 5 May 1949 (Notes attached to SR/LM/7,p.1)

7/ Mr. Sharett, on 7 February 1949 (Doc.SR/G/1,p.12)

8/ Dr. Eytan, on 5 May 1949 (notes attached to Sr/LM/7,p.l).

9/ Memorandum of the Arab delegations, dated 29 August 1949, in reply to the commission's questionnaire of 15 August 1949 (Doc. AR/17).

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