Jerusalem (Jul. 1)
Israel’s proposed measure to compensate East Jerusalem Arabs for the property they lost when the Jewish State was established in 1948 drew a cautious but generally favorable response from prominent East Jerusalem Arabs yesterday. But is has been assailed and denounced by the nationalist press in Beirut. Arabs across the border described the Government bill, announced Tuesday by Justice Minister Yaacov Shapira, as a “gimmick” designed to tighten Israel’s grip on East Jerusalem and its inhabitants. According to the Jordanian Minister of Information. Adnan Abu Udeh, who comes from Jerusalem, the compensation offer is a “conspiracy” aimed at changing the citizenship of Jerusalem Arabs from Jordanian to Israeli in order “to complete the annexation of the Holy City.” Another Palestinian spokesman claimed in Amman that that interpretation was “the only explanation why compensation is offered only to Jerusalem Arabs of all the inhabitants of occupied Arab territory.” Nothing in the Shapira measure indicates that East Jerusalem Arabs would have to become Israeli citizens in order to qualify for compensation. East Jerusalem Arabs retain Jordanian citizenship but became legal residents of Israel after the 1967 war and are subject to Israeli law. Arabs in the other occupied territories are not considered residents of Israel and have been allowed to retain the Jordanian legal code. A compensation bill passed by the Israeli Knesset therefore could not be applied to them.
Many East Jerusalem Arabs expressed reservations over the measure yesterday, mainly because they lacked concrete details. They said the news came as a complete surprise, Several prominent East Jerusalem lawyers, among them former Jordanian Defense Minister Anwar Nusseibeh, said they needed time to study the proposed legislation. Mahmoud Abu Zuluf, editor and publisher of the Jerusalem Arabic daily Al Kuds, who held property in Tel Aviv and Jaffa that is estimated to be worth millions, expressed reservations about the method of evaluating the property and the means of payment but he thought the bill could provide “a partial settlement of the refugee problem.” The measure, which Shapire has cleared with the Premier and Finance Minister, would obligate the Government to pay an estimated minimum of $100 million to Arab residents of East Jerusalem for property they held prior to 1948 in what is now Israeli territory. The compensation would be in the form of 20 year Government bonds.