This study examines the United Nations' efforts to effect Palestinian refugee compensation through its lead agency for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP), from 1949 to 1966. It highlights the progressive shrinking of the UNCCP's role from overall conciliation to bringing about agreement on compensation to a tertiary status conducting technical studies. Examining in particular the ambitious twelve-year program for identifying and evaluating refugee property carried out by the UNCCP's Technical Office, the author details the vast land records used and generated by that office and publishes for the first time compensation estimates buried in the archives. In analyzing the reasons for UNCCP's ultimate failure in realizing its mission, the author highlights first and foremost the negative impact of the United States's undeclared but strict "red lines" for resolving the crisis.
Michael R. Fischbach, associate professor of history at Randolph-Macon College, is author of State, Society, and Land in Jordan and has just completed Palestinian Refugee Property and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. He would like to acknowledge the financial support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation through a research and writing grant, of Randolph-Macon College through a Rashkind Endowment Grant, and of the Institute for Palestine Studies.