What Arab plans can be inferred from three classes of sources: (1) Pre-war statements to the Arab population with promises that all would share in the booty of Jewish property won by the Arab Legion armies, (2) changes in Ottoman land ownership laws following Jordan's annexation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem Here are some statements from Arab books and journals of statements made before the war or shortly thereafter by Arab leaders:
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Said: "We will smash the country with our guns and obliterate every place the Jews seek shelter in. The Arabs should conduct their wives and children to safe areas until the fighting has died down." From Sir Am Nakbah (The Secret Behind the Disaster), Nimr el-Hawari, Nazareth, 1952.
Habib Issa, Secretary-General of the Arab League, successor to Azzam Pasha: "Azzam Pasha assured the Arab peoples that the occupation of Palestine and of Tel Aviv would be as simple as a military promenade...and that all the millions the Jews had spent on land and economic development would be easy booty, for it would be a simple matter to throw Jews into the Mediterranean...." From Al Hoda, June 8, 1951.
Independent observers note that most Arab refugees left either on the orders of the Arab League or panic:
"As early as the first months of 1948, the Arab League issued orders exhorting the people to seek a temporary refuge in neighboring countries, later to return to their abodes ... and obtain their share of abandoned Jewish property." Bulletin of The Research Group for European Migration Problems, 1957.
"The Arab states succeeded in scattering the Palestinian people and in destroying their unity. They did not recognize them as a unified people until the states of the world did so, and this is regrettable." Abu Mazen from the official journal of the PLO, Falastin el Thawra (What We Have Learned and What We Should Do), Beirut, March 1976.
"The mass evacuation, prompted partly by fear, partly by order of Arab leaders, left the Arab quarter of Haifa a ghost city....By withdrawing Arab workers their leaders hoped to paralyze Haifa." Time Magazine, May 3, 1948.
"The [Arabs of Haifa] fled in spite of the fact that the Jewish authorities guaranteed their safety and rights as citizens of Israel." Monsignor George Hakim, Greek Catholic Bishop of Galilee, New York Herald Tribune, June 30, 1949.
What happened to Jews and Jewish property in the Jordanian-occupied West Bank and sections of Jerusalem is also revealing.
Under ancient Islamic law, peasant farmers could perpetually live on land that they held no title provided they worked that land. The real owners, however, were free to sell their property to others subject to the peasants tenancy rights. See Tilson, J.J., "Ottoman Land Registration Law as a Contributing Factor in the Israeli-Arab Conflict." The Ottomon Empire, which controlled Palestine during the 19th century and until the end of World War I, passed the Ottoman Land Code of 1858 required that land owners register their land. This changed the facts on the ground as tenant farmers discovered that not only did they not own the land they and their ancestors had farmed, they could be evicted from the land. "The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict," Jews for Justice in the Middle East (Berkeley, Calif. 2001) (available on-line here). So when the Zionist push began in the early 20th century, absentee owners of Palestinian land sold it, perfectly legally, to Jewish investors seeking to establish the Yishuv. Ibid. After World War I, the United Kingdom recognized this issue as a sore point in Arab-Jewish relations and sought to limit Jewish land purchases to west of the Jordan River only. Ibid.
After the 1948 war, Jordan annexed the West Bank and established its own land laws, giving Arab tenant farmers title to land their families had farmed plus vast acres of adjacent lands which would would have been state property under Ottoman law. Dann, M. "Legal Confusion: Why Does Israel Accept Jordanian Law?", Jerusalem Post, Mar. 26, 2014. Moreover, Jordan made it a capital crime for any landowner, Christian or Moslem, to sell his land to a Jew. Ibid.
Also following the 1948 war, Jordan occupied East Jerusalem, including the Old City, which had been the home for Jews since the Crusades or before. The Jewish residents were evicted from their homes, their homes confiscated, and their synagogues destroyed. The Jordanian commander is reported to have told his superiors: "For the first time in 1,000 years not a single Jew remains in the Jewish Quarter. Not a single building remains intact. This makes the Jews' return here impossible." Fernea, Elizabeth W., "The Struggle for Peace: Israelis and Palestinians," Univ. of Texas Press 1992, p. 53. The Hurva Synagogue, originally built in 1701, was blown up by the Jordanian Arab Legion. During the nineteen years of Jordanian rule, a third of the Jewish Quarter's buildings were demolished. Fisk, Robert (September 30, 2000). "Bloodbath at the Dome of the Rock," The Independent. (A total of 31 of the Old City's 32 synagogues were destroyed.) A replica of the Hurva synagogue was only rebuilt by Israel in the last two years.
From these statements and facts we can see that the Arab League's boast that they intended to evict Jews from Palestine and to prevent their return was sincere.