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Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem

CHAPTER THREE
THE OWNERSHIP OF CAPITAL IN PALESTINE

The Government of Palestine did not inventory the national wealth in Palestine. However, the Department of Statistics prepared certain estimates of the shares of Arabs and Jews in the national wealth of the country. These estimates did not include figures for urban building and lands or village buildings. The estimates prepared for the value of land, industrial establishments, livestock and commodity stocks are arbitrary, based on values existing before World War 11. Therefore, these estimates can give only a general idea and do not reflect exact values.

In A Survey of Palestine, Prepared in December 1945 and January 1946 for the Information of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, the Palestine Government attempted to provide general estimates. The Government stated:

Palestine must be numbered among those countries which have not attempted to compile estimates of the national wealth. Nevertheless, certain basic information is available and presented below .... in the form of a series of tables in which the main categories of capital are enumerated and the shares of Jews, Arabs and others are indicated .... The estimates do not include any figures for urban land buildings and improvements, nor for public fixed assets.(1)

The Survey of Palestine gives the value of rural lands but states: "These values, although based on values actually ruling pre-war, are completely arbitrary and have been designed to reflect the share of the two groups of the population rather than the aggregate value of the land."(2)

LAND OWNERSHIP IN PALESTINE

The share of Arabs and Jews in land ownership in Palestine was, as of the 1st April, 1943, 24,670,455 dunums owned by Arabs and 1,514,247 dunums owned by Jews. (A dunum is 1,000 square meters. Four dunums equal one acre.) The following table shows the share of Jews and Arabs (including other non-Jews) in the ownership of land in Palestine as at 1 st April, 1943.(3)

Category of land (Fiscal Categories)

Arabs & other non-Jews

Jews

Total

Urban

76,662

70, 111

146,773

Citrus

145,572

141, 188

286,760

Bananas

2,300

1,430

3,730

Rural built-on area

36,85 1

42.330

79, 181

Plantations

1,079,788

95,514

1, 175,302

Cereal land (taxable)

5,503, 183

814, 102

6,3 17,285

Cereal land (not taxable)

900,294

51,049

951,343

Uncultivable

16,925,805

298,523

17,224,328

Total area (in Dunums):

24,670,455

1,5 14,247

26, 184,702

Roads, railways, rivers and lakes

135,803

Total including roads, railways, etc.

26,320,505

Subcommittee 2 of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestine Question stated in its report to the United Nations General Assembly the following:

Closely connected with the distribution of population is the factor of land ownership in the proposed Jewish State. The bulk of the land in the Arab State, as well as in the proposed Jewish State, is owned and possessed by Arabs. This is clear from the following statistics furnished to the Sub-Committee by the United Kingdom representative, showing the respective percentages of Arab and Jewish ownership of land in the various sub-districts of Palestine.(4)

Sub-district

Percentage of Ownership
Arabs & Others

Jews

Safad

68

18

Acre

87

3

Tiberias

51

38

Beisan

44

34

Nazareth

52

28

Hai fa

42

35

Jenin

84

Less than 1

Nablus

76

Less than 1

Tu l karrn

78

17

Ramallah

99

Less than 1

Jerusalem

64

2

Hebron

96

Less than 1

Jaffa

47

39

Ramle

77

14

Gaza

75

4

Beersheba

14

Less than 1

Note: The balance represents waste lands and lands under public ownership, consisting mainly of grazing lands attached to villages.

It will be seen that there is not a single sub-district in which the percentage of Jewish land ownership exceeds 39 percent, and that in nine of the sixteen sub-districts the percentage of Jewish ownership is less than 5 percent.(5)

The Survey of Palestine contained information about the years and number of dunums purchased by Jews from 1920-1945 as follows:(6)

AREAS PURCHASED BY JEWS, 1920-45

Year

Dunums

Area owned before 1920 (estimated)

650,00

1920

1,048

1921

90,785

1922

39,359

1923

17,493

1924

44,765

1925

176, 124

1926

38,978

1927

18,995

1928

21,515

1929

64,517

1930

19,365

1931

18,585

1932

18,893

1933

36,991

1934

62, 114

1935

72,905

1936

18, 146

1937

29,367

1938

27,280

1939

27,973

1940

22,481

1941

14,530

1942

18,810

1943

18,035

1944

8,311

1945 (estimated)

11,000

Total

1,588,365

The Survey of Palestine also provides details of the ownership by Arabs and Jews of the citrus groves. The Arabs owned 127,377 dunums of citrus groves. The Jews owned 120.897.(7)

 


CITRUS GROVES

Arab-owned

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Variety

Class 1 dunums

Class 2 dunums

Class 3 dunums

Total dunums

 

 

 

 

Shamouti orange

84.215

16,369

4,902

105,486

Valencia orange

10,664

1,451

169

12,284

Grapefruit

2,090

216

48

2,354

Lemon

3,671

426

95

4, 192

Other citrus

2,539

497

25

3,061

Total

103, 179

18,959

5,239

127,377

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jewish-owned

 

 

 

 

Variety

Class 1 dunums

Class 2 dunums

Class 3 dunums

Total dunums

Shamouti orange

70,014

13,014

4,790

87,845

Valencia orange

10,214

1,732

1,096

13,042

Grapefruit

9,329

2,436

582

12,347

Lemon

3,367

445

165

3,977

Other citrus

2,629

627

430

3,686

Total

95,580

18,254

7,063

120,897


 

 

Ownership of lands by Jews in the various districts of Palestine was as follows:(8)

LAND IN JEWISH POSSESSION, BY DISTRICTS (IN 1000 DUNUMS)

 


% of Jewish
land in each Sub-District

District and Sub-District
 

Owned
 

Conces-
sions

        Total
            

%
       

Total
 

Owned
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gaza

142,5

64.2

206,7

11.9

1.5

1.O

Beersheba

93,4

64,2

157,6

9.1

1.3

0.7

Gaza

49, 1

-

49, 1

2.8

4.4

4.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lydda

256,2

8,5

264,7

15.3

21.9

21.2

Jaffa

130,9

7, 1

138,0

8.0

41.1

39.0

Ramle

125,3

1,4

126,7

7.3

14.6

14.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jerusalem

46,O

15,O

61,0

3.5

1.4

1.0

Hebron

11,O

-

11,0

0.6

0.5

0.5

Jerusalem

35,O

15,O

50,0

2.9

3.2

2.2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samaria

146.7

5,8

152,5

8.8

4.7

4.5

Tulkarm

142,4

5,8

148,2

8.6

18.8

18.0

Nablus

0, 1

-

0, 1

 

 

 

Jenin

4.2

-

4.2

0.2

0.5

0.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haifa

367,6

39,2

406,8

23.5

39.8

36.0

Haifa

367,6

39,2

406,8

23.5

39.8

36.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Galilee

597,s

43,l

640,9

37.0

22.9

21.3

Nazareth

126,O

-

126,0

7.3

25.3

25.3

Beisan

123.7

1.4

125.1

7.2

34.7

34.3

Tiberias

190.6

0,5

191.1

11.0

43.5

43.4

Acre

25,8

-

25,8

1.5

3.2

3.2

Safad

131,7

41,2

172,9

10.0

24.9

18.9

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Total

1 556,8

175,8

1 732,6

100.0

6.6

5.9

Total (excluding the Negev)

1 463,4

111,6

1 575,0

11.4

10.6

 

 

Figures as at the end of 1944, based on a research work by Messrs. Weitz and Lifshitz on Jewish land in Palestine. Land in Jewish possession at the end of 1945 amounted to 1,778,000 dunums, thereof 1,603,000 dunums by purchase. Non-rural areas comprise towns, suburbs, built on areas in villages and industrial localities (Dead Sea Works, etc.).

The Jewish National Fund made a study of Jewish villages in Israel in 1949 and stated:(9)

Of the entire area of the State of Israel only about 300,000- 400,000 dunams - apart from the desolate rocky area of the southern Negev, at present quite unfit for cultivation - are State Domain which the Israel Government took over from the Mandatory regime. The J.N.F. and private Jewish owners possess under two million dunams. Almost all the rest belongs at law to Arab owners, many of whom have left the country. The fate of these Arabs will be settled when the terms of the peace treaties between Israel and her Arab neighbours are finally drawn up. The J.N.F., however, cannot wait until then to obtain the land it requires for its pressing needs. It is, therefore, acquiring part of the land abandoned by the Arab owners, through the Government of Israel, the sovereign authority in Israel.

Whatever the ultimate fate of the Arabs concerned, it is manifest that their legal right to their land and property in Israel, or to the monetary value of them, will not be waived, nor do the Jews wish to ignore them. Legal conquest of territory is a powerful factor in determining the frontiers and the sovereignty of a state. But conquest by force of arms cannot, in law or in ethics, abrogate the rights of the legal owner to his personal property. The J.N.F., therefore, will pay for the lands it takes over, at a fixed and fair price. The Government will receive the money and in due time will make compensation to the Arabs.

Under this arrangement the J.N.F. will acquire this year one million dunams of land for settlement. The forces of history have given the J.N.F. the opportunity - and the necessity - of acquiring in one year as much land as it acquired in the long period of 47 years of unremitting effort. That is an indication of the practical change which has come about as a result of Israel's independence.

Within the first 10 months of the establishment of Israel 51 new villages have been established on J.N.F. land. In all, 200 new villages will arise on the new area of one million dunams. Most of them will be in strategic areas. Besides providing the land, the J.N.F. is contributing 37 1/2% of the initial cost of settlement. These do not exhaust the tasks that face the J.N.F. It is also reclaiming the land, furthering the development of the country's water resources, and, wherever necessary, afforesting areas unfit for cultivation. In and around the cities it must provide land for housing, a vital necessity for the rapidly growing population. These, too, are enormous tasks, and if we do no more than mention them here, it is only because they do not fall directly within the scope of this review.

AREA OF J.N.F. LAND IN PALESTINE (1947-48)


Jezreel Valley, Zebulun Valley, Jordan Valley

376,000 dunams

Galilee

208,000

Samaria

46,000

Sharon

112,000

Judean Plain

147,000

Judean Hills

39,000

Negev

95,000

 

1,023,000

Area of other Jewish land in Israel: 900,000.

Grand total: 1,923,000 dunams.


 

 

 

BUILDINGS AND APARTMENTS

There were in Palestine in 1948 four mixed cities in which Arabs and Jews lived together, namely Jerusalem, Haifa, Safad and Tiberias. There were also eight Arab cities and large towns and 833 Arab small towns and villages. There were six Jewish cities or towns, 21 Jewish urban settlements and 266 Jewish rural settlements. Jewish statistics also showed that in 1947 there were 919 Arab towns and villages and 293 Jewish towns and villages.(19) Ninety percent of the Arabs who were living in small towns and cities resided in individual houses built of stone. Ten percent of the Arab city dwellers were living in apartment houses in buildings owned by Arab landlords. The Arabs in villages were living in individual houses built of stone. 80% of these village houses were modem houses and 20% were of inferior quality. The Government of Palestine conducted a census in 1931 of the population of Palestine in every town and village and the number of houses. As this was the last census, the Govemment gave estimates of the increase of the Arab and Jewish population. The increase of the Arab population was estimated at 30.71 per 1,000. On the basis of this estimate, we computerized the estimates in 1948 and the result was that the Arab population in Palestine in 1948 was 1,440,274 and the number of Arab houses or apartments was 360,068.

OWNERSHIP IN INDUSTRY

The Survey of Palestine dealt with the ownership of industry in Palestine. There were 1,558 Arab industrial establishments and 1,907 Jewish establishments. The details were as follows:

OWNERSHIP OF INDUSTRY IN PALESTINE

(As found at the census of industry, 1943)(11)

Item
Arab & other non-Jewish
Jewish
Concessions
Total

 

Establishments (No.)

1,558

1,907

5

3,470

Capital Invested (LP)

2,064,587

12,093,929

6,293.681

20,452, 197

Horse Power

3,625

57,410

133,673

194,708

Gross outout (LP)

5.658.222

29.040.679

2, 131,467

36.830.368

Cost of materials(LP)

3,9331429

17,552,836

499,993

21,986,258

Net output (LP)

,724,793

11,487,843

1,631,474

14,844, 110

Persons engaged (No.)

8,804

37,773

3,400

49,977


MOTOR VEHICLES AND ESTIMATED VALUE

The Survey of Palestine published the number of vehicles owned by Arabs and Jews and their value in 1945 as follows:(12)

 

Number total

Jewish

Arab & other

Total

Omnibuses

1,342

566

377

943

Commercial

 

 

 

 

Vehicles:

 

 

 

 

Light

921

106

57

163

Heavy

3, 111

717

386

1, 103

Taxis

1,248

150

183

333

Private

3 ,051

343

281

624

Total

9,673

1,882

1,284

3, 166

 

ESTIMATED NUMBER AND VALUE OF LIVESTOCK UNDER ARAB AND JEWISH OWNERSHIP(13)

 

Arab 1943

Jewish 1942

Total 1942-43

 

Number

Number

Number

 

 

 

 

Cattle

214,570

28,375

242,945

Buffaloes

4,972

-

4,972

Sheepover 1 yr

224,942

19, 120

244,062

Goats over 1 yr

314,602

10, 174

324,776

Camels over 1 yr

29,736

-

29,736

Horses

16,869

2, 152

19,021

Mules

7,328

2,534

9,862

Donkeys

105,414

2,322

107,736

Pigs

12, 145

-

12, 145

Fowls (excl. chickens)

1,202, 122

669,506

1,871,628

Other poultry

16,394

74,259

90,653

 

 

 

 

Estimated total value at pre-war prices

3, 100,000

1,440,000

4,540,000

 

 

 

 

Note: LP = Palestinian Pounds

 

 

 


VALUATION OF RURAL LAND UNDER ARAB AND JEWISH OWNERSHIP IN 1943(14)

The values quoted are pre-war values (i.e., before 1939):

Fiscal categories

Arab & other non-Jewish

Jewish

Total

 

LP. 000

LP. 000

LP. 000

 

 

 

 

Citrus

18, 197

17,648

35.845

Bananas

230

143

373

Rural built-on area

1, 106

1.270

2,376

Plantations

8,098

716

8,814

Cereal land (taxable)

27.5 16

4,07 1

31,587

Cereal land (not taxable)

2,701

153

2,854

Uncultivable

16,926

299

17,225

Total

74,774

24,300

99,074

 

 

 

 

Note: LP = Palestinian Pounds

 

 

 


NOTES TO CHAPTER THREE

1. A Survey of Palestine Prepared in December I945 and January 1946 for the Information of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry (Jerusalem: Palestine Government Printer, 1946), volume 2,
p. 563.
2. Ibid., p. 563.
3. Ibid., p. 566.
4. Official Records of the Second Session of the General Assembly Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestine Question, Summary Records of Meetings, 25 September-25 November, 1947, pp. 292-
293.
5. Ibid., pp. 292-293.
6. Survey of Palestine, volume 1, p. 244.
7. Supplement to Survey of Palestine, Notes Compiled for the Information of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (Jerusalem: Palestine Government Printer, 1947), p. 37.
8. Statistical Handbook of Jewish Palestine (Jerusalem: Department of Statistics of the Jewish Agency, 1947), p. 129.
9. Jewish Villages in Israel, Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth Leisrael), Head Office, Jerusalem, 1949, pp. xxi-xxii.
10. Statistical Handbook of Jewish Palestine, pp. 36-40.
11. Survey of Palestine, volume 2, p. 567.
12. Ibid., p. 568.
13. Ibid.,
14. Ibid., p. 567.



Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem
By Issa Nakhleh

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