Who Are the ‘Refugees’?
The original Palestinian refugees were about 650,000 (a UN mediator at the time placed the figure at 472,000) Arabs who voluntarily abandoned their homes before the 1948 War of Independence. Arab leaders encouraged them to do so, boasting they would return victoriously to claim all of Israel.
Few in this group are still alive. Today’s “refugees” are their children and grandchildren, who have been forced by all their Arab brethren, except the Jordanians, to languish in refugee camps. Yasser Arafat claims there are 5 million “refugees.” More reliable sources place the figure at just over half that number. By the end of 2001, these camps cost the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) close to $1.8 billion to support, with the United States footing 60 percent of the bill.
Arafat says nothing about repatriating or compensatingthe 820,000 Jewish people whofled Arab countries at that timewith only the clothes on theirbacks because their property and possessions were confiscated. Of these, 586,000 wereresettled in Israel at greatexpense to Israel and with noArab compensation.
What happened to the 170,000Arabs who remained in Israel during the War of Independence? They became Israeli citizens