The Palestine deal now reported from Jerusalem, according to which the Jews are to acquire the Huleh plain, was conducted several months ago but was kept secret until now.
Though the Huleh plain is a swampy district which will require several years of drainage work, it was feared that a strong Arab opposition might develop if the fact about the deal came out in the news prematurely. It was also feared that the Palestine government might not sanction this deal.
Now the agreement has been sanctioned not only by the Palestine authorities but also by the Colonial office in London. The news, therefore, can be made public.
A CONCESSION FOR 99 YEARS
The Huleh plain which passes into Jewish hands is a territory under concession. The concession was in the hands of Arabs. Now the Jews have taken it over from the Arabs for a period of ninety-nine years.
The deal was carried out by the Palestine Land Development Company, by the Jewish Farmers’ Federation, of which M. Smiliansky is president, and by the Palestine Labor Bank. Both have invested large sums to have invested large sum to finance not only the obtaining of the concession from the Arabs but also the draining of the land. When the land will be drained it will be parceled and sold to individual Jews.
In a recent conversation with me in London, M. Smiliansky estimated that about eight thousand Jews could be settled on the land when the drainage will have been completed.
Though it will be not less than three years before the entire territory will be fit for Jewish settlement, it will nevertheless be possible to settle the first two thousand Jews on Huleh land at the end of 1935. A three-year plan has been prepared, according to which a third of the land will be cultivated and settled each year, so that at the end of the three years the entire territory will be populated.
Careful plans have been laid out to combat malarial diseases in that region. Previous experiences along the line of fighting the malarial plague in Palestine will make this work easier now. The climate of Huleh is very mild and is fit for Europeans.
OLD AMBITION REALIZED
It has long been the ambition of the Zionist Executive to acquire the Huleh territory. Negotiations with Arabs for the sub-lease of the concession were carried on years ago by Dr. Weizmann when he was president of the World Zionist Organization. The Palestine government, however, always interfered. The fact that the Zionist Executive lacked sufficient funds to acquire the land was another obstacle.
The present prosperity in Palestine made it, however, possible to convince the Palestine government that the marshy land of Huleh can be converted into fertile soil only when it is sold to the Jews. The present prosperity in Palestine has also made it possible to find finances for carrying out the project of acquiring the land and draining it.
The acquisition of the Huleh plain is a long step forward in Jewish achievement in Palestine. After the territory is drained it will be one of the most fertile districts in Palestine. It will be another Emek.