Agency Experts’ Findings Present Palestine in New Light of Facts

Country Has Two and Three Quarter Million Acres of Cultivable Land; Credit Facilities are Sufficient but Loan and Trading Corporation with $5,000,000 Capital Proposed (J. T. A. Mail Service)

–Palestine as a land for Jewish colonization, its possibilities for agricultural, industrial and commercial development, is presented in a new light of facts in the findings of the Joint Palestine Survey Commission on which basis the Agency Commission has formulated its report.

The Findings of Facts, together with the Agency Commission’s report, were made public in a printed booklet of 182 pages, published here.

In addition to an historical introduction, giving the history of the Jewish attempts to reclaim Palestine, the Zionist movement, leading up to the issuance of the Balfour Declaration, the confirmation of the Mandate by the Council of the League of Nations and the adoption by the United States Congress of the resolution endorsing the Jewish National Home policy, the report gives a comprehensive description of Palestine’s conditions and possibilities under the headings (a) Immigration, (b) Agricultural Colonization, (c) Industry, (d) Cooperative Movement, (e) Banking and Credit, (f) Public Health, (g) Labor, (h) Finance, (i) Education, (j) Organization of the Jewish Community and (k) The Function of the Government Under the Mandate. In addition to the Commission’s conclusions and recommendations the Palestine Mandate, the Palestine Immigration Ordinance of 1925 and the terms of Reference and Specifications to the Survey Commission are appended. The Findings of Facts bring out a number of interesting and important points concerning the possibilities of the country.

On the subject of the possibility and desirability of acquiring additional land, it is said that the total exploitable land surface of Palestine does not exceed 4 1/2 million acres (14,000,000 dunams), of which approximately 2 2/4 million acres (11,000,000 dunams) are considered as cultivable. There are in Jewish hands about 1,000,000 dunams. These ### in July 1927, were distributed as follows P.I.C.A. approximately 400,000 ###: Jewish National Fund 200,000 dunams; Old Settlements and “Achu##” 200,000 dunams: American Zion Commonwealth 100,000 dunams; Various Companies and Individuals 100,000 dunams.

The Government of Palestine have in their possession certain State lands which they may put at the disposal of settlers, and the Zionist Organization has been concerned with these possibilities.

Up to the present, the Zionist Organization has received from the Government little in the way of active assistance in the settlement of Jews on the land. The langed awa-out negotiations between the Zionist Organization and the Government with reference to the allotment of State lands for Jewish colonization, more particularly in the Beisan area, have up to the present, produced no positive result.

Werko is collected upon all immovable property on land as well as on buildings. The tax varies according to the legal status of the land under Moselm law. It is levied on the capital value of the property which was to be revalued every five years. In realty there were no general revaluations and property is revalued only when it changes hands or when new buildings are erected Thus there came to be two categories of taxpayers, differently taxed for exactly the same ## of property the old-established inhabitants paying works colonized upon the extremely how p## of property prevalling 30 or 50 years ago and the post-war immigrants paying works calculated ### to prices which were exa## high and often a### in###. This has led to two ### a that new immigrants, constituting the active element of the popolation are more highly ### and (b) ### the building industry is checked to some extent. In 1928 the draft of an Urban Property Tax Ordinance was published, whereby the works is to be abolished in cities and replaced by a house tax and a tax to vacant ###

It is Jewish a### which suffers particularly from heavy taxation. In some of the s### founded by the Zionist Organization since the war the per capita inci### for the working population amounts to four, five, or six pounds. while it amounts to #### in #### in Cyptus, and only ## in so wealthy a country as the United States of America. This heavy bu## encumbers the Jewish settler from the very first day be establishes himself. That the existing system is indefensible has, indeed been admitted by the Palestine Government itself which has definitely announced its intention of abolishing it in favor of an equitable land tax on approved modern lines, and has, in fact, already begun to take steps in that direction. It has been repeatedly represented to the Government by the Zionist Organization that some concessions in respect of taxation should be made to new agricultural settlements in their early stages. Similar concessions are freely made in other countries in which the Government desires to encourage agricultural colonization.

With respect to the close settlement of Jews on purchased lands, the matter is primarily one of cost. Whether a farmer purchases his own farm with his own funds, or has the mony loaned to him by the Zionist Organization or other organization on land to be purchased for him or on the inalienable land of the Keren Kayemeth, the cost of establishing him varies between $5,000 and $7,000. These figures are minimal and assume that the family may be productively settled on 100 dunams in the Emek. It has now been found, however, that 100 dunams are insufficient.

There were weighty social and political reasons for reducing the farm unit in Palestine to the lowest economic area. The smaller the farms the larger the number of settlers who could be cared for in a given colony. The resuit was to reduce the size of farm units below what settlers require to keep them occupied or to earn a living. This is shown in the demand for more land, in the practice of renting outside land, and the extent to which settlers work for wages a part of the time. Palestine experience shows that a dry farm should have from 40 to 80 acres, whether in the Coasial Plain or in the Emek, and that 60 acres is a safer limit than 40. Where the land can be irrigated a much smaller unit is required to support a family. At present Jewish farmers follow Arab practices in irrigation, especially in the recently planted orange groves. The units may be materially reduced if it is found that artificial fertilizers can be profitably applied. In some of the colonies there are many more settlers than are needed to cultivate the land, and so many more than the land can be made to support, that reorganization is called for.

Under the heading of Banking and Credit, the Report gives data relating to the Anglo-Palestine Company, Limited; Palestine “Kupath-Am” Bank. Limited; Workers’ Bank. Limited: Artisans’ Bank, Limited Mizrachi Bank. Limited; Loan Bank, Limited; “Merkaz”. Central Institution for Credit Co-operative Societies in Palestine; Central Bank of Credit Co-operative Societies in Palestine. Limited; Co-operative Bank “Bnai Benjamin.” Limited; Palestine Building

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