Israel Provides Relief Work for Arabs in the Occupied West Bank Area; Plans for Farmers

Israel Labor Ministry sources said today that about 1,000 Arab workers in the occupied West Bank area have been given relief work in road-building, afforestation and irrigation projects. The Bank of Israel has advocated urgent measures to reactivate the economy of the West Bank. Half of the credit resources of the area are in Jordanian banks. Credit sponsored by the Israel Government for West Bank merchants and relief jobs are two of the principal Government moves to aid the West Bank economy.

Israel is also planning a major change in agricultural production in the occupied West Bank section involving cutbacks in some crops and efforts to induce West Bank Arab farmers to plant new kinds of crops to meet conditions created by Israel’s June victory, an Israeli official said here.

Ariel Amiad, the Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture, also described here a long-range development program to speed settlement of Arab refugees in Arab territory now under Israeli control. The plans provide for more intensive cultivation and irrigation which could make the Jordan River Valley between Jericho and Beisan “a paradise.” He stressed that such projects were being planned for implementation, if a political decision about the future of the occupied sections made such a program necessary.

The official said that the crop changes will include cutbacks in tomatoes, watermelon and sweet melons because normal markets for such foods have been cut off by the occupation. He said West Bank farmers will be encouraged to plant green vegetables, tobacco and cotton. The changes will become effective when the next planting season starts in October.

He also noted that the Jordanian Government had discouraged West Bank farmers from tobacco growing because this conflicted with the interests of East Bank farmers. He added that the West Bank farmers also had no experience in growing cotton. They will be taken to see farms operated by Israeli Arabs who grow cotton. Israeli Arabs also will be sent to West Bank sections as instructors.

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