The moral responsibility of the USA Role

Within six weeks of signing the Lausanne Protocol and being admitted into the UN, Israel also renewed its refusal to let the refugees return to their homes. The Conciliation Commission reported:

The Arab delegations continue to hold the view that the first step must be acceptance by the Government of Israel of the principle set forth in the resolution of 11 December 1948 concerning the repatriation of refugees who wish to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors. The Commission has not succeeded in achieving the acceptance of this principle by the Government of Israel. (UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine, Third Progress Report (for 9 April through 8 June 1949) 6.21.1949 (A/927) p.3)

On August 12, 1949, delegates of seventeen nations signed four Geneva Conventions, including the Fourth Convention relative to protecting civilians in time of war. (Cf. Appendix Two.) Within six months sixty-one nations had signed the conventions. On October 21, 1950, they became a part of positive international law. By early 1956, fifty two nations, including America and Israel, had either ratified or acceded to them. (Jean S. Pictet,  ed. Commentary IV Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, pp.3-9)

On April 24, 1950, Abdullah's parliament followed his instructions that it formally ratify his December l, 1948, proclamation annexing West Bank, including East Jerusalem, to Jordan.

Shortly after its declaration of statehood, the government of Israel passed a development authority law. According to the Israel Yearbook, 1950/51, it specifically authorized the Jewish National Fund (JNF) "to acquire abandoned Arab land on a large scale." (S. Tolkowsky, ed., The Israel Yearbook, 1950/51, p.291) This land was not truly abandoned; the Arab owners had either fled or been driven off and then kept at gunpoint from returning. The Yearbook article indicated that largely because of that law, the JNF had acquired well over 405 square miles of land just since statehood, and was in the process of acquiring another 386 square miles of "abandoned land," a total of more than 791 square miles.

The Yearbook added the significant phrase, "With the path to land acquisition cleared....”( Same sources) that is, the owners had been frightened or driven off and the government had set up the legal machinery to confiscate the land. With the land, Israel also acquired thousands of Arab homes which the IDF had not blown up or bull-dozed. Israel was thus able to provide this ready housing to many of the 400,000 or so Jews who entered Israel during the first two years after statehood (Bachi, “preface to Statistical Abstract, State of Israel, Government Yearbook 1950, p.323) without the great expense of building homes.

The US. government knew Israel was confiscating properties but continued to support it against the properties' owners, Arab Palestinians. It is hard to see how the Israeli acts were anything but outright thefts, at least in the meaning of objective, not subjec-tive, morality, despite Israeli claims that the properties were "abandoned" and that the takeovers were the lands' "redemption." It is hard to see how America's actions were not cooperation in such thefts. For America aided and abetted them by protecting Israel in the UN and by its financial support, which were also signs of approval and practical aid in maintaining such thefts.

Israel, at least until August 1995, refused to either return the lands or otherwise make restitution. The moral obligation therefore seems to fall on America, as Israel's principal accomplice, either to persuade Israel to make full restitution or, failing that, to make restitution itself. The probability that America has gained nothing from its participation in such thefts does not change this. To argue against this position seems to require either
(a) that Israel's takeover of Arab land without payment was not theft, at least in a moral sense,
or (b) that America's actions did not make it an accomplice even in a moral sense,

or (c) that nations do not have the same moral obligation to restitution that individuals have.

During the U.S. government's Fiscal Year 1951, which began July 1,1950, it sent $100,000 in economic grant aid to Israel? Thus began annual U.S. grants and/or loans, plus other aid, totaling some $60 billion, some of which has been repaid.