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Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Zionist and Palestinian Land Ownership, 1945

From Village Statistics (Jerusalem: Palestine Government, 1945). It was subsequently published as United Nations map no 94(b) in August 1950. As appears in Khalidi, Walid. Before Their Diaspora, Washington DC: Institute of Palestine Studies, 1992.

The category of 'public ownership' under the British Mandate derived from that known as miri under the Ottoman system of land tenure. Subsumed under the latter category, however, in addition to state domain, were many other subcategories that admitted a whole range of private and communal usufruct and leasehold.

Zionist and Palestinian landownership in percentages by subdistrict, 1945

Acre: Palestinian 87 percent Zionists 3 percent Public & Other 10 percent

Safed Palestinian 68 percent Zionist 18 percent Public & Other 14 percent

Haifa Palestinian 42 percent Zionist 35 percent Public & Other 23 percent

Nazareth Palestinian 52 percent Zionist 28 percent Public & Other 20 percent

Tiberias Palestinian 51 percent Zionist 38 percent Public & Other 11 percent

Jenin Palestinian 84 percent Zionist Less than 1 percent Public & other 16 percent

Beisan Palestinian 44 percent Zionist 34 percent Public & Other 22 percent

Tulkarm Palestinian 78 percent Zionist 17 percent Public & other 5 percent

Nablus Palestinian 87 percent Zionist 1 percent Public & Other 16 percent

Jaffa Palestinian 47 percent Zionist 39 percent Public & Other 14 percent

Ramleh Palestinian 77 percent Zionist 14 percent Public & Other 19 percent

Ramallah Palestinian 99 percent Zionist less than 1 percent Public & Other 1 percent

Jerusalem Palestinian 84 percent Zionist 2 percent Pub & Other 14 percent

Gaza Palestinian 75 percent Zionist 4 percent Public & Other 21 percent

Hebron Palestinian 96 percent Zionist less than 1 percent public & Other 4 percent

Beersheba Palestinian 15 percent Zionist less than 1 percent Public & Other 85 percent

Further evidence of Arab land ownership:

-The CCP Refugee Office estimated that although only a little more than a quarter was considered cultivable, more than 80 percent of Israel's total area of 20,850 km.sq. represented land abandoned by the Arab refugees. Three-quarters of the former Arab land was sub-marginal land or semi-desert in the Negeb.
(The Establishment of the State of Israel as a Jewish State from Chapter I in: Israel –An Apartheid State, by Uri Davis, Zed Books, London and New Jersey, 1987)

-“The vast properties defined under the Absentee Property Law (1950) as 'absentee property' can be further assessed if one recalls that, until 1947, individual or corporate Jewish land ownership in Palestine did not exceed 7 percent, or 10 percent of the territories that came under Israeli rule and occupation following the 1948-9 war. Of the remainder, according to the Israeli Custodian of Absentee Property, almost 70 percent of the territory of pre-1967 Israel consists of land classified as 'absentee property':
The Custodian of Absentee Property does not choose to discuss politics. But when asked how much of the land of the state of Israel might potentially have two claimants - an Arab and a Jew holding respectively a British Mandate and an Israeli deed to the same property - Mr. Manor [the Custodian in 1980] believes that 'about 70 percent' might fall into that category (Robert Fisk, 'The Land of Palestine, Part Eight: The Custodian of Absentee Property', The Times, 24 December, 1980)”
(same source as the first one)

- The total area of Palestine is 26,320,505 dunums. According to the Survey of Palestine prepared in December 1945 and January 1946 for the information of the Anglo-American committee of inquiry by the British Mandate for the United Nations prior to proposing the 1947 partition plan P. 566, 94.22 percent of the total area of Palestine belongs to Arabs and other non-Jews; 5.8 percent belonged to Jews. The majority of Arab owned land in Palestine was uncultivable (16,925,805 dunums).

- Subcommittee 2 of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestine Question stated in its report to the United Nations General Assembly the following:
Closely connected with the distribution of population is the factor of land ownership in the proposed Jewish State. The bulk of the land in the Arab State, as well as in the proposed Jewish State, is owned and possessed by Arabs. This is clear from the following statistics furnished to the Sub-Committee by the United Kingdom representative, showing the respective percentages of Arab and Jewish ownership of land in the various sub-districts of Palestine.
(Official Records of the Second Session of the General Assembly Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestine Question, Summary Records of Meetings, 25 September-25 November, 1947, pp. 292-293.)

-Although about half of the total are of Palestine is the Negev area which a considerable amount of is either desert or unfit for cultivation, Arabs owned the vast majority of it. According to the UNCCP working paper prepared by the commission’s land expert on the methods and techniques of identification and valuation of Arab refugee immovable property holdings in Israel, the Negev lands belonged to the Palestinian Arabs even though many of it was uncultivable. see Paragraph 15


- the British Mandate records affirm that 12,600,000 Dunums of Negev land belonged to the Bedouins (Arabs).
(Mandate records 1937. See Penny Maddrell, The Beduin of the Negev, Minority Rights Group, Report no.81 (1990) p.5)

- In a Progress report of the United Nations Consolation Committee for Palestine (UNCCP) dated 20 November 1951, the following was stated:

“The total extent of the abandoned land which has passed to Jewish hands is estimated by the Commission's Refugee Office at 16,324 square kilometers and its total value at £P 100 million."

In other words, of “Israel”’s total area of 20,850 km.sq, 16,324 Km.sq. (almost 78% of “Israel”) was land abandoned by Arabs according to the UNCCP.
Concerning the Negev, the document stated:

“In the Negev, 12,138 square kilometers have changed hands [land formerly held by Arabs, now by Jews], of which 10,303 square kilometers are uncultivable and 1,835 square kilometers are cultivable.”
Annex A, Paragraph 1.)

- UN document dated 3 September 1947 the Report of the General assembly was discussing several issues relating to the Palestine question such as the elements of the conflict, religious sites, and different proposed solutions. Among the issues discussed was “the conflicting claims” in which both the Arab and the Jewish claim to the issue is presented, followed by an appraisal by the U.N. expressing it’s opinion and analysis of each claim. Under the appraisal of the Arab claim Paragraph 164 the following is stated:

The Arab population, despite the strenuous efforts of Jews to acquire land in Palestine, at present remains in possession of approximately 85 per cent of the land. The provisions of the land transfer regulations of 1940, which gave effect to the 1939 White Paper policy, have severely restricted the Jewish efforts to acquire new land.
Paragraph 164)

So according to this U.N. document, Arabs in 1947 were possessing 85% of the total area of the land of Palestine
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