Home || Permalink


15 June 1949



Letter dated 15 June 1949
addressed by Mr. Nassib Bulos
Delegation Secretary Arabs Refugee Congress
to the Principal Secretary of
the Conciliation Commission


With reference to our meeting of June 8th, I should like to make the following observations and proposals:

1. Separated families: On the question of separated families, regarding which the Israeli Delegation has given a positive answer, it seems to me that the quickest way of giving effect to such a measure would be:

It would still be necessary, however; to ascertain the degree of relationship which would bring a member of a family within the category of separated families. The view of the Israeli Delegation on this point should perhaps be ascertained. In this connection I should like to point out that the social structure of Arab families differs fundamentally from that in western society. In Arab society, which in many respects is still patriarchal in character, the family is a much larger unit and embraces a wider circle of relatives than is otherwise the case in western society. Financial dependence is a factor which should also be taken into consideration. It would also he necessary to ascertain the conditions upon which such people could return, i.e. whether they would be allowed to work, or whether their movements would be restricted to limited areas etc.

2. Repatriation and Resettlement of Certain Refugees: It is difficult to ascertain with exactitude the number of refugees from Jewish held areas. Nonetheless it can fairly be assumed that at least a hundred thousand refugees come from localities which are not under Jewish occupation, but which were formerly either “no man’s” territory or too near to danger zones. The Armistice agreement between Transjordan and Israel has eliminated the “no man’s” zones. Presumably it should also be assumed, despite past and recent evidence to the contrary, that Israel will respect its commitments under the Armistice Agreements. Consequently this may be the moment when attention could be given to the repatriation and resettlement of Arab refugees in those areas referred to above. The manifold advantages of such a step are self evident:

Consequently, my Delegation proposes that: In making use of the U.N. Relief Programme, a system of distribution would have to be worked out. This could perhaps best he done if a number of distribution centres, conveniently located, to which refugees could come themselves and receive their rations on a weekly or fortnightly basis, are established, while on the other hand a roving medical unit would be required to handle the medical side.

2. Frozen Assets: On the question of frozen assets, on which the Jewish authorities have as yet given no answer, I should like to put forward an alternative proposal, should the Jewish reply be in the negative. The Commission is no doubt aware of the fact that the Arabs of Palestine have large sterling balances to their credit in London. It might be possible, therefore, subject of course to agreement by the British Government, to introduce a favourable reply from the Jewish authorities, if in return for the release of the whole or a part of Arab frozen assets, they could have the benefit of a sterling release by the British Government. Such a transaction would involve a double agreement: first agreement by the British Government to release sterling for the use of Israel, and secondly a further release of sterling equivalent to such part or the whole of the Arab frozen assets as may be released by Israel, to make it possible for Arab refugees, wherever they may be, to draw on their deposits at present frozen in Israel.

My Delegation would be most grateful, if in the meantime, the Commission would approach the British Government for its views on the matter. Such an arrangement, if agreed upon, would benefit all parties concerned: the Jews, because it would provide them with much needed sterling, the Arabs because it would help to alleviate their present desperate condition, and the British Government, in that it would provide them with an opportunity to make a friendly and positive gesture without imposing too heavy a burden on their economy

Document in PDF format

Le rapatriement des réfugiés, le regroupement familial, comptes bloqués - CCNUP - Lettre du Congrès des réfugiés arabes. Français