The claims refer to property and other belongings that were left behind at the country of origin. Seetrit explains that "we are talking about hundreds of thousands of claims that could be used as a balance to the claims of Palestinian refugees asking to return to Israel."
During his first stint as justice minister, Seetrit established a special committee within the ministry designed to build a database for the documentation of the public and private legacies and properties of Jews who left Arab countries and to record the culture and heritage of Jews in those countries.
'They still live in refugee camps'
Upon his return to the post as the acting justice minister, Seetrit reintroduced the committee and was even able to raise the necessary budget for its operation. Seetrit emphasized the importance of these actions at this time saying that "If the State of Israel will not work on this project, it will never happen. If we wait for years, Israel may find itself in a position where the task cannot be completed."
Seetrit explained that "the Palestinians are using the refugees as ammunition against Israel. When the time will ripen for peace talks, Israel could present this data as a balancing factor to the claims of the Palestinians."
According to him, "about 600,000 Jews left Arab countries, where the vast majority of them arrived in Israel, a country which absorbed
Minister Sheetrit appointed Jean-Claude Nidam to head the effort of documenting the properties of Jews who left Arab countries who live in Israel and abroad. The effort will be assisted by more than 60 Jewish communities around the world which have already announced their participation in the campaign.