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Palestine Enters New Year at Peace but in Grip of Economic Readjustment

As a result of the European war, paradoxically, Palestine is entering the new year enjoying comparative peace but in the throes of an economic readjustment.

The readjustment is particularly affecting the Jewish community, whose hopes at this time are centered in assistance by American Jewry and industrial development stimulated by wartime orders, notably for products which eastern countries formerly obtained from Germany.

Fifty-two new factories were established in the year just ended, while 39 others doubled their production. An indication of the industrial activity is seen in the 50 per cent rise in the consumption of electricity, which totalled 30,000,000 kilowatt hours. The economic depression during the year was caused primarily by the cutting off of the influx of Jewish capital, which is reflected in the lower bank deposits, and secondarily by the halving of citrus exports.

Despite the poor economic conditions, a record number of new settlements were established in 1939. Nineteen in all were founded, of which 12 were set up on Jewish National Fund land and seven on that of the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association (PICA). The J.N.F. colonies represented an investment of L-360,000. A total of 59,000 dunams (10,000 acres) of land were acquired by the J.N.F. during the year.

The J.N.F., which marked its 38th anniversary yesterday, announced that its Palestine holdings total 484,000 dunams (97,000 acres). Two new settlements will shortly be established on J.N.F. land in the Huleh region of northern Palestine it was announced.

The Jewish Agency for Palestine estimates that the Jewish population totals 475,000, or 31 per cent of the total. It reports that 17,000 immigrants holding certificates entered Palestine in 1939, in addition to 9,000 who came as refugees. The year’s natural increase totalled 8,000.

Prior to the outbreak of the war, unofficial estimates put the total killed in the disorders at 785. This figure includes 111 Jews, 355 Arab civilians and police, 277 brigands and 39 Britons. Wounded totalled 859, including 245 Jews 520 Arabs and 89 Britons. There have been no Jewish victims since the war began.

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