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A/AC.25/Org/35
16 February 1951

ORIGINAL: ENGLISH

UNITED NATIONS CONCILIATION COMMISSION FOR PALESTINE


Memorandum on Arab immovable property in Palestine falling within the area occupied by the Jews
__________

Note on the safeguarding of Arab immovable property in the territory of Palestine occupied by the Jews and income therefrom pending final settlement of the problem
__________

The two papers were written by Mr. Sami HADAWI, who was Land Officer in charge of valuation in the Taxation

Section of the Department of Land Settlement of the Government of Palestine*

The first deals with certain specific aspects of the problem of compensation in Palestine and makes some suggestions for solving it.

The second deals with the protection of Arab immovable property in Israel by appointing a Trustee, whose functions are analyzed in paragraph 11.


__________
*Mr. Sami Hadawi submitted to the Conciliation Commission a "Memorandum on the subject of Arab Property and Losses in Palestine as a result of the Jewish Occupation" (document ORG/33).



Letter dated 21 October 1950
addressed to the Economic Adviser of the Commission
by Mr. Sami Hadawi

I enclose herewith a memorandum covering the points which we discussed at our meeting of the 9th of October, 1950.

The memorandum embodies :-

a) some of the important difficulties which will be encountered when dealing with the problem of Arab refugee immovable property within the territory of Palestine occupied by the Jews;

b) comments on some of the points raised; and

c) proposals for the setting up of an organization to investigate claims and the manner in which I suggest the investigation should be conducted.

2. It will be observed that reference is made throughout the memorandum to Arab refugees”. It should be noted that there are Palestine refugees’ other than Arab, such as, Armenians, Greeks, Germans, British, etc. who will have to be compensated if they are unable to return to their homes and property.

3. I am always at the service of the Commission to furnish further information on any point which may not be clear or is not sufficiently explained in the memorandum.


Yours sincerely,

Sgd/ (Sami Hadawi)

Department of Land Taxation
Ramallah, Jordan.




ANNEX I
MEMORANDUM

on Arab Immovable Property in Palestine

falling Within the area occupied by the Jews

By SAMI HADAWI, M.B.E.,
Director of Land Taxation, Western Jordan,
Formerly Land Officer in charge of Valuation
for Taxation Section of Department of Land
Settlement; Government of Palestine.


1. It is noted with great satisfaction that the Palestine Conciliation Commission is now considering more seriously the necessity of dealing with the problem of Arab immovable property which now falls: within the territory of Palestine occupied by the Jews irrespective of the political outcome whether or not the Arab refugees will be allowed to return to their homes and property.

2. The Syrian Government, on the other hand, has taken the initiative and has entered into agreement with me to set up a department to deal with the immovable properties of the 85,000 refugees who reside within the boundaries of Syria. This action was as a result of the memorandum prepared by me and. submitted to the Palestine Conciliation Commission by the Ramallah Refugees Congress early this year. Copies of this memorandum had been circulated in various quarters and the Syrian Government was the first to respond.

3. The step taken by the Syrian Government is appreciated, but it must be realized that the task will be in complete if it is restricted only to the refugees in Syria. It is hoped that this small effort of the Syrian Government will shortly be included in an organization of the United Nation to cover all Palestine Arab refugees wherever they may be, Since it is admitted that the problem must be faced, the sooner it is undertaken the misery of the refugees whose position has new become intolerable.

4. The intention of this second memorandum is to request the Palestine Conciliation Commission to earnestly urge the United Nations to take action without further delay. At the same time, I wish to draw attention to the fact that the task before the United Nations is not an easy one, particularly as the investigation will have to be conducted outside the boundaries of Palestine and with very little or no documentary evidence at the disposal of either the claimants or the investigators. I give hereunder examples of some of the difficulties which will be encountered, and I venture to offer comments on certain points which affect the issue and make proposals, in general terms, as to how I believe the survey could be successfully completed within the shortest period possible.

5. Land tenure in. Palestine is classified under five main classes or categories and these will have to be taken into account in dealing with the valuation of the property. For example, the value of two similar holdings each falling in a different category may not be identical. Briefly; the land categories in Palestine maybe summarized as follows: -

Notes:- (i) During the period of the Mandate, the Palestine Government restricted the conversion of Miri land to Mulk except in cases where the property was required to be dedicated by a recognized religious body into a trust or waqf. Mulk properties held by individuals were acquired during the Turkish regime and exist mainly in the older parts of towns. 6. The majority of the land in Palestine was, at the time of the British Mandate, either unregistered in the Land Registry, or, where there was registration, this was so much out of date that it was valueless. The Government, therefore, decided in 1927 to carry out a settlement of title to land. The area settled and proper titles issued in respect thereof between the period 1928 and 15th May 1948, amounted to some 5 million dunums out of a total land area for Palestine (excluding the Beersheba-Sub District) of 13 million dunums. Of the 5 million dunums of settled land, about 250,000 dunums now fall within the area occupied by the Egyptian forces, and approximately 225,000 dunums fall in the western part of the Jordan. Out of the total area of 20 million dunums in Jewish hands, 12 million dunums comprise the Beersheba Sub-District, better known as the Negev, thus leaving about 8 million dunums for the rest of Palestine. Of this 8 million dunums, about 4½ million dunums are settled, and it might be safe to assume that about half of the remaining 3½ million dunums are recorded in the Land Registry, leaving the other half as unregistered property.

7. In order to have an idea of the complications that will confront the organization entrusted with the task of carrying out the investigation, I quote below examples of some of the problems that will be encountered:

8. The records which will be required to be consulted during the course of the investigation are - 9. It will not be possible to carry out the investigation and obtain satisfactory results through contact with the owners only. Nor will the task be complete if particulars were taken from the land registry and land taxation records alone. It will be necessary to combine both, first obtaining whatever information the refugee can give and then check this with whatever official records are available. I am therefore of the opinion that the investigation should be conducted broadly along the following lines: 10. Other problems which will have to be considered and decided in the early stages of the investigation are - 11. I have the following comments and recommendations to make on the points raised in paragraph 10 above: - I therefore maintain that the only equitable method of valuation is as follows: - I suggest that Palestine should be divided into its seven known topographical districts or regions, namely: -


The Galilee and Judean Hills;
The Maritime or Coastal Plain extending from Ras as el Naqura in the north to Gaza in the south;
The Plain of Esdraelon;
The Valley of Jezreel;
The Jordan Valley;
The Hule Basin;
The Beersheba Sub-District or Negev.

12. I should like to point out at this juncture that the present proposed assessment of Arab property is not governed by the usual normal circumstances, that is that the property is being offered for sale by a willing seller and that it is being purchased by a willing purchaser in the open market. It is in effect a forced wholesale transfer of Arab ownership in which the individual owner has no choice or say. This being so, I consider that whatever system of valuation is applied, the refugee has the right of compensation for disturbance in addition to the value of his property or interest, and I therefore suggest that the valuation should be divided into two parts, namely: 13. The refugee continues to harbour fear that compensation may be paid in a lump sum to the Arab State in respect of those refugees who reside within that Arab State’s territory for the purpose of resettlement. The refugee is aware from statements made by Arab politicians on behalf of their countries that his presence in their territories is undesired, and therefore, with the exception of the Jordan, it is not likely that the Arab States would approve the settlement of the Palestine refugees permanently in their countries in return for a lump sum. Assuming they do, the refugee will definitely refuse to forego his individual rights in his property. Such a step would be contrary to the simple democratic principles of equity and justice, and certainly would not be in keeping with the United Nations Charter. In defiance of these rights which are being enjoyed by the citizens of the United Nations, the Palestine Arab has been driven out of his home and country; his belongings looted; his means of livelihood destroyed; and he is now being forced to part with his hard-earned property. The least that the refugee now demands is to be allowed to choose his place of future residence if he is not to be allowed to return to his home, and to choose his own mode of living. For these obvious reasons, I am of the opinion that individual payments should be made under the auspices of the United Nations.

14. On the assumption that individual payment will be made, it has been suggested that partial compensation should be paid as soon as possible and without awaiting a final settlement. The suggestion in my opinion is not practical until it is proved that the claimant has a right to compensation. Besides, the amount may be insufficient for re-instatement and will therefore not serve the purpose intended. It is, however, realized that compensation must be paid within the shortest time possible, and I can only suggest that the investigation should be carried out in such a way as to make it possible for the maximum number of claims to be paid off soon after the commencement of the investigation.

15. I have often been asked to give an estimate of the value of Arab property in Palestine. I am unable to answer this question without some study. It will, however, be possible to give a rough estimate within a reasonable margin of accuracy after about six months from the date of commencement of the investigation.

16. It is estimated that there will be at least 250,000 persons to be interviewed affecting some half a million parcels or one million claims to be dealt with. For example, one claimant may own several parcels or shares in parcels whilst one parcel may be co-owned by as many as 200 persons. Claimants to other rights in the parcel, such as mortgages, must also be considered. I estimate it will take at least five years to completed the investigation except in cases of dispute.

17. Finally, I suggest the immediate setting up of an organization under the direct auspices of the United Nations to carryout the investigation and settlement of claims. The organization should, in my opinion, be headed by a committee of three whose duties should be to lay down and direct the general policy and procedure to be followed. The membership of this committee should consist of -

A legal expert;
A financial expert; and
An expert who from previous experience has an intimate knowledge of the country; its soil; methods of cultivation; and systems of land tenure, land, settlement and land taxation; including the principles of land valuation.
The work should be centralized in a Head Office which should comprise five Departments, as follows: -

A District Office should be opened in each Arab State where refugees exist, and as many Sub-offices in each District as may be required.

A Chief Inspector should be appointed in the Head Office to act as liaison between the various District Offices to ensure uniformity of procedure and to supervise progress. Local inspectors will also be required for the Districts.

A staff of investigators will be required and their number will depend on the amount of work in each District or area.

It will not be easy to obtain suitable recruits, as all men of ability and knowledge have not remained idle until now. The work of this organization is most important and urgent, and therefore only men of ability and undoubted integrity should be selected, particularly for the “key” positions. Salaries must be sufficiently attractive to obtain the best men.


(signed) SAMI HADAWI
Ramallah

18th October, 1950


APPENDIX

to Memorandum dated 18th October, 1950 on
Arab Refugee Immovable Property in Palestine.

(Referred to in Para, 11 (a) (i) — page 8 of Memo)


1. Particulars of Property:
a) Owner - Dr. Emil Saleh Farah
b) Town- Haifa.
c) Quarter- Herzlia.
d) Street No - Herzlia No. 5.
e) Block No. - 10860.
f) Parcel No. - 32/1 and 32/2
g) Registration- Land Registry Vol. 29, folio 352, Deed No. 1182 dated 9.12.1931.
h) Area of Land- 1493 square metres,
i) Declared value on purchase- Palestine Pounds 1170.

2. Description of Property:

Two houses constructed of stone with cement ceiling between the years 1934 and 1937. Construction of high quality which has been well maintained. Particulars of buildings are as follows: -

a) Parcel 32/1: Basement- 154 square metres.
Ground floor - 307
1st Floor- 307
2nd Floor- 214
Out-building- 12994 sq. metres
b) Parcel 32/2Ground Floor-221
1st Floor-218
Out-building- 5444 sq. metres
Total building area: -1438 sq. metres

3. Details of Buildings:

a) Parcel 32/1:

Letting
No.
Floor
No.
No. of
rooms &
offices
G.A.V.
1947-1948
LP.
Name of Tenant
Rent per
month
LP.mils
Date of
letting
1
Basement
2 rooms
hall
kitchen
lav.
37
Bension Rappaport
5.-
1.1.40
2
"
2r,h,k,
1, b-l.
39
Naftali Stolsberg
5.-
1.6.40
3
Gr. Fl.
4r, h, k,
1, b-l.
90
Meir Florsheim
10.-
15.9.39
4
" "
3r, h, k,
1, b-l.
72
Nissan May
8.-
15.4.40
5
1st Fl.
4r, h,k,
1, b-l.
90
Zipser & L. Shutaman
10.-
7.10.40
6
" "
3r, h, k,
1, b-l
72
Meir Teister
6.25
1.7.40
7
2nd "
2r, k, b, 1.
90
Shalon Fverstein
10.-
15.1.48
8
" "
3r, h, k, l, b-1.
Owner-occupier
15.-
assessed
9
O/B
1r, 1.
Sarah Feinbaum
6.-
3..2.47
Total Gross Annual Value: 490.-Total:
75.25

b) Parcel 32/2:


Letting
No.
Floor
No.
No. of rooms
shops and
offices.
G.A.V.
1947-1948
LP.
Name of Tenant
Rent
per
moth
LP.Mils
Date of
letting
1
G. Fl.
1 shop
45.1-
Max Adler
5.500
1.9.39
2
1 shop
45.1-
Pal. Govt. (Post Off.)
8.333
1.6.46
3
1 shop
45.1-
Julius Baum
5.250
1.3.41
4
1 shop
45.1-
David Peremolnik
5.500
1.1.41
5
2r, k, b-1.
42.1-
Sigmond Berger
6.-
15.9.41
6
1r, k, B-1.
36.1-
David Sendovsky
6.-
15.1.48
7
1st Fl
4r, h, k, l, b-1.
80.1-
Zion Dassa
11.-
1.1.40
8
3r,h,k,l, b-1.
3.-
Mordechai Meis
14.-
1.1.47
9
G/B
Kioski
-
Joan Shulhoff
6.-
15.5.47
Totals:-
401.-
67.583 or
811,000 per annuam
Total for both buildings:-
LP. 891.-

LP. 1714.- per annum
4. Valuation:
a) On basis of Gross Annual Value
for urban property tax purposes:
Years Purchase at 5%
Capital Value:
LP. 891.-
20 years
LP.17820.-
b) On basis of actual rents (Rents
subject to Rents Restriction Crd.)
Years Purchase at 5%
Capital Value:
LP 1714.-
20 years
LP.17820
c) On basis of market rental value
of years 1947-48:
Years Purchase at 5% being first
class building and very well
secured investment:
Capital Value:
LP. 2170 (for details see para. 5)


20 years
LP.43400.-
d) On basis of Construction:
i) Parcel 32/1-m.sc.
Net area of land -826LP.4,000.-LP. 3, 304-
Net area of building -982LP. 25.-LP. 24,550.-
Net area of out-bldg - 12LP. 15.-LP. 180.-
ii) Parcel 32/2 -
Net area of land594LP.5,000.-LP. 2,970.-
Net area of building439LP. 25.-LP. 10,975.-
Net area of out-bldg 5(Actual cost)LP. 220
iii) Fencing and terracing (120 metres run)LP 800
iv) CisternLP 200
v) Supervision & Architects fees at 6%LP. 2,591
Capital Value:-
LP. 45,790

5. Details of valuation of market rental value

(see paragraph 4 (c) above)

Parcel
No. of rooms
Actual rentals
Assessed
No.
or
Monthly
Yearly
rental
shops
LP.
LP.
value
LP.
32/1
2 rooms
5.-
60.-
84.-
2 rooms
5.-
60.-
96.-
4 rooms
10.-
120.-
180-
3 rooms
8,-
96.-
144-
4 rooms
10.-
120.-
180.-
3 rooms
6.250
75.-
144.-
2 rooms
10.-
120.-
102.-
3 rooms
15.-
180.-
180.- *
1 room
6.-
72.-
72.- *
75.250
903.-
1,182.-
32/2
1 shop
5,500
66.-
100.-
1 shop
8,333
100.-
100.- *
1 shop
5,250
63.-
100.-
1 shop
5,500
66.-
100.-
2 rooms
6.-
72.-
96.-
1 room
6.-
72.-
72.- *
4 rooms
11.-
132.-
180.-
3 rooms
14.-
168.-
168.- *
Kiosk
6.-
72.-
72.- *
67.583
811.-
988.-
Grand Total:-
LP.142.833
Monthly
LP. 1.714.-
Yearly
LP.2,170.-
Yearly
*It will be observed that assessed rental value agrees with actual rentals.



ANNEX II

N O T E,

on the safe-guarding of Arab immovable property
in the territory of Palestine occupied by the
Jews and income therefrom pending final settle-
ment of the problem.

By
SAMI HADAWI, M.B.E.


1. The General Assembly of the United Nations took a decision on the 12th of December, 1948, confirming the right of payment of compensation for losses sustained to property and to those Arabs who have no desire to return to their homes in Palestine.

2. Ever since that decision was taken nearly two years ago, we continued to hear declarations by statesmen of the Big Powers that the refugees must be allowed to return to their homes and that those who did not wish to return should be compensated. But no suggestion how and when this should take place, or any practical effort has so far been made to deal effectively with the problem, with the result that the decision has remained a dead letter.

3. The “refugee” problem has now come up again before the United Nations, and from statements so far made in the Political Committee as a result of the Reports submitted by the Palestine Conciliation Commission and General Kennedy, Head of the UNRWA, it appears that the discussion is centered mainly on the provision of an additional 50 million dollars needed to carry on the work of the UNRWA. And so it continues palliative after palliative in the hope apparently that the Palestine problem will solve itself.

4. A proposal re-affirming the decision of the General Assembly of 1948 has been tabled before the Political Committee, but the representative of the Jews has expressed in clear language Israelis refusal to comply with the decision of the United Nations to allow the refugees to return and has also gone so far as to state that Israel was unable financially to pay compensation even apparently to the extent of the value of Arab immovable property in Israel. Never has such a state of affairs existed in the history of the world, and no such thing as wholesale confiscation of property without value has been heard of. The Arab believes that the very same methods complained of by the Jews against Germany are now being exercised by them against the Arabs.

5. The appointment of a Custodian of Property of Absentees in Israel as required by international law and practice in times of war, is nothing but another camouflage to pretend to the world that the interests of the absentee are being safe-guarded until peace is restored. The refugee knows full well from his past experience of Jewish mentality and behaviour in Palestine, the real intentions of the Jews that there is nothing to expect from the Custodian when ultimately final settlement of the Palestine issue is made. Otherwise why are the activities of this Department so confidential? And why are those Arabs (and non-Arabs) now resident in Israel still deprived from the income derived from their properties? They are even not allowed an inspection of the accounts of the Custodian which relate to their properties.

6. It is understood from Jewish sources that the Custodian has so far allocated about 73,000 houses of absentees to some 200,000 Jews and that there remain approximately 60,000 persons to be provided for, not to mention the stream of immigrants that are entering the country each month. And so the Arab looks on to see his property occupied by strangers whilst the United Nations stands idle in an age in which we hear so much of such expressions as “rights of man”, “freedom of mankind”, “democracy”, justice and. equity for all” etc., etc. It remains to be seen, however, what effect such a policy on the part of the United Nations will have on the inhabitants of the Middle East in the future.

7. What the refugee demands from the United Nations is not charity through an extension from year to year of the activities of the UNRWA, but his natural rights to his own property in the same way as all citizens of democratic countries are allowed to exercise their rights freely over their properties. The United Nations are responsible for the creation of the present state of affairs and so far they have failed to give justice to a people who through no fault of theirs were ousted from their homes and country. The least that is now expected from this world organization is to safe-guard the interests of absentees from further exploitation and destruction until a solution can be found to the political issue.

8. It is realized that many practical difficulties will confront the return of the refugees to their homes even were the Jews to agree to it. It is also realized how impossible it will be for the Jews to purchase the immovable properties of absentees en bloc, just as it is unreasonable to expect the United Nations to foot the bill on behalf of the Jews. But no matter how long it will take to solve the Palestine Problem, the individual right of ownership of immovable property is unquestionable and cannot be confiscated or appropriated without its full value. The case will ultimately have to be dealt with and the sooner it is the better for all concerned.

9. Although it has been stated that the activities of UNRWA — as its name indicates — are only to provide relief for the refugees until a solution is found to the problem, we are aware that the real intention is to settle the refugees as permanently as possible. I must here point out that the greater part of the activities of this Agency is directed to the peasant and poorer classes whilst the land-owner and landlord type is not benefitting from this relief or semi-permanent re-settlement. The fact that he was obliged to lease accommodation in neighbouring countries at exhorbitant rentals and provide himself with furniture to maintain to an extent his previous standard of living has virtually reduced the majority of them to a state of financial embarrassment which is likely to undermine their very existence if an urgent solution to their problem is not forthcoming. It is this type of refugee who is suffering most and who now requires the sympathy and help of the United Nations, and I believe it is the duty of this world organization not to allow the cream of the Palestine people to degenerate because of want at a time that the income from their properties in Israel is sufficient to maintain them until their fate is decided.

10. It is therefore imperative that the United Nations should this time take immediate and firm action to settle the question of the return of immovable properties to their owners without awaiting the settlement of the political issue, whether absentees are allowed to return to their homes or not, and I believe this is possible if only the Arab refugee can find a hearing at Lake Success. The Arab, however, is aware that the Jews will strongly oppose such a proposal because, by holding Arab property, they will continue to profit financially and economically, and in addition hope that the owner-refugee will sooner or later compel the Arab States to make peace with Israel on the latter’s terms. The United Nations should not be deterred from giving justice notwithstanding the objections raised by an aggressor.

11. I therefore venture to make the following proposals which, if considered in the spirit in which they are submitted, will help restore justice to a people who have by now suffered enough : -

It is realized that the transfer of currency will raise a problem, but the United Nations through its proper agency should be able to deal with this,

12. It is realized that not all owners of immovable property will benefit from the scheme proposed as it will not be possible to lease all agricultural lands in Palestine either because of lack of a sufficient agricultural population in Israel or that the parcels are too small or the land is not sufficiently fertile to justify their cultivation. There will also be many orange groves which for want of care have been allowed to dry up, and to revive them or uproot the trees to utilize the land for other purposes will require much expenditure and labour. The same may be said of buildings in urban and rural areas that have become either unfit for occupation or have been demolished by the Jews. In such cases, the Administrator should be empowered to use his discretion by either arranging sale of the property after consultation with the owner or by carrying out the necessary repairs to make the building fit for occupation.

Where the sum realized is in respect of rental, this should be paid to the owner, but where the sale price is small, the money should not be turned over to the owner but should be deposited in the Fund to be used in any scheme of re-settlement of the refugee whether within or Outside the boundaries of Palestine.

13. The above are but general outlines of the proposal and if acceptable will have the following results : -

(Sgd.) Sami Hadawi.

8th November, 1950.


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