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British Government Accounts to League for Policy Under Palestine Mandate

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(Jewish Telegraphic Agency Mail Service)

A reply to the question of the Mandates Commission as to what measures have been taken to place Palestine under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the national home of the Jewish people, was made by the British Government in its report to the Council of the League of Nations. The report was issued here today as a White Paper.

“The policy of the Government of Palestine aims at placing all the inhabitants of the country, irrespective of race and religion, on a footing of equality,” the report stated. “The acts of good government themselves create conditions favorable to the development of Jewish settlement in Palestine. “Thirteen thousand and eighty-one Jewish immigrants were admitted in 1926; 64,000 dunams of land were acquired by Jewish purchasers for Jewish settlement at a cost of nearly £E.100,000; 3,308 certificates of citizenship were granted to Jews The provisions of the Expropriation of Land Ordinance were applied to facilitate the acquisition of the site for the Library of the Hebrew University, and for the Jordan works of the Palestine Electric Corporation. Jewish industries and settlement work were assisted by the abolition of, or reduction in, customs duties on wheat, cotton, silk, artificial silk, woolen and worsted yarns, sacks and barrel-hoops, copra and oil seeds, pipes for drainage. The activity in the formation of Jewish cooperative societies is unabated. Nine Jewish companies were formed. Regulations to be made under the Religious Communities Organization Ordinance for the lay and religious organization of the Jewish community have been drafted and are under consideration.

The Government of Palestine made a grant-in-aid of nearly £E.10,000 to the schools of the Jewish Agency for the year 1926-27. The grant-in-aid to Jewish schools for the year 1925-26 amounted to £E.3,679,” the report declared.

In answer to various questions relating to the functions of the Jewish Agency and its cooperation with the Administration of Palestine, the Government states that the Jewish Agency has submitted observations on the draft Workmen’s Compensation Ordinance, and the Correction of Land Registers Ordinance, and also on the draft regulations for the organization of the Jewish Community.

Figures are given of the expenditures by the Zionist Organization on economic and social services.

The area of lands under Jewish ownership is now nearly 250,000 acres.

ECONOMIC SITUATION IN PALESTINE

“The economic condition of the country has been less prosperous this year than last,” the report states. “The principal reasons for this are twofold: The early promise of a better distributed rainfall yielding an abundant harvest was not fulfilled, and an outbreak of cattle plague during the summer, though effectually checked before it had spread very far, necessitated rigorous restriction of the moving of animals for several months, and the financial situation of the Jewish part of the local population has for various reasons been unsatisfactory as compared with the two previous years and this has affected trade in general. These adverse conditions are reflected in the revenue returns for Customs, Tithes, and Land Registration Fees in 1926, but the full effect of them on the financial situation of the country is not yet apparent.

“It is satisfactory to note, however, that notwithstanding these conditions, and the continuance of a troubled situation on the northern frontier, there has been no disturbance of public security in Palestine and Trans-Jordan. A complete reorganization on more economical lines of the public security forces in the two countries has been effected. Considerable progress in administrative efficiency has been made. A number of public works have been carried out: amongst others the improvement of the port at Jaffa and the installation of a more adequate water supply for Jerusalem supplementing the supply installed by the Army in 1918. This improved water supply has, however, been laid down only as a temporary measure, and the pre-war concessions for the water supply and electric lighting of Jerusalem, which were held by Mr. E. Mavrommatis, have been re-adapted to meet present day requirements; but the concessionnaire has not yet formed a company to carry out these works.

“A stud farm has been established near Acre. Preparations for land settlement, for the introduction of new currency, and for the issue of a revised stamp law have been advanced.

“Tourist traffic shows satisfactory development. Several large Christian pilgrimages visited the country. An archaeological congress, attended by some ninety representatives of scientific bodies in many parts of the world, was held at Jerusalem in April.

“The draft regulations for the Jewish Community have been completed, but are not yet published.

PUBLIC FINANCES NOT UNSATISFACTORY

“Notwithstanding a falling revenue and increased expenditure, as compared with 1925,” the report proceeds,” surplus balances at the end of 1926 totalled £E.1,504,554 as compared with £E. 1,069,576 at the end of 1925. Advances have been made from the surplus balances and by the Crown Agents to defray the cost of works undertaken in anticipation of the new Palestine loan. Repayment of these advances and of the sum of £1,000,000, due to His Majesty’s Government in respect of railways, roads, telegraphs and other capital assets by the Palestine Government, will be effected when the 4 1/2 million pound loan is issued. The balance of the loan will be utilized for construction of a harbor at Haifa and other necessary works, and to defray the cost of raising the loan.

“The public finances of the country, although not unsatisfactory, demand a cautions policy. The expansion of revenue which has enabled the accumulation of considerable surplus balances is due mainly to items derived from the large influx of Jewish capital to the country. These items will fall and rise in close relation to this influx. On the other hand Jewish enterprise and capital have not yet succeeded, and cannot in the nature of things succeed immediately, in increasing the production of the country to a level that will maintain its increasing population and serve to lessen the present tremendous disparity between the values of visible imports and exports. So long as these conditions obtain it will be difficult to ensure financial stability, and recurrent expenditure must be kept low if adequate provision is to be made for the payment of interest charges and amortization of the projected loan. The normal and steady exploitation of the agricultural and other natural resources of the country, although apparently slow, will be facilitated by improved means of communication provided by the Government from loan funds and should in due course ensure a more stable economic position. In the meantime the accumulation of surplus balances provides a reserve fund from which, as circumstances permit, monies may be available for the execution of a buildings program and other public utility works of which the country stands in urgent need.

AIMS TO DEVELOP BOTH DIVISIONS ON PARALLEL LINES

“The problem of the better organization and promotion of educational enterprise in Palestine has been the subject of further careful study by the Government. The two largest groups of systems of schools, the one organized by the Government in which the principal language of instruction is Arabic, the other organized by the Zionist Executive in which the principal language is Hebrew, together provide for nearly three-fifths of the total school attendance. Thus, public instruction is divisible into two main branches; the one concerned with the instruction of Arabs, the other with the instruction of Jews. This division by national language corresponds with the political and cultural cleavage between the two sections of the local population. It is the object of Government to develop the administration of these two divisions along parallel lines and to evolve a public system of education which shall comprise all schools in receipt of financial aid from public funds whether provided by the central or local authorities. Organs of local government such as municipal councils and community councils will, as their circumstances admit, be made local education authorities, and authorized to levy an additional rate for educational purposes. A new education of finance to replace existing, ‘On man’ legislation is being prepared. It is proposed under the Ordinance to make regulations for local education authorities and for schools, Arabic and Hebrew, included in the public system.

SEES DANGER OF UNDULY PESSIMISTIC INFERENCES

“A sharp depression in trade and other commercial enterprise succeeded the easier conditions which provided in 1925, and has been the cause of distress–in some places acute-among Jewish immigrants. As the result there has been a considerable movement to emigrate, more unemployment and a feeling of anxiety throughout the local Jewish community. Relief of distress, occasionally in the form of money doles but principally by the prevision of special works, has been afforded by the Zionist Organization, supported by Jewish public bodies and aided by the never falling Jewish philanthropy. But the strain at a period when trade was slack has borne somewhat heavily on the community as a whole. Partly on this are {SPAN}##{/SPAN} the Council of the Tel-Aviv Township, in which the majority of Jewish unemployed was assembled, was compelled to seek the aid of Government to enable it to meet financial obligations contracted when the immediate outlook was brighter. An attractive side of the picture is the spirit of fortitude which has hitherto predominated, and of determination whenever possible to struggle through a difficult period.

“There is possibly some danger that unduly pessimistic inferences may be made from the present situation in its relation to the establishment of a Jewish National Home,” the report reads. “The facts certainly controvert the views if these optimists who demanded insistently a sudden large increase in the local Jewish population by means of an unrestricted immigration of Jews from Eastern Europe: and who believed that given the necessary population and sufficient capital, agriculture and industry could at once be made profitable in a small undeveloped country in which several important factors to the success of settlement on a large scale are at present lacking. The Government engaged in the preparation of a number of products which, as they can be received, will promote the economic development of the country, are often accused of indifference to these factors and urged to adopt a forward colonizing policy. Apart from the fact that His Majesty’s Government have decided that immigration should not be so great in volume as to exceed whatever may be the economic capacity of the country at the time to absorb new arrivals, it must be remembered that time is an essential perhaps the prime, factor in successful Jewish settlement. The ratio of yield to capital invested is still an attenuated one and it will be some years before increased production, mainly agricultural, can support a much larger Jewish population in the country. The enterprise of the Palestine Electric Corporation, the concession in whose favor has now been signed, harbor improvements and other enterprises of a constructive nature will in the future, it is hoped, provide employment for all labor surplus to present requirements, and should pave the way to new economic developments. In the meantime all available monies and effort should be directed to the consolidation of the position, agricultural, industrial and commercial, already gained; and a selective immigration policy must ensure that this work of consolidation is not impeded by the entry to the country of non-productive elements whose presence immediately would be a source of embarrassment and weakness.

LOCAL DEFENCE MADE MORE SELF-DEPENDENT

“A re-organization of public security forces was effected during the year with a view to making the two territories–Palestine and Transjordan–comprised in the British mandatory area, more self-dependant in regard to local defence and to reducing the amount of the grants-in-aid hither made by the British Treasury on this account.

“Under the new scheme, a clear distinction is made between the forces employed on normal police duties and those who may be required to engage in military operations. The British and Palestinian sections of the Palestine gendarmerie, as well as the Arab Legion in Transjordan, have been disbanded and replaced by Palestine and Transjordan police forces who perform the normal police duties, and by a mounted military force recruited locally and designated the Transjordan Frontier Force. This latter force is available for duty in both territories but is principally required for service in Transjordan. The cost of the Palestine Police Force is borne by the Government of Palestine and the cost of the Transjordan Police Force, which has been renamed the Arab Legion by the Government of Transjordan assisted by a grant-in-aid from the British Government.

“The Transjordan Frontier Force, which is under the command of British officers, is highly mobile and has been recruited for the most part from the Arab Legion and ex-Palestine gendarmes. Its cost is borne by the Palestine Government with the assistance in 1926 of a grant-in-aid from the British Government.

“The present establishment of the Palestine police force is 125 officers and 1,627 other ranks. Forty-eight officers, 21 non-commissioned officers and 176 constables are British: 45 officers, 108 non-commissioned officers and 875 constables are Moslems, 17 officers, 24 non-commissioned officers and 226 constables are non-British Christians: and 15 officers, 22 non-commissioned officers and 175 constables are Jews.

“Of the Transjordan frontier force, 16 officers 13 warrant officers and 2 non-commissioned officers are British; 18 officers, 33 non-commissioned officers and 560 troopers are Moslems; 2 officers, 4 non-commissioned officers and 90 troopers are non-British Christians: and 8 non-commissioned officers and 29 troopers are Jews,” the Government’s report declares.

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