Don Peretz

Compensation as Part of a Comprehensive Solution to the
Palestinian Refugee Problem


Palestinian Refugee Compensation Workshop - IDRC

Don Peretz

In 1952 I received a Ford Foundation fellowship to study Israel's policy toward the Palestine Arab refugee problem. The study consisted of several working papers which were later published as a book by the Middle East Institute in Washington DC, and were the basis of my Ph.D thesis at Columbia University; the book, Israel and the Palestine Arabs (1958) contained five chapters dealing with Israel's treatment of Arab property and the issue of compensation. Several of the working papers that were to become the book were used by officials working with the UNCCP in their attempts to identify and evaluate the extent of Palestinian refugee property in Israel.

Since 1952 I have published several articles and monographs dealing with the Palestinian refugee problem, some of them focusing on the compensation issue. One of these monographs, Palestinian Refugee Compensation, published by The Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine (Washington, D.C. May 1995) is being distributed to members of this workshop.

Until now the compensation issue has not been confronted in negotiations dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict although inevitably it will become an integral part of these negotiations when the refugee issue is discussed in the final status phase of the peace process. Given the complexity of the compensation issue it may prove to be the most difficult problem in the negotiation process. Among the difficult aspects of the problem are:

A. Definition of compensation:

what is to be compensated for - movable property, immovable property, loss of life, careers, professions, etc

B. Identification of property:

immovable - land categories (agricultural, urban, waste, etc.); buildings (commercial, housing etc.); movable - household effects, transportation vehicles, industrial machinery and items.

C. Identification of compensation recipients:

will only immovable and/or movable property be compensated for? How after fifty years will previous ownership be determined? What status for joint and/or collective ownership? Compensation status of non-property owners.

D. Evaluation of property to be compensated for:

Evaluation based on 1948 or 2000 values? Will changes in property values, either increased and/or decreased values be considered?

E. Methods of payment:

Individual, collective, or global payments; payments to be direct to recipients or through intermediary parties or agencies; Payments to be balanced against counter-claims by each side? Timing of payments - through long term payment bonds or similar devices.

F. Sequences of compensation:

Order of determining controversial issues such as property identification, evaluation, ownership identification, counterclaims.

G. International law and compensation:

Previous precedents - India-Pakistan, Turkey-Greece, Post World War II claims.

The PRRN/IDRC compensation workshop was funded by IDRC and the Canadian International Development Agency thrrough the Expert and Advisory Services Fund. PRRN is a project of the Interuniversity Consortium for Arab Studies (Montréal).

Last modified 31/7/99. Marc Lanteigne/ , Rex Brynen/