The Israel-advocacy website CAMERA claims the following.

Arabs who lost property in Israel are eligible to file for compensation from Israel’s Custodian of Absentee Property. As of the end of 1993, a total of 14,692 claims had been filed, claims had been settled with respect to more than 200,000 dunums of land, more than 10,000,000 NIS (New Israeli Sheckels) had been paid in compensation, and more than 54,000 dunums of replacement land had been given in compensation. Israel has followed this generous policy despite the fact that not a single penny of compensation has ever been paid to any of the more than 500,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries, who were forced by the Arab governments to abandon their homes, businesses and savings.

However, no source is cited for this, and I can't find a primary source. Is it correct?

  • 4
    It might be interesting (or not) to know that 10 million shekels are (nowadays) roughly 3 million $. A dunum is according to wikipedia 1,000m² (there are different definitions in different countries but I take those for British Mandate for Palestine after 1928). If I'm not mistaken 150,000 dunum make then around 2 US-cents of compensation for each m². Even if we multiply the price by 50, the term "generous policy" seems a bit exaggerated. If there is a mistake in my computation it would be good to correct me.
    – KlausN
    Commented Feb 15 at 12:54
  • 2
    This website buyapieceofisrael.com/agriculture-yavniel is selling a dunam of farmland in northern Israel for 40,000$ (but you have to lease it back to them, so probably the proper price would be much higher), on this website israel-properties.com the price of farmland seems to be around 100$/m².
    – KlausN
    Commented Feb 15 at 13:03
  • 2
    @KlausN A previous comment made the same calculation and got the same result as you. It was deleted, I don't know why.
    – Avery
    Commented Feb 16 at 22:04

1 Answer 1


There is a hint of an answer in your quotation, which is here:

more than 54,000 dunums of replacement land had been given in compensation

Obviously Israel has not given any of its own land to the Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza. Actually, CAMERA is talking about land given to Arab Israelis, those who did not flee in 1948, which makes the complaint about the expelled Jewish refugees in Arab countries quite specious.

According to the Palestine Land Society,

Israel also initiated a settlement of title plan by which the state agreed to recognize Palestinian ownership if the owner agreed to forfeit 50 percent of his property to the state, 30 percent be compensated for a pittance and with the owner allowed to keep the remaining 20 percent. There were few takers.

Another publication by this group provides general details about why anyone would take such a bad deal. The Arab Israelis remained present after the 1948 war, but their land was seized along with the land of other Palestinians under the legal logic that the landowners had become "absentees". Because the Arab Israelis were not actually absent but their land had fallen into the hands of Israeli armies, they were described as "Present Absentees" and their farmlands were deemed "closed areas". If they wanted to continue farming, they were forced to take the deal where they received 20% of it and were compensated at some unknown rate for the remaining 30%. Of course, the Palestinians who became refugees were given nothing at all, and the article describes the method by which Israel slowly deprived them of compensation for their land and property -- part of the region was declared terra nullius.

There were additionally larger payouts made to British and American land holders; I don't know if this is included in the figure of 10,000,000 shekels.

  • 3
    "why anyone would take such a bad deal" is really downplaying the situation. The other deal was death: the Tantura massacre proved that. They even tried surrendering, and the massacre happened after surrendering. Paying 20% was only slightly preferred to genocide. And the battalion responsible for the Tantura massacre will likely be leading the charge into Lebanon soon. Commented Feb 16 at 20:58
  • This is a good answer but do you have a source for the terra nullius claim? Afaik, the doctrine has never been applied to Palestine/Israel. The claim that it once was applied is somewhat of a factoid. Commented Mar 3 at 16:48
  • @StandwithGaza According to the two links, Beer Sheba was deemed entirely "mawat" under Ottoman law despite written counterevidence to this
    – Avery
    Commented Mar 3 at 18:20

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