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This report was one of a series generated by the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, established under UN General Assembly Resolution 194, at the conclusion of 1948 War (The Israel War of Independence). This version includes both the main report published in September of 1950, and a supplement issued in October.
Its discussion of borders is of mostly historical interest. However, its discussion of the Palestine refugee issue shows the real "Birth of the Palestine Refugee Problem" as it evolved immediately following the war, and as it has remained until the present time, with all of its current characteristics. The report does not mention Jewish refugees displaced from their homes in Palestine, such as the Jews of the old city of Jerusalem, though Resolution 194 had referred only to "refugees," without specification of their ethnic or religious classification. Likewise, it ignored the flow of Jewish refugees from Arab countries, which was considerable by this time. The Palestine refugee problem became and remained, as far as the international community was concerned, exclusively a problem of Arab refugees, even though the total number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries eventually exceeded the Arab total.
The Arab side had already become set in its view that the refugee problem can only be resolved by returning all Arab refugees to Israel. The Israeli side advanced the its claim that such return was impossible. The position of the UN commission was ambiguous, as summed up in this paragraph:
The number of Arab refugees is estimated differently in various reports. This estimate, which might be "definitive" as far as the UN is concerned, puts the number at 711,000, a figure which is hardly ever mentioned for some reason. The bases for the estimate are not known and not stated. The report notes:
It should be noted that two years had elapsed since the conclusion of hostilities. As the birthrate of Palestinian Arabs was about 2.7% to 3.0% per annum, the date at which the estimate was made would make a considerable difference.
The phrase "persons who, although not displaced, are destitute" is peculiar. In a situation such as the aftermath of World War II, it might apply, since there was enormous internal destruction of homes and property. In Palestine or Israel, however, as far as is known, no Israeli Arabs applied for refugee status. Therefore, the "refugees" who are not displaced but destitute must have come from other areas of the Palestine mandate or from neighboring Arab countries. They had no claims on lands in Israel and should not be included in a discussion of the refugee problem.
The estimate of 711,000 is problematic. An earlier UN conciliation commission report had provided tables of the British Blue Book vilstat statistics for 1945 Arab population of the areas occupied by Israel in 1949. According to those figures, there were 726,800 non-Jews in Palestine living in those areas as of April 1945. Those figures were probably an over-estimate, in the light of the subsequent estimate of the Anglo-American commission for 1946 population. As there were 156,000 non-Jews remaining in Israel in 1948, it is almost impossible to conclude that there could have been 711,000 refugees, which would require a population growth of about 20% in 3 years. Moreover, the UN criterion for "refugee" was anyone who had been in the areas of Palestine occupied by Israel two years prior to the outbreak of hostilities. This could and did include itinerant laborers, and persons who had left the area of their own free will because of the rising violence, even before the partition decision, and who had not lost any property.
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