Knesset committee slams government

 Tsipi Livni… not interested

The government is ignoring Jewish refugees from Arab countries in
negotiations with the Palestinians, Knesset Control Committee chairman
Amnon Cohen (Shas) has said.  The two main obstacles seem to be opposition by chief negotiator Tsipi Livni to raising the issue  – and a
Pensioners’ ministry budget devoted to claims that is too small. Report in the Jerusalem Post:

“We have to take our brothers
from Arab countries into consideration. They don’t get any reparations
from property worth billions of dollars, which they had to abandon
because they were expelled,” Cohen explained.

However, US envoy in the negotiations Martin Indyk indicated earlier this year that a treaty could include such compensation.

Cohen
also called for Pensioners’ Affairs Minister Uri Orbach to prepare a
report on the value of lost Jewish property to be used in the talks, as
the topic currently falls under his jurisdiction, and to collect
information previously gathered by the Justice and Foreign Ministries on
the matter.

“Some Justice Ministers, like Tzipi Livni, aren’t
interested in the matter, even though the UN recognized the legitimacy
of Jewish refugees from Arab countries’ demands,” Cohen stated.

Orbach
said collecting information “is important because of these people’s
right to their lost property, but the chances of receiving compensation
are small…I don’t want to commit to missions that we may not be able to
handle, but we will up the pace of the documentation.”

However,
Pensioners’ Affairs Ministry Director-General Gilad Smama said that his
budget is too low for the project. Still, by the end of 2014, Smama
expects the ministry to gather testimony from 3,000 people.

Finance
Ministry representative Guy Harmati took issue with the complaint,
saying that the Pensioners’ Affairs Ministry asked for a NIS 50 million
budget, which is too high, and that he needs to see results before
increasing funds.

Levana Zamir, head of the International
Association of Jews from Egypt, said that 35,000 Jews were expelled from
Egypt in 1956 and that the Foreign Ministry documented some of their
abandoned property.

According to Zamir, part of the peace treaty
with Egypt said that Israel will demand compensation for the lost
property, but it never happened.

“Livni thinks that Jews from Arab countries are an obstacle to peace,” Zamir lamented.

Meir Kahlon, representing Libyan Jews, said communal property should count, as well.

“Palestinians
document every tent, well and thicket they had here but we left behind
property worth billions of shekels,” he stated.

Read article in full 

Video (in Hebrew) of the entire proceedings of 26.03.2014.

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