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Britain Replies to League on Jewish National Home Progress in Palestine

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“What measures have been taken in order to place the country (Palestine) under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home and what are the effects of these measures?”

The answer to this question, repeated annually by the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations in its questionnaire to the Mandatory government, is the major note in the report of the British government as Mandatory for Palestine, submitted to the Council of the League of Nations on its administration of Palestine and Transjordania during the year 1928. The text of the report of the British government was made public here in connection with the sessions of the League Commission which opened on July 1.

Replying to this question, the British government report states that a commercial agreement was concluded with Egypt, mainly for the benefit of Jewish tobacco growers in Palestine. During the year, 2,178 Jewish immigration entered Palestine. Six hundred immigration certificates were granted under the labor schedule and 4,500 certificates of citizenship through naturalization were granted Jews.

A series of further benefits were extended Jewish industries by protective import duties and exemptions of raw material. The Standing Committee for Commerce and Industry as well as the Harbor, Road and Railway Boards facilitate the hearing of representations by Jewish interests for assistance or relief in industrial and agricultural enterprises.

The Palestine government made an annual grant of £20,000 for the schools of the Jewish Agency. Two additional Jewish inspectors of education were also appointed.

Approximately £4,000 was contributed toward the Tel Aviv Municipal Hospital, plus £2,000 allotted annually for the next three years toward the maintenance of the hospital. Also, the government arranged connections with Jewish physicians in the Emek for preventive health work.

Jewish unemployed were engaged in government public work.

The commencement of land settlement and the reassessment of urban property are also important for Jewish inhabitants, because it will establish the certainly of title and tenure, adjusting inequities of the obsolete Turk- (Continued on Page 4)

The acquisition of surplus areas in the fertile region of the Beisan lands for Jewish colonizing bodies should be facilitated, following the statement of policy published in September, which marks the principal condition that the surplus land be transferred to persons, approved by the government, whose objects will be the promotion of close settlement and intensive land cultivation.

Appreciable progress has been made toward the organization of the Jewish community.

The report has nothing to add to its statement of 1923 regarding the question: when and in what manner has the Jewish Agency been officially recognized? The report states a number of cases in which the Jewish Agency (Zionist Organization) has given advice to the Palestine government during the past year, namely: it submitted observations on the draft for the protection of cultivators, on education, customs, the commutation of tithes, the urban property tax, the railway ordinances and the revision of regulations governing the immigration of persons of independent means. It also presented for consideration by the Palestine Government, the reports of the Joint Survey Commission, constituting an exhaustive, masterly review of economic conditions, especially in the domain of agricultural colonization, embodying numerous authoritative suggestions and proposals of practical value.

TELLS OF Z.O.A. CO-OPERATION

In reply to the question, what is the nature and extent of the cooperation of the Jewish Agency with the Palestine government in economic, social and other matters, the report says that the Jewish Agency distributed £29,300 in unemployment relief during the first quarter of 1928. No Jewish unemployed became a direct charge on public funds. The Jewish Agency further arranged for the distribution of seed loans, following the failure of crops owing to the drought in the Northern District. It further initiated, during the year, for the relief of unemployment, works involving the expenditure of quarter of a million pounds.

To the question, in what manner is the Agency participating in the development of the country? the report states that the Jewish Agency spent in Palestine since November 1917 about seven million pounds, spending between October 1927 and September 1928 £715,000 on economic and social services. The Jewish Agency supervises schools attended by 19,449 pupils in 1928 as against 18,611 in 1927. The Hadassah admitted to its hospitals 10,369 patients, treating in village clinics and dispensaries about 120,000 patients. The Jewish Agency built a new hospital at Tiberias, and the Workers’ Sick Fund is building a hospital near Afuleh which will serve the neighboring settlements.

The Zionist Organization continued negotiations for the enlargement of the Jewish Agency, keeping the government informed of developments.

70% OF IMMIGRANTS IN 1928 JEWS

To the question, what measures were taken to facilitate Jewish immigration, the report replies that seventy per cent of the immigrations in 1928 were Jews. Also, 300 political refugees and their families were allowed to enter under due safeguards.

REPORTS SUBSTANTIAL PROGRESS IN COLONIZATION

Substantial progress in colonization by the Jewish Agency was recorded. Three new settlements in the Jordan Valley and the Emek were completed at a cost of £31,000 plus the building cost of £34,000.

The land purchasing institution of the Jewish Agency acquired additional 30,000 dunams rural land, now holding nearly a quarter of a million dunams, and 3,300 dunams forest land. The Pica reclaimed 6,000 dunams of the Kabbara marshes. Only a few areas of no great extent have been affirmed as state land, but in every instance the areas are sand dunes, unsuitable for colonization.

The introduction to the report states that economic conditions in Palestine during the year were not satisfactory. Drought and locust invasion depressed agriculture. The plight of the farmers necessitated the largest measure of relief. The government issued loans to cultivators amounting to £20,000, of which Jewish cultivators received £2,500. Due to the Palestine Zionist Executive’s courageous facing of the unemployment situation, a substantial proportion of unemployed was absorbed. However, emigration among those unable to establish themselves satisfactorily in Palestine was noticeable. Uneconomic enterprises either closed or were re-established on sounder foundations.

POSITIVE DEVELOPMENT IN SEVERAL DIRECTIONS

At the same time, there was evidence of positive development in several directions-orange plantations and forest cultivation areas increased; factories enlarged their plants and augmented their output; building preparations were renewed; tourist traffic expanded, reaching 63,319 visitors during 1928 as against 59,305 in 1927; the motor car imports, mostly from America, increased from 573 to 1,011, the total import of motor car requirements and petrol amounting to half a million pounds. Toward the end of the year, therefore, the period of transition had reached the stage of steady amelioration, justifying immigration in the labor categories.

In the political sphere the year passed with tranquility, but the growth of mutual tolerance of Jews and Arabs was somewhat relarded by the unfortunate incident at the Wailing Wall. No steps have been taken to set up a representative legislature.

The chapter of the report dealing with finance shows an increased expenditure to £3,381,393 against an income of £2,584,317, the deficit directly attributable to the payment of Palestine’s share of the Ottoman debt, amounting to £648,823, and to the extraordinary expenses of the Survey Department, without which the revenue would have exceeded the expenditure by £219,442.

The chapter on education notes that the Hebrew University Institute of Mathematics was completed and the Institute of Physics is under construction. The roll of regular students increased from 69 to 138. The University Library contains about 200,000 volumes.

Jews and Christians, less than Moslems, were affected by the absence of legal compulsion to attend school, practically all Jewish and Christian children receiving some schooling.

The report on Transjordania gives the approximate population of that territory as a quarter of a million and emphasizes the effect of the bad crop.

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