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H.R. 6242 (112th): To direct the President to submit to Congress a report on actions the executive branch has taken relating to the resolution of the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

The text of the bill below is as of Jul 31, 2012 (Introduced).


I

112th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 6242

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

July 31, 2012

(for himself, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, Mr. Berman, Mr. Poe of Texas, Mr. Crowley, and Mr. Turner of New York) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

A BILL

To direct the President to submit to Congress a report on actions the executive branch has taken relating to the resolution of the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

1.

Findings

Congress finds the following:

(1)

Armed conflicts in the Middle East have created refugee populations numbering in the millions and comprised of peoples from many ethnic, religious, and national backgrounds.

(2)

Jews have lived mostly as a minority in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf region for more than 2,500 years.

(3)

The United States has long voiced its concern about the mistreatment of minorities and the violation of human rights in the Middle East and elsewhere.

(4)

The United States continues to play a pivotal role in seeking an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East and to promoting a peace that will benefit all the peoples of the region.

(5)

United States administrations historically have called for a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.

(6)

The Palestinian refugee issue has received considerable attention from countries of the world while the issue of Jewish refugees from the Arab and Muslim worlds has received very little attention.

(7)

A comprehensive peace in the region will require the resolution of all outstanding issues through bilateral and multilateral negotiations involving all concerned parties.

(8)

Approximately 850,000 Jews were displaced from Arab countries since the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948.

(9)

The United States has demonstrated interest and concern about the mistreatment, violation of rights, forced expulsion, and expropriation of assets of minority populations in general, and, in particular, former Jewish refugees displaced from Arab countries as evidenced, inter alia, by—

(A)

the Memorandum of Understanding signed by President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan on October 4, 1977, which states that [a] solution of the problem of Arab refugees and Jewish refugees will be discussed in accordance with rules which should be agreed;

(B)

after negotiating the Camp David Accords, the Framework for Peace in the Middle East, the statement by President Jimmy Carter in a press conference on October 27, 1977, that Palestinians have rights . . . obviously there are Jewish refugees . . . they have the same rights as others do; and

(C)

in an interview after Camp David II in July 2000, at which the issue of Jewish refugees displaced from Arab lands was discussed, the statement by President Clinton that There will have to be some sort of international fund set up for the refugees. There is, I think, some interest, interestingly enough, on both sides, in also having a fund which compensates the Israelis who were made refugees by the war, which occurred after the birth of the State of Israel. Israel is full of people, Jewish people, who lived in predominantly Arab countries who came to Israel because they were made refugees in their own land..

(10)

On April 1, 2008, the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 185, expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that—

(A)

for any comprehensive Middle East peace agreement to be credible and enduring, the agreement must address and resolve all outstanding issues relating to the legitimate rights of all refugees, including Jews, Christians, and other populations, displaced from countries in the Middle East; and

(B)

the President should instruct the United States Representative to the United Nations and all United States representatives in bilateral and multilateral fora to—

(i)

use the voice, vote, and influence of the United States to ensure that any resolutions relating to the issue of Middle East refugees, and which include a reference to the required resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue, must also include a similarly explicit reference to the resolution of the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries; and

(ii)

make clear that the United States Government supports the position that, as an integral part of any comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, the issue of refugees from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf must be resolved in a manner that includes recognition of the legitimate rights of and losses incurred by all refugees displaced from Arab countries, including Jews, Christians, and other groups.

(11)

The international definition of a refugee clearly applies to Jews who fled the persecution of Arab regimes, where a refugee is a person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country (the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees).

(12)

On January 29, 1957, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), determined that Jews fleeing from Arab countries were refugees who fell within the mandate of the UNHCR.

(13)

Subsequently, in a second UNHCR declaration, Dr. E. Jahn of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner stated, on July 6, 1967: I refer to our recent discussion concerning Jews from Middle Eastern and North African countries in consequence of recent events. I am now able to inform you that such persons may be considered prima facie within the mandate of this Office..

(14)

United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 of November 22, 1967, calls for a just settlement of the refugee problem without distinction between Palestinian and Jewish refugees, and this is evidenced by the following:

(A)

On November 16, 1967, the United Kingdom submitted a draft of Resolution 242 (S/8247) to the United Nations Security Council. This United Kingdom draft called for a just settlement of the refugee problem. The Soviet Union submitted its own draft of Resolution 242 (S/8253) to the United Nations Security Council four days later which restricted the just settlement to only Palestinian refugees.

(B)

On November 22, 1967, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved the draft of Resolution 242 advanced by the United Kingdom. It thus rejected the limitation proposed by the Soviet Union and accepted the broader notion of a just settlement of the refugee problem arising out of the Middle East conflict to include Palestinian and Jewish refugees.

(C)

Justice Arthur Goldberg, the United States Chief Delegate to the United Nations at that time, who was instrumental in drafting the unanimously adopted Resolution 242, pointed out that The Resolution addresses the objective of achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem. This language presumably refers both to Arab and Jewish refugees, for about an equal number of each abandoned their homes as a result of the several wars..

(15)

In his opening remarks before the January 28, 1992, organizational meeting for multilateral negotiations on the Middle East in Moscow, United States Secretary of State James Baker made no distinction between Palestinian refugees and Jewish refugees in articulating the mission of the Refugee Working Group, stating that [t]he refugee group will consider practical ways of improving the lot of people throughout the region who have been displaced from their homes.

(16)

The Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, which refers in Phase III to an agreed, just, fair, and realistic solution to the refugee issue, uses language that is equally applicable to all persons displaced as a result of the conflict in the Middle East.

(17)

Israel’s agreements with Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians have affirmed that a comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict will require a just solution to the plight of all refugees.

(18)

Israel’s long-standing position in support of the rights and claims of Jewish refugees from Arab countries and Iran is well-established:

(A)

On September 28, 1969, Israel adopted Government Decision number 34, in which it set up a special, temporary department in the Ministry of Justice to gather facts and evidence regarding property expropriated and persecution perpetrated on Jews in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

(B)

On March 3, 2002, Israel adopted Government Decision number 1544, in which it reaffirmed Government Decision number 34 and expanded it to include Jews who left all Arab countries and Iran.

(C)

On December 28, 2003, Israel adopted Government Decision number 1250, in which it reaffirmed Government Decisions number 34 and 1544 and directed the Department for the Rights of Jews from Arab Countries in the Ministry of Justice to continue collecting information on property expropriated and persecution perpetrated on Jews in Arab countries, create a centralized database of this information, and publish this information to encourage parties to come forward.

(19)

Recently, in February 2010, the Israeli Knesset adopted a law preserving the rights for compensation for Jewish refugees who originated from Arab countries and Iran. According to this law, the Israeli government and its prime minister are instructed to raise the issue of compensation for private and communal property during negotiations.

(20)

The initiative to secure rights and redress for Jews who were forced to flee Arab countries does not conflict with the right of Palestinian refugees to claim redress.

(21)

All countries should be aware of the plight of Jews and other minority groups displaced from countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf.

(22)

An international campaign has been proceeding in some 20 countries to record the history and legacy of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

(23)

A just, comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace cannot be reached without addressing the uprooting of centuries-old Jewish communities in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf.

(24)

It would be inappropriate and unjust for the United States to recognize rights for Palestinian refugees without recognizing equal rights for Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

2.

Report

Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every two years thereafter, the President shall submit to Congress a report on the following:

(1)

Actions the executive branch has taken to fulfill the sense of the House of Representatives, as contained in paragraph (2) of the first section of House Resolution 185 (as passed the House of Representatives on April 1, 2008) and described in section 1(10)(B) of this Act.

(2)

Actions the executive branch has taken to use the voice, vote, and influence of the United States to ensure that any statements that include a reference to the required resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue by the Quartet on the Middle East, which includes the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia, must also include a similarly explicit reference to the resolution of the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

(3)

Assistance the United States has provided to Israel to help it accomplish its goal that the interests of Jews displaced from Arab countries are considered in any final settlement of the Middle East refugee question that is part of any comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.

(4)

Recommended actions that would ensure that the interests of all refugees displaced from Arab countries, including Jews, Christians, and other groups, are considered in any final settlement of the Middle East refugee question that is part of any comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.