Draft Plans for the Problem of Refugees

Prior to the breakout of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, several attempts were made to workout more practical solutions for the problem of refugees. These attempts were made in the wake of mass expulsion and emigration of great numbers of Palestinians during the period from January 1947 up to March 1948. Following the adoption of the partition of Palestine by the United Nations in 1947, and in view of the hostile actions perpetrated by the Zionist terrorist movements against unarmed Palestinian citizens, approximately 30,000 Palestinians were forced to leave during the period from January 1947 up to March 1948.
An estimated 200,000 to 300,000 refugees left the country from March 1948 to May 1948 as a result of attacks launched by the Zionist Hagana and Stern movements, particularly following Deir Yasin massacre where 250 people were massacred. An initiative was taken by some Palestinian villages and nearby Jewish settlements to declare a state of reconciliation and non aggression. Representatives of the Palestinian villagers and the Jewish settlements agreed to refrain from waging wars of any hostile actions against each other. But the Zionist military movement violated this accord and committed its brutal massacre against Deir Yasin villagers in addition to the expulsion of all the inhabitants of Boram village.
The poeple of this village were not allowed to return home despite a decision issued to this effect by the Israeli supreme court. All these attemps, either those made at the local or the political levels, were initiated by Palestinians in an endeavor to satisfy the Jews and to live together in Palestine. The main objective of these attempts was to put an end to the Zionist expansionist greed in the region.

The goal of the Zionist movement towards these initiatives, was to establish their own state at the expense of the original inhabitants of Palestine. The Jews refused all the Arab appeals for peaceful coexistence and for a self-autonomy rule in Palestine and Jordan. All the Arab and international attempts sought to convince the Jews to accept self autonomy rule in Palestine, were doomed to failure. The Jews insisted on taking all of Palestine to establish their Jewish state. Nevertheless, the Jews accepted the UN resolutions on the partition of Palestine with some reservations prompted by their own ideology which called for the occupation of all Palestine.

This fact has been confirmed by Joseph Whitz, president of the Zionist movement in Palestine in 1940. Among these plans was the 1934 “Walchob” proposal which called for the establishment of a joint Palestinian-Jewish legislative council. A second plan named the “Pell” project drafted in 1937, also called for the partition of Palestine into three parts. The third and fourth plans called “Woodheed” and “Necomb” proposals were suggested in 1938 and 1940 respectively.
They called for the establishment of a Palestinian state in which the other minorities will be entitled limited authorities at the municipality level. Two more plans were also drafted by the Anglo-American fact finding committee and Lord Morrison in 1946. Several attempts were made at the international level, but were dismantled due to the arrogant Israeli position. Among these was UN resolution 194, calling for the partition of Palestine between Jews and Palestinians. This resolution was adopted by the security council at the end of several visits made to the region by UN envoy count Barnadot.
The UN resolution guaranteed the right of return for all Palestinians wishing to return and live in peace with their neighbors. It also secured the right to fair and equitable compensation for those who preferred to stay abroad. The resolution charged the reconciliation committee with the task of facilitating the return of refugees and to provide them with fair compensation.

In view of reports and recommendations released by the International Reconciliation Committee in Lusan and Paris, the UN Security Council decided to set up the “Internatioanl Documentation Committee”. The newly established committee recommended the return of some of the Palestinian refugees and compensation for the rest. Following its meeting in Paris in 1951, the committee called upon Israel to accept the return of a limited number of Palestinian refugees and to compensate the others. But Israel rejected both demands despite a previous pledge in 1948 to allow the return of 100,000 refugees. After accepting her as a member of the United Nations organization, Israel dissolved itself from implementing this resolution.
Working under direct instructions from the United Nations, secretary-general, Mr. Dag Hamarshield tried to find an appropriate solution for the problem of Palestinian refugees. After paying several visits to the area in 1959, the Secretary General pointed out that Israel is reluctant to implement UN resolutions 181 and 194, particularly the terms applicable to refugees. He proposed the expansion of rehabilitation programs for refugees through UNRWA.