Landmark Resolutions on Middle East Refugees Introduced in the US Senate and the House of Representatives

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In an important initiative, four Senators and four Congressmen, representing both political parties, have introduced landmark Resolutions on Middle East refugees in the United States Senate and in the House of Representatives.

In an important, unprecedented initiative, four Senators and four Congressmen, representing both political parties, have introduced landmark Resolutions on Middle East refugees in the United States Senate and in the House of Representatives.

These far-reaching Resolutions urge the President to ensure that in all international forums, when the issue of ‘Middle East refugees is discussed, representatives of the United States should ensure: “That any explicit reference to Palestinian refugees is matched by a similar explicit reference to Jewish and other refugees, as a matter of law and equity.”

The Resolutions will be the strongest declarations adopted by the U.S.Congress, acknowledging the rights of Jewish and others refugees that were forced to flee Arab countries.

This bi-partisan effort is being spearheaded by Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). On the House side, supporters include Congressmen Tom Lantos (D-CA) , Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Michael Ferguson (R-NJ).

Currently, when the issue of refugees is raised within the context of the Middle East at the United Nations or elsewhere, the reference is only to Palestinian refugees, not former Jewish refugees from Arab countries. However, there were two major population movements that occurred during years of Middle East turmoil – Arabs and Jews. Both groups were determined to be bona fide refugees under international law. In fact, there were more former Jewish refugees uprooted from Arab countries (over 850,000) than there were Palestinians who became refugees in 1948. (UN estimate: 726,000)

“For any Middle East peace to be durable and enduring, it must address all outstanding issues, including the legitimate rights of all victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This resolution puts this critical issue on the international agenda,” said Senator Richard Durbin.

Congressman Tom Lantos stated: “Compensation for refugees displaced by wars in the Middle East and their aftermath has long been a cornerstone of Middle East peace-making. This principle must apply to all refugees, Jewish as well as Palestinian. Two U.S. Presidents -- Carter and Clinton -- have recognized and courageously insisted on this principle. It is time for the international community to do so as well.”

“It would be constitute an injustice were the United States to recognize rights for one victim population - Palestinian refugees - without recognizing equal rights former Jewish refugees from Arab countries” said S. Daniel Abraham, Founding Chairman of Justice for Jews from Arab countries. “Both were victims of the very same Middle East conflict and the rights of Jewish refugees must be addressed”.

There will be a telephone conference call for the media on Tuesday, May 30, 2006 3:00pm EST. Some of the Resolution's co-sponsors will be on the line to make a statement and to answer questions. Media that would like to particpate with the Congressional staff on the telephone conference should call Mr. Shelomo Alfassa at 973-669-9788 to confirm.

Editor's note: Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC) is a coalition of Jewish communal organizations operating under the auspices of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the American Sephardi Federation and the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries in partnership with the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation League, B’nai Brith International, the Jewish Public Council for Public Affairs and the World Sephardic Congress.

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