British Foreign Office Estimates Israel Has Taken over $380,000,000 of Arab Assets

The Israeli Government has taken over 95,000,000 pounds ($380,000,000) of Arab assets in Israel, according to an estimate made by the Foreign Office here for the British Government.

This calculation includes the value of Arab Haifa and Jaffa, now in Israeli hands, and will be used, British sources say, as a basis for figuring the amount of restitution to be paid to the Arabs by Israel.

No decision has yet been reached on a proposal made by the British Foreign Office that the bulk of the Palestine sterling balance in London should be held as security against ultimate settlement of the Arab refugee account by Israel. The amount involved is calculated here as about 35 to 40 million pounds.

While there have been certain limited releases of funds in Israel’s account recently, these were held strictly to cover essential purchases from the sterling area, such as petroleum, wheat and other foodstuffs.

It is now learned that considerable sums have been released in the last few months to what is termed the “Arab Palestine account.” No detailed figures are available, but there is confirmation that large amounts have been freed from the so-called “frozen No. 2 account” through Barclays Bank to the Ottomon Bank for payment in Nablus and Hebron.

This money, according to financial circles here, must automatically find its way to Amman, Transjordan, under present circumstances and thus provide substantial reserves of convertible sterling currency for use by King Abdullah’s government.

It is becoming clear that the British Government is convinced that the great bulk of Arab refugees will not return to their homes and that alternative homes must be found for them without unduly upsetting existing social structures.

One serious resettlement problem, according to Middle East experts here, is that the introduction of large numbers of Palestine Arabs into Transjordan, Syria or Iraq would immediately produce a sharp social crisis in those countries. For the standard of life of the Palestine Arabs has been materially above that in the neighboring states. The consequences of such mass discontent among the resettled Palestine Arabs might be far-reaching and upsetting for the present regimes in those countries.

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