Libyan President Col. Muammar Gaddafi on Tuesday became the first Arab leader to promise compensation for Jews who were forced to leave their homes due to religious tension.
"Any Jew whose home had been taken away has to be compensated or given his home back on the condition that he had not taken away the home of a Palestinian in Palestine," Reuters cited the Libyan leader as saying.
Thousands of Jews were forced to leave their homes in various Arab countries, including Libya, following successive Israeli-Arab wars since the year 1948. However, Arab leaders dismissed or ignored Jewish claims for compensations for lost assets.
Earlier this year, it was reported that exiled Jews were launching a multi-million dollar compensation claim for property seized in Libya after Gaddafi hinted that he would consider making payments.
The case was reportedly assembled by the Israel-based Organisation for Libyan Jews and the country's justice ministry. Libyan Jewish leaders claimed that the confiscated homes, businesses, synagogues, cemeteries and community buildings are worth well in excess of $150 million.
Jews also owned large tracts of land which are estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars.
Libya's Jews formed one of the world's oldest Jewish communities. By 1941, Jews accounted for a quarter of Tripoli's population, maintaining 44 synagogues before the German invasion. Between 1949 and 1951, however, more than 30,000 Jews left, mostly for Israel. By the time Gaddafi launched the coup that brought him to power in 1969, just 500 Jews remained in Libya.
He subsequently confiscated all Jewish property and cancelled all debts owed to Jews. By 1974, there were no more than 20 Jews left, and the last survivor was reported to have died in 2002. (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )