JERUSALEM (Jul. 19)
Israel has paid out nearly $6,000,000 to Palestine Arab refugees whose bank accounts were frozen in Israel banks, it was learned here today. It was also revealed that valuables and documents in safe deposit boxes in the banks have been returned to many Arab owners, through the medium of the United Nations and a British bank acting as agents for the Israel Government.
The frozen accounts were returned mostly to Arabs now residing in Jordan. Less than $3,000,000 in frozen bank deposits plus the contents of some boxes still remain to be returned. The Israel unilateral agreement to return these assets was worked out with the United Nations Palestine Conciliation Commission. Jordan’s role in the return of assets was agreeing to permit the refugees to apply for and receive their property. For a time even this role was fulfilled grudgingly, with Jordan objecting to the wording of the application forms.
It was reported that Barclays Bank–the Israel agent–has begun negotiations with the Egyptian authorities for the return of property of Arab refugees now living in the Gaza strip. The arrangements discussed with Egypt are similar to those agreed to by Jordan. Syria and Lebanon, which are hosts to some refugees, are said to be interested in such an arrangement.
The contents of safe deposit boxes are opened in the presence of UN officials, Israel officials and bank representatives nominated by Israel and the Arab owners. The contents are listed then resealed and delivered by the bank, safeguarded by UN personnel, to the Arabs.