The Israeli seizure of Palestine is the biggest planned and organized plunder in history. Before we give it a monetary value, a word of caution is in order. The loss of a homeland and the suffering of a people defies any monetary measure. For the purpose of economic valuation, a comprehensive study was undertaken by the Palestine land expert, Hadawi (1988), assisted by the economist Kubrusi. He estimated the total value of mobile and immobile property to be £ 743.050 million, or US $ 2,994.50 million (1948 value). This figure is close to the estimate of the distinguished economist Yousef Sayigh and about half that of the Arab Higher Committee, but much higher than the estimate of the ill-fated Conciliation Commission. Adding human capital losses, the figure rises to -1,182.2 million. In US dollar terms (at 1£=$ 4.03 in 1948), and using the dollar inflation rate between 1948 and 1998, the total amount is $ 559.3 billion.
But this is only a portion of the compensation due according to international law. The basic principle of compensation is to make good as stated clearly in Resolution 194, or in general terms: as far as possible, wipe out all the consequences of the illegal act and re-establish the situation which would, in all probability, have existed if that act had not been committed (Quigley, p.209). This is the same principle (Wiedergutmachung) under which the German Federal Government paid the Jews DM 102 billion for Nazi crimes.
The entitlement to compensation is derived from international law dealing with war crimes and from Resolution-194 which relies on international law or equity. War crimes are excluded from Resolution-194 (see A/AC.25/W.81/Rev.2/annex ll, p.6) since these crimes are well-regulated by international law beginning with the World War II trials and concluding now with establishment of the International Criminal Court under Rome Statute of 1998.
Compensation, other than for war crimes, can be summarized in the following categories (Hadawi and Kubursi, 1988):
- Individual material assets, such as land, property and business.
- Public material assets, such as natural resources and services.
- Individual non-material assets, such as personal and family security.
- Public non-material assets, such as identity, culture, holy places.
Most of the published research was concerned with individual material assets. Table-9 is an attempt, based on Hadawi and Kubursi, to identify the various components of compensation.
It is to be noted that monetary values estimated in Table 9, if used for compensation, should be reduced by the value of land and homes which should be restored to their owners, upon exercising the Right of Return. Homeland is not for sale.