Knesset Debates Removal of Legal Limitations of Palestine Arabs

The Arabs in Israel have doubled the area of land under cultivation since the state was established, Finance Minister Levi Eshkol told Parliament today. He also reported that Arab produce grown during 1953 was valued at 25,000,000 pounds.

Mr. Eshkol made his statements during a debate in Parliament on a bill to remove a five-year statute of limitations on suits by or against Arabs who fled Israel, The bill passed its first reading.

Mr. Eshkol revealed that as of Dec, 3, 1953, the government had settled claims by Arabs who fled Israel and later returned, for land totalling 262,000 dunams (65,500 acres). Under the law, land abandoned by such refugees must be returned to them upon their return. If this proves impossible an alternate tract must be given them or monetary compensation must be paid.

During the debate on the statute of limitations bill, Aharon Zisling, Mapam deputy, charged that the government “discriminates against the Arabs.” The Minister asserted that making such allegations was “similar to siding with the enemy.” The Minister charged that in most cases Arab claims could have been settled easily had the claimants not been persuaded “for unholy reasons” not to accept the proffered settlements.

The Israel Ministry of Welfare has allotted 120,000 pounds for welfare work among former Arab refugees in Israel during the 1953-54 fiscal year, it was announced today. This compares with 75,000 pounds allotted last year.

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