Let’s take a closer look at the Palestine Paper of 2008. unearthed by the Elder of Ziyon blog (see above post). What is interesting is that the Palestinian leadership recognises the rights of Jews who owned land in the ‘Occupied Palestinian Territories’ before 1967. Post the ‘occupation’ (1967), ‘property transactions benefiting Israel are invalid’, the document declares, confusing land ownership with sovereignty.
But Jews who owned land before 1967 in the ‘occupied territories’ do have rights. Obviously the Palestinian leadership recognises these rights because they want reciprocal rights for Palestinians. They even recognise these Jews have a ‘right of return’ – and their descendants. They have a right to restitution, or if this is not possible, compensation.
Jews who lived in and/or owned property in what became the OPT and who were subsequently displaced and/or dispossessed of their property are entitled to remedies for their losses under international law. They are in fact in a very similar position to that of Palestinians who were displaced and dispossessed in what became Israel.
What’s the catch?
The document claims that rights only pertain to those Jews who were nationals of Palestine under British mandate – thus ensuring the bare minimum of eligible Jews. Where Israel has compensated Jews for their lost property, Palestine will be ‘relieved’ of that responsibility. Palestine, moreover, will not be responsible for compensating Jews for other material losses – ‘these would be required from Egypt and Jordan’.
In other words – the legal basis for Jewish rights seems to be a dog’s dinner.
The document sets out three policy options for the Palestinian negotiating strategy: 1. Wait for Israel to raise pre-1967 Jewish rights. 2. Pre-emptively raising pre-1967 Jewish rights. 3. Not recognise pre-1967 Jewish rights.
The paper anticipates that 1. and 2. may serve as a precedent for other Arab states, who may not ‘respond well to it and who may allow it to affect their support for Palestinians.’
I takes this to mean that Arab states will then have to follow the Palestinian lead and recognise that they will have to compensate all their Jews who lost property rights (and lost far more than the Palestinians). Understandably, they would not be best pleased with the Palestinians.