The Knesset 390 (R).
(photo credit: Ammar Awad / Reuters)
Peace with Arab countries will not be possible if they do not compensate the
Jews who were expelled after the State of Israel’s establishment, Knesset
Speaker Reuven Rivlin said on Monday at a Knesset conference.
Ze’ev (Shas), whose parents were banished from Iraq, called the conference two
years after the passage of his bill requiring any peace treaty to include
reparations to Jewish refugees, in hopes of ensuring the law’s implementation.
He also said he would form a Knesset caucus to promote the cause.
negotiations, there are two sides,” Ze’ev pointed out. “The world – especially
the US and Europe – must realize that [Jewish] refugees have
Rivlin said that Jews from Arab countries had been happy to
immigrate to Israel, but that did not erase the humiliation of having their
property confiscated as they left.
“We cannot have relations with a
country that justifies stealing,” he explained.
“If there is a treaty
between Israel and Arab countries, reparations must be included.”
Knesset speaker demanded the same of European countries, not only for victims of
the Holocaust, but also for those who immigrated to Israel and lost property
because of pogroms and anti- Semitism.
MK Einat Wilf (Independence)
pointed out that the UN Relief and Works Agency, which deals only with
Palestinian refugees, gives refugee status to a baby born in Gaza, not just to
those who fled the 1948 War of Independence.
“There are 30,000
[Palestinian] refugees, not five million. The world only knows half the story,”
she said. “There are Jewish refugees and there are Arab refugees. Both sides
must be compensated, because there were victims on both
Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin focused on
delegitimization of Israel, quoting from the Fatah faction’s platform, which
calls to “eliminate the Zionist presence.”
“They say that the very
establishment of the State of Israel is a sin that produced an evil,” Begin
said. “They deny our affinity to our homeland.”
Fiorello Provera, vice
chairman of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, also addressed
the conference, criticizing the EU for treating Israel like a “second-class
country.” Provera also asserted that anti-Zionism was anti-Semitism, and
lamented increasing harassment of Jewish communities in Europe.
described a double standard in which Israel was judged far more harshly than
other countries, saying that it “illustrates the new anti-Semitism, a by-product
of Islamic fundamentalism.”