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SUB-COMMISSION ON THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 15th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Friday, 8 August 2003, at 10 a.m.
Chairperson: Ms. WARZAZI
(E/CN.4/Sub.2/2003/8, 9, 11, 12/Rev.1, 14-18, 38/Rev.1, 41 and 42; E/CN.4/Sub.2/2003/NGO/3, 8, 13,14, 21,22, 29, 35-39, 42, 44 and 48; E/CN.4/2003/7)
54. Ms. ROSEN (World Jewish Congress), speaking also on behalf of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, said that the two organizations welcomed the Sub-Commission's decision to study certain rights of refugees and wished to draw its attention to the long-neglected case of nearly 1 million Jewish refugees from Arab lands. She stressed that the organizations she represented did not intend to deny the sufferings of Arab refugees from Palestine, but an understanding of the facts of the situation of the Jewish refugees was a precondition for creating a durable peace between Jews and Arabs.
55. After describing briefly the history of the Jewish refugees displaced from Arab countries since the late 1940's, she pointed out that they had been officially recognized as falling within the mandate of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The then High Commissioner had used his powers to seek the transfer of their assets but had been unable to obtain the cooperation of Egyptian and later of other national authorities. The Jewish refugees had then turned to Israel which had unhesitatingly accepted them without international assistance.
56. In contrast, following the unsuccessful invasion of Israel in 1948, approximately 650,000 Arabs had fled their homes. The Arab countries concerned, with the sole exception of Jordan, had placed them in refugee camps, which were still in existence under the auspices of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA). The refugee camps had become breeding grounds for terrorist organizations.
57. The Jewish and Arab refugee problems were interrelated but different: in the final analysis, there had been an unjust and cruel exchange of populations. The Council of Europe had recently proposed a constructive solution calling for compensation for Palestinian refugees choosing to remain in their various locations and for the establishment by the United Nations of a fund to finance resettlement. The Jewish refugees still awaited legitimate redress for denial of their human rights and spoliation of their property. There would be no lasting peace in the Middle East until that gross and systematic violation of their human rights had been addressed.