ISRAEL'S ADMINISTRATION AND ARAB REFUGEES

Israel's decisive victory in the Six Day War of June 1967 radically altered the dimensions of the Arab refugee dilemma. It is no longer the same dilemma which has confronted the Middle East, the United Nations and the United States for some twenty years. Almost overnight Israel became the principal refugee host country, with approximately half the total number of registered refugees under its control. This is an ironic turn in the history of the problem, since Israel had always insisted that the refugees be resettled beyond its frontiers in the neighboring Arab territories of Jordan, Egypt and Syria. Now that it controls parts of those countries, it is directly confronted with responsibility for more than one million Arabs- about half of them refugees of 1947-48. Any settlement of the Palestine conflict which Israel would find acceptable will bring many of these territories and a substantial number of their Arab inhabitants under its permanent jurisdiction.

Israeli public opinion, press comment and government attitudes are daily becoming more intense in their determination that there be no return to the prewar boundaries. Each day that passes without tangible indications of a major change in Arab policy toward Israel further entrenches the new status quo and whets Israeli appetites for retaining larger slices of the "new territories." Jerusalem, with its borders greatly extended into Hashimite Jordan, has already become "non-negotiable," and the city's 65,000 Arabs have been declared residents of Israel. Responsible leaders of all political parties except a pro-Arab faction of the Communists have declared other areas such as Gaza, the Syrian Golan Heights, Sinai and western Jordan negotiable only with guarantees that they will never again threaten Israel. Since these areas include half the Palestinian Arabs, their future will be determined by Israel's plans for the territories.

The dimensions of the new territories are startling. They are about four times the area of Israel within its 1948 armistice frontiers. The Jordanian West Bank includes most of the major towns in the Hashimite Kingdom. In addition to Jerusalem, other cultural and economic centers lost were Hebron, Nablus, Jenin, Jericho, Tulkarm, Ramallah, Kalkilya and Bethlehem. The Jerusalem-Bethlehem tourist center was a mainstay of the Jordanian economy, providing about 25 percent of the country's foreign currency earnings. According to official Jordanian estimates, the West Bank contributed 40 percent of the country's gross domestic product. Investment in the West Bank represented about 95 percent of total Jordanian investment in tourism, 60 percent in private construction, 52 percent in government buildings, 48 percent in municipal and rural development schemes and 44 percent in highways and roads. Although less than a third of Jordan's cultivated land was on the West Bank, the region produced 87 percent of the country's olives, 80 percent of its fruits and 45 percent of its vegetables. More than half of the government-financed coöperative societies were established on the West Bank.

At the same time that the Hashimite Kingdom lost a third to a half of its economic productivity, it acquired between 150,000 and 220,000 Palestinians who left their West-Bank homes to become nonproductive refugees on the eastern side. Nearly half of these Palestinians were refugees for a second time, having left their original homes, now in Israel, during 1947-48. Israeli policy toward the new refugees soon became linked with an overall peace settlement. The more distant such a settlement became, the more remote became the possibility of their return to their homes on the West Bank. Immediately after the June war, the Israeli Government had indicated a willingness to permit the controlled return of a limited number of the new east-bank refugees. But as the political situation froze, Israel's willingness to permit even a limited return rapidly cooled. Recent official policy has been to permit repatriation across the Jordan River only in special cases of family reunion. Last August, when an official repatriation scheme was authorized, only 14,000 well-selected Palestinians were permitted to return to the West Bank. Excluded from this number were Jerusalem residents and refugees from 1948.

More than 90 percent of the Palestinians under Egyptian jurisdiction lived in the Gaza Strip, occupied until June by the Egyptian army. Refugees there were not permitted to abandon the Strip. Their sense of Palestinian identity was kept alive by many devices. The area was never incorporated into Egypt, but retained the framework of law and administration existing when it was part of British mandatory Palestine. Palestinian rules and regulations remained in force and many mandatory officials, including many mayors, judges and other government officers kept their posts. For a short time Gaza was the seat of a Palestinian government in exile, but several years ago it quietly withered away. Meanwhile, a combination of circumstances contributed to an economic revival in Gaza; life promised to become viable for most residents, including the refugees. The expanding citrus industry was exporting between 1.5 and 2 million crates of fruit per year, providing wages for several thousand Palestinians. With their hard- currency earnings, Gaza citrus merchants purchased European luxury goods which they sold through the new free port established by President Nasser. Both the United Nations Emergency Force of three thousand to five thousand men and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) brought substantial infusions of foreign currency. The town of Gaza was beginning to bustle with the activity of hundreds of shopkeepers and middlemen who also employed refugees, providing them with attractive increments to supplement their UNRWA rations and services.

The June war shattered Gaza's pattern of emerging economic viability. No longer is it, nor is it likely again to become, an Egyptian free port. UNEF is gone and the future of UNRWA there is uncertain. Only the citrus production continues, but earnings will now be subject to rigid Israeli currency regulations, and profits will be taxed at considerably higher rates than before June 4. The economic setback has led growing numbers of Palestinians to take advantage of the new freedom given by Israel to travel out of the Strip and to leave for good if they so desire.

Gaza remains the center of zealous Palestine Arab consciousness and strong pro-Nasser sentiment. Since its population is very dense and very ardent in their fervor to redeem the homeland, Israel's defense authorities are interested in breaking up the refugee concentrations there. Recent reports are that several thousand Palestinians are to be transferred from Gaza to abandoned refugee camps and towns on the West Bank. Indeed, a first stream of Gaza residents has begun to cross the Jordan, adding to the number of West-Bank refugees now in the Hashimite Kingdom. Although the Israeli government has not announced its plans for the Strip, it has declared that Gaza was never part of Egypt and will never again be returned to Egyptian control. Its experience since 1956 has made it determined to prevent Gaza from again becoming a corridor through which an enemy could penetrate deep into Israel's vital coastal strip.

The policy adopted toward the Gaza Strip is gradually being extended to the Sinai Peninsula. Israel has not made any claim to Sinai, but there has been an increasing number of non-official statements that Sinai never was really an integral part of Egypt. Nor has the lack of an official policy deterred Israeli scientists and engineers from making surveys of the mineral resources of the area or prevented the government from exploiting its petroleum fields. Other than some 100,000 Bedouin, the only substantial population in the peninsula lived in East Kantara on the Suez Canal and in el-Arish, both now Israeli military outposts. Most of the Egyptian population in these towns was evacuated and their homes and streets are now deserted.

Of the three countries which lost land in the June war, Syria suffered the least. However, the loss of the Golan Heights created a large new Syrian Arab refugee problem. Estimates are that 80,000 to 100,000 Syrian Arabs fled to Damascus and other Syrian towns during the fighting, leaving behind fewer than 7,000 inhabitants, mostly Druze villagers. Syria's loss of the Jordan Valley headwaters is a serious blow to Arab plans to disrupt Israel's development by diverting waters for Arab use. The Arab League's scheme has been spoiled, Israel has gained control over substantially more water than it had before and it now is drafting plans to channel water from the Hasbani and Banias Rivers into an irrigation system of its own design.

II

Military strategy is the dominant consideration in shaping Israeli policy toward the occupied territories. The new borders give Israel every strategic advantage its military leaders ever sought. For the first time in the history of Zionist establishment in Palestine there are only a handful of Jewish settlements which can be directly threatened by an organized Arab armed force. Paradoxically, too, the territorial expansion has shortened the borders. The Gaza Strip has been eliminated as a military threat to central Israel, and the military frontier with Egypt has been shortened by several hundred kilometers to the relatively short and easily defensible east bank of the Suez Canal.

Israeli army chiefs considered the frontier with Jordan as the most sensitive area in any possible military confrontation. The two countries faced each other across 330 miles of border adjoining the most heavily populated Jewish cities, towns and agricultural settlements. The Jordanian army outposts at Kalkilya were only a few minutes' tank ride from Natanya (midway between Haifa and Tel Aviv), which military observers considered to be Israel's most vulnerable spot. For 20 years, Jewish Jerusalem, the country's third most populous urban center, had been under threat of bombardment if not seizure. Now Jordan's military frontier has been pushed back across the river, where it is dozens of miles from most Israeli settlements. In the south, the Negev Desert separates Jordanian armed forces from Israeli population centers.

In the north, Syrian guns on the Golan Heights have been spiked or turned eastward, toward Damascus. The labyrinth of former Syrian fortresses and tunnels is in Israeli hands. Kuneitra, once a city of 20,000 people and the command post of Syria's southern armies, was abandoned by Syria and ransacked by Israel. Only one or two hundred bedraggled survivors remain there. For the first time since they were established, Jewish settlements from Lake Tiberias to Lebanon feel secure.

Although military strategy outweighs other factors, custom and emotion have become increasingly significant in Israeli policy toward the occupied areas. The longer oil from the Sinai is used, the more difficult it becomes to give it up. The more integrated Israel's economy becomes with Gaza and the West Bank, the more difficult it is to sever the new commercial, agricultural and trade links. And the more Israeli tourists visit biblical sites, such as Rachel's tomb in Bethlehem and the tomb of Abraham in Hebron, the more painful becomes the thought of their surrender.

Before June 4 only the Herut wing of the Gahal party made acquisition of territory beyond the 1949 armistice frontiers part of its ideology and dogma. Now, only the Arab Communists and Mapam, a leftist-oriented party in the coalition government, have taken a stand against retention of some occupied regions. Although Mapam's six-point peace proposal includes the return to Jordan of most of the West Bank, its leaders demand that all Jerusalem, Gaza and the ridges of the Golan Heights become part of Israel. Mapai, the kingpin in the coalition, has not made public its official policy regarding the refugees, the new territories or their populations, and its members are divided in sympathy between a "winner-keep-all" approach and a modified version of the Mapam program. Other political party leaders and most of the press have called for some form of annexation or federation on a larger or smaller scale.

The Israeli Government and the military occupation authorities, by assuming a wide variety of responsibilities in the new territories, have indicated that the occupation will not be short. In Jerusalem, the Jordanian educational, judicial and administrative systems have been uprooted and replaced. This has not occurred without friction. Israeli authorities point out, however, that their object was not to avoid friction but to "integrate" east Jerusalem (the term "annexation" has been studiously avoided). Arabs who cannot accept "integration" are invited to leave; those who passively resist are warned and closely watched; active opponents are removed or otherwise forcibly apprehended.

The former Arab mayor and several municipal councilmen of Jordanian Jerusalem were invited to participate in a greater Jerusalem town council with a large Jewish majority. There is disagreement between Israeli officials, who assert the invitation was made in good faith, and Arab leaders, who charge it was a deception to obtain Arab acquiescence to Israeli domination. In the meantime, all municipal services have been taken over by Israeli officials although several hundred minor Arab employees remain in their posts. Nearly all barriers thrown up during the past twenty years have been removed so that it becomes increasingly difficult to locate demarcation lines between the former Israeli and Jordanian cities. The international élan that existed in Jerusalem before the 1948 partition is rapidly being restored. As the two parts of the city become fused, to separate them will be difficult if it is not already impossible.

The new freedom of the city is not valued equally by all Jerusalem Arabs. Many merchants have welcomed the influx of Jewish tourists, but former Arab municipal leaders, Jordanian government officials and high-ranking clerks, the Muslim hierarchy and other Arab notables still regard themselves as Jordanians, not Israelis. Despite the humanitarian attitudes and good will of some Israeli officials, the hasty decisions on important issues taken by Israeli municipal, central government and military authorities alienated many Arabs. They considered projects to "modernize" or "improve" parts of Arab Old Jerusalem more callous than efficient-for instance, the overnight decision to create a great plaza before the Wailing Wall. This meant displacing some two hundred Arab families, who were given only a few hours' notice before being forced to evacuate their houses. Many could find no new homes and became refugees on the east bank, while others found refuge in makeshift shelters provided by UNRWA.

Problems created by the great disparities between Jordanian and Israeli economic and administrative systems were less immediately pressing but nevertheless disconcerting. Wages, taxes and the cost of living are far higher in Israel than in Jordanian Jerusalem or than in the other occupied territories. Taxpayers in east Jerusalem have been assured that the application of Israeli rates will be gradual and merciful, but sooner or later the Arabs of east Jerusalem will have to contribute a far larger share of their income to their new government. Authorities in Israeli Jerusalem and the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor) have taken steps to balance the substantial wage differences between Arab and Jewish Jerusalem.

All Arab education in the new territories and east Jerusalem is now supervised by the Arab department of the Israeli Ministry of Education, and much tension has resulted. In east Jerusalem the former Jordanian system has been replaced by that used in Arab areas of Israel. This involved reorganizing the whole structure of education, including curricula, texts and forms of administration. Jordanian textbooks were replaced by those produced in Israel and references regarded as derogatory to Israel, Zionism and Jews were eliminated. Many Arab teachers and intellectuals insist that the Israelis are seeking to wipe out Arab national consciousness. Israeli educationalists assert that education throughout the Arab world has had a "fascist outlook" which sought to "militarize" Arab youth. They insist that the time has come to rectify the educational mistakes which led Arab youth into hatred and self-delusion about the realities of life in the Middle East. They maintain that only a unified educational system can smooth the process of integration between Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem.

Among the million Arabs who fell under Israel's control in June there are many former cabinet ministers, ambassadors, judges and other high Jordanian government officials as well as physicians, lawyers and engineers. While many refuse to accept the consequences of the Arab defeat, a few recognize that there can be no return to the prewar status quo. This does not necessarily mean that they are willing to become collaborators with Israel. However, some Arab leaders see possibilities of coöperating on a basis of equality in the economic revival of the occupied territories, and Arab experiences in Jerusalem are considered to be a test of such possibilities.

Day-to-day policy for the occupied territories other than Jerusalem is determined by the three military governors for the West Bank, the Golan Heights and Gaza and Sinai, each of whom has assumed the authority and responsibility for his area formerly exercised by the Jordanian, Syrian and Egyptian governments. Official ordinances for the West Bank are now issued in the name of Israel's General Narkiss instead of King Hussein; and West- Bank law courts issue their judgements in the name of "justice" rather than in the name of the King. Within each of the military governates, local military governors, who are Israeli army officers, are responsible for the cities, towns and rural districts.

III

The fundamental principle underlying Israeli policy is the restoration of local Arab administration. Mayors, municipal officials and judges have been requested to continue their functions under supervision of the military governors. Substantial numbers of former Jordanian officials remained in their posts, but many have become inactive or resigned in protest against the occupation authorities. In both Gaza and the West Bank differences over education similar to those in Jerusalem create friction. Prior to school- opening last fall, nearly half the old textbooks were purged. The Israeli Ministry of Education found objectionable passages in nearly everything, including mathematics, science, grammar and religion. Thousands of Arab students and hundreds of teachers protested by boycotting government schools. In some towns, schools remained closed for months; in others, the protest strike gradually flickered out. The military government, reasoning that the Arab community itself would be the only victim of the protest, refrained from trying to open the schools by force.

Military policy toward the occupied regions differs from that in Sinai and Gaza during 1956-57. Instead of destroying roads and military installations, the army is improving and extending vital arteries. Definite encouragement is given to Israeli civilian government workers attached to the army to develop and improve agriculture, to modify crop patterns so that they will complement those of Israel, to explore and where possible utilize mineral resources, and to "modernize" government services in social welfare, health and sanitation. Israeli post offices using Israeli stamps have been opened in many of the major occupied towns and villages. Jordanian, Egyptian and Syrian army and police posts have been incorporated into Israel's security system. If the Israeli Government should ever seriously consider evacuating occupied territory, it would face a complicated task in dismantling the new installations. The speed with which these areas were acquired is no longer a measure of how quickly they could be peacefully evacuated.

The military have not become directly involved in the great debate about the future of the occupied territories. Long-range planning is left to government civilians, and to deal with the subject the Prime Minister's office has established a bewildering number and variety of committees. There are committees of ministers, directors-general of ministries, university professors and specialists such as agronomists, urban planners, statisticians, demographers, agriculturists, hydrologists and engineers. One group of committees deals with political, another with economic plans. General economic surveys have covered possibilities for future development of the occupied territories within a variety of political contexts including, on the one hand, the return of the West Bank and Sinai to Arab control, or, on the other, their full integration within the framework of the Israeli economy. The economic and social implications for Israelis and for the Arab inhabitants are considered in each possibility. Microeconomic planning takes place within small committees of technicians who survey possibilities of rural resettlement, urban housing and development of infrastructure. Plans for refugee resettlement in Israeli-held territory are considered within the context of regional economic development along the lines of the broad scheme discussed by former U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold.

One theoretical scheme for refugee resettlement, called "Model A," envisages rehabilitation of 2,000 Palestinian families, two-thirds in farming and one-third in other rural services. Former Jordanian state lands would be utilized and irrigation would be introduced. Details such as the number of land parcels per family, types of irrigation and crops, probable crop yields and income, estimated increase in production over the next decade, and potential markets are projected. As a preliminary, two anthropological studies were made in refugee camps to determine how Palestine Arabs might adapt to "Model A."

None of the nearly 200 planners involved in these committees is Arab because Israeli officials believe it is "too early" for Arab involvement. They assert that, when the broad outlines of their plans have been drawn up and the government is ready to implement them, Arab participation will be invited.

Israeli plans for refugee resettlement in the occupied territory have made its relations with UNWRA quite delicate since the international agency will be directly involved in any matters related to the displaced Palestinians. Although UNRWA has been permitted to continue operations in Gaza and the West Bank, the Israeli press and many government officials have not disguised their mistrust of it. They charge that most of its 11,500 employees are Palestinians who deeply resent, if they do not hate, the Jewish State. The walls of many UNRWA schools are still decorated with maps and slogans calling for "return to the Arab homeland,"

Israeli and UNRWA officials disagree over even such fundamentals as the number of refugees. UNRWA estimates of the refugee population have been sharply criticized in Israel ever since the agency was first established. Israelis charge that Jordan's refusal to permit UNRWA to count its refugees resulted in the agency's ration rolls being greatly inflated. In September a census conducted by the Israeli Government showed that the number of refugees in the occupied regions was 40 to 50 percent below the UNRWA estimate.

Israelis regard UNRWA's operations and its very existence as obstacles to Israel's plans for the occupied areas. Since the solution of the refugee problem is seen as part of their larger scheme for economic rehabilitation, they contend that it cannot continue to be treated in isolation from the problems involved in the total development of the occupied areas. Integration and rehabilitation will replace refugee relief. Then, according to Israeli planners, UNRWA services will no longer be necessary in Gaza and the West Bank. What if parts of the West Bank should be returned to Jordan? Any rehabilitation plans already made or implemented will not have been wasted effort. If refugees are resettled and the general economy improved in areas returned to Arab control, the whole region, including Israel, will benefit since there will be fewer refugees.

Although the United States Government has not been directly involved in drafting these blueprints for the future of the occupied areas, they are of more than academic interest to Americans. The Israelis who have been drafting them estimate that the cost of implementation might reach more than $100 million a year over a ten-year period, and they are hoping to raise a substantial part of this sum from the U.S. Government. Their calculations are based on the fact that approximately 70 percent of UNRWA's annual budget is now provided by the United States. By removing West Bank and Gaza refugees from UNRWA care, the costs of maintaining the agency would be cut in half, saving the U.S. Government approximately $12 to $15 million a year; this could be applied to rehabilitation of the occupied areas. The Israelis argue that by shifting its contribution from UNRWA to the Israeli rehabilitation plan, the United States would contribute to a solution of the refugee problem rather than to its indefinite perpetuation.

To succeed, these plans must have more than passive acceptance from the Arab population. If there is active resistance, or if the plans are sabotaged by guerrilla warfare, they will probably remain mere blueprints. Active Arab coöperation in developing the Israeli plans should be a prerequisite for American support. Unless plans are accepted by the Arabs who live in the occupied regions and by the refugees who will be the subjects of Israeli pilot projects, American policy-makers will find difficulty in regarding them as anything more than an academic exercise.

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