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Zionist Executive Reports to League on Palestine Conditions

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(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

Two points of issue, which are the subjects of negotiations between the Executive of the Zionist World Organization and the British Government as the Mandatory Power for Palestine, were raised in presentations made by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, President of the World Zionist Organization, in his memorandum submitted to the Permanent Mandates Commission, which is in session here, through the High Commissioner of Palestine, Lord Plumer.

In the annual report of the Zionist Executive concerning present-day conditions in Palestine, submitted to the Permanent Mandates Commission, covering the period ending December 31, 1926, and in a letter accompanying this document, Dr. Weizmann described Palestine conditions in the fields of immigration, agricultural colonization, urban development, industry, public health, education and finance.

Special attention is drawn to the conclusion of the Marshall-Weizmann pact concerning the extension of the Jewish Agency, aiming at the enlisting of the support of non-Zionists in the work of upbuilding Palestine.

The issues raised in Dr. Weizmann’s letter concern the question of Stale lands for Jewish colonization in Palestine, particularly in the area of Beisan, and the question of government allotments for the Hebrew educational system in Palestine.

In the matter of State lands for Jewish colonization which was raised in the previous memoranda of the Zionist Executive, Dr. Weizmann draws attention to the fact that no definite decision on this point has as yet been reached. He expresses the hope of the Zionist Executive, however, “that the negotiations will shortly reach a conclusion which will give fair satisfaction to the Zionist point of view.” In the matter of government allotments for the Hebrew educational system, the president of the World Zionist Organization expresses his “grateful appreciation of the substantial increase in the grant for which the Palestine government has found it possible to make provision in its budget for 1926-1927.” This has reference to the allotment of the Palestine govenment Juring the past year of the amount of £10,000. Dr. Weizmann, however, observes, that the increased grant is still considerably less than it would be “if the allocation from the government education budget were divided between Jewish and other schools in strict proportion to the number of pupils receiving instruction.”

The Zionist Executive also urges the Palestine government to hasten the promulgation of regulations for the protection of women and children in industry, in pursuance of the Workmen’s Compensation Ordinance issued by the Palestine government last November. It specifically asks for adequate factory laws and the developing of a program of constructive labor legislation in accordance with the needs of the country.

The memorandum submitted to the Permanent Mandates Commission states that the amount of capital brought into Palestine by new immigrants during the year 1926 was very much less than in the previous year. The influx of such capital had almost entirely ceased by the end of the year, but there are signs that it will resume its course before very long. Of the persons who emigrated from Palestine in 1926, a certain number went back to Poland for the purpose of finally winding up their affairs there and returning to Palestine in due course with fresh capital, the memorandum states.

Concerning labor conditions and the present economic crisis in Palestine, the report lays emphasis on the fact that the unemployment situation was caused by the crisis in the building industry which was the result of the checking of urban development, which started in October, 1925. Owing to the leading position occupied by the building trade among the industries of Palestine, the depression it suffered seriously affected the whole economic life of the country. Nevertholess the other industries, apart from those subsidiary to the building trade, did not fare materially worse than in the preceding year.

During the year under review, the Jewish rural population of Palestine increased by 7,000 persons, including labor transferred from the towns to the colonies, according to the report. The total of the Jewish agricultural population at present is about 32,000.

According to the latest census, the number of Jewish workers in Palestine is 31,821, of whom 23,447 are in the towns. In July, 1926, there were 592 Jewish factories in the country, with an invested capital of 1,840,227 Egyptian Pounds. These factories employed 5,711 persons. This represents an increase as against 547 factories with an investment of 2,000,000 Egyptian Pounds, employing 5,000 persons, in July, 1925.

Concerning the unemployment situation the report states: “The excess of immigration shown in the totals for 1926 was obtained entirely in the first seven months of the year; in each of the last five months there was actually an excess of emigrants over immigrants. During this period the number of emigrants was unusually high. Both phenomena were closely connected with the prevalence of unemployment, which was an outstanding feature of Jewish economic life in Palestine in 1926.

“During the first ten months of 1925 there was comparatively liule unemployment in Palestine. Most of the spare labor of the country–including new immigrants–was absorbed by the building-trade and its subsidiary industries, which were kept working at full pressure to supply housing accommodation for the immigrants with means, who were arriving in large numbers throughout that period. From October, 1925, the immigration of such persons declined considerably, and there was a corresponding decline in the demand for new houses. The result was that a large portion of the working classes which catered for this demand was thrown out of employment, as no new industries had been created meanwhile which could have absorbed them.

“In October, 1925. the number of unemployed was about 1,000; in November it rose to 3,000, in April, 1926. it was 5,000, and in July, 6,000. In the next two months it dropped to about 4,000, but then rose again, and at the end of the year was about 6.500, with a tendency (in part seasonal) to rise further. Unemployment was acute chiefly in the building and subsidiary trades; in other trades it was not on the whole greater than in the preceding year.

“About half the unemployed were in the building trade and were in Tel Aviv, where the immigrants with means had mostly settled at first, and where consequently building had been most brisk. On November 21. 1926. the registered unemployed were distributed as follows: Jerusalem. 769; Tel Aviv. 3,221; Haifa, 1,206; Tiberias. 100; Afuleh, 250; Petach-Tikvah, 700;

“Notwithstanding the state of the labor market, the various branches of the Labor Organization have extended and consolidated their activities, more especially in the social and cultural spheres, in which marked progress has been made in the period under review.

“The existence of this large number of unemployed constituted a social problem of great gravity. Active relief measures were taken by the Palestine Zionist Executive, some assistance being also promised, towards the end of the year, by the Palestine Government. Between April, 1926. and the end of the year, the Palestine Zionist Executive spent £13.671 on relief (not all for working people), £38.722 on relief works, giving one or two days’ employment a week, and £9,988 on reserve works. The principal works promoted were road construction and building in Tel Aviv, drainage work in Haifa Bay. and road construction and building in Haifa. The Labor Department of the Palestine Zionist Executive has given special attention to the problem of the reabsorption of unemployed labor, and has, among other measures, been instrumental in transferring about 5,000 unemployed workers in the towns to agricultural labor in the older colonies, During 1926 the Department has assisted the establishment of eight girls’ communal groups, in which girl immigrants receive training in various branches of agriculture, gardening, domestic science and handicrafts.”

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