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UN Body Completes Study on Land Owned by Arab Refugees in Israel

Arab refugees own 453,000 parcels of “immovable property” in Israel, spread out over an area of more than 5,000,000 acres, about 50 per cent of the area being in the Negev Desert, the United Nations Palestine Conciliation Commission announced here today.

The PC’s has been conducting for 10 years a study trying to identify and evaluate the refugee-owned real estate in Israel. According to the PC’s, the Government of Israel has given the UN its fullest cooperation in the study.

No announcement was made of the value of the property. However, the PC’s noted that the valuation will be made on the basis of the market worth of the property as of November 29, 1947. That was the date the General Assembly voted its Palestine partition plan, which was rejected by the Arab states. The valuations will be based on the British Mandate of Palestine pound which, as of the 1947 date, was worth $4,03.

In making the announcement, the PC’s noted that the General Assembly had instructed it in 1950 to “make such arrangements as it may consider necessary for the assessment and payment of compensation” for certain Arab properties which the Arab refugees say they abandoned in Israel. In 1951, Israel had agreed, according to the PC’s, “to contribute to the settlement of the question of compensation for Arab property abandoned in its territory.”

A special PC’s staff has been at work on the identification and valuation task. While some of the work was done at UN Headquarters, data had been obtained from many official sources, including archives and tax rolls of the British Mandatory administration as well as data held by refugees in the Gaza Strip. Jordan and Syria.

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