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A/AC.25/Org/33
4 March 1950

ORIGINAL: ENGLISH


UNITED NATIONS CONCILIATION COMMISSION FOR PALESTINE

Letter dated 25 February 1950 and Memorandum
received by the Principal Secretary of the Conciliation Commission from
the Palestine Arab Refugee Congress

Sir, I have the honour of forwarding you the accompanied Memorandum on the question of Arab property, and losses in the Jewish-occupied area of Palestine,

This Memorandum was prepared, upon request of our Executive Committee, by Mr. Semi Hadawi, formerly Land Officer (Taxation) in the Mandatory Administration of Palestine. It contains a comprehensive and accurate study on Arab property, both before and after the hostilities in Palestine, as well as suggestions regarding the possible cooperation that the United Nations bodies may give with a view to the satisfactory implementation of the General Assembly Resolution of 11 December 1948, which fully recognized Arab proprietary rights in Palestine.

I would appreciate it very much that you kindly transmit this Memorandum to the Conciliation Commission now sitting in Geneva, and that you eventually inform our Committee of the reactions of the members of the Commission regarding the constructive suggestions contained in document.

RAMALLAH, 25 February 1950.



MEMORANDUM
ON THE SUBJECT OF ARAB PROPERTY AND LOSSES IN
PALESTINE AS A RESULT OF THE JEWISH OCCUPATION




I. Almost two years have passed since the British withdrawal from Palestine and the occupation of the major part of the country by the Jews. It is also just over a year since the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization took its decision of the 11th of December 1948, confirming the right of payment of compensation for losses maintained to property, and to those Arabs who have no desire to return to their homes.

2. Notwithstanding all that happened in Palestine, neither the Palestine Arab organizations or bodies nor the Arab Governments who took upon themselves to protect the interests of the Palestine Arab, took any steps to find out the extent of Arab property and losses in Palestine.

3. The onus of responsibility for this inactivity rests in the first place on the Palestine Arabs themselves, but their present plight and dispersal through out the Arab countries and their financial and moral embarrassments make it impossible for them to undertake such an investigation without the full financial support and help of the Arab Governments or the United Nations Organization.

4. Much has so far been said in the Press, and many statements have been made by representatives of the Arab Governments and others to the effect that Arab property in Palestine must be returned to its individual owner and that compensation must be paid to those who have suffered losses and to those who do not wish to return to their homes, and despite all this no effort has been made to start effective action. And while the Arabs stand idle, it is learned from the Press that the Jews have set up a special department to deal with Jewish losses, and it is understood that the collection of the necessary data has already been completed and that they estimate their losses at over eight million pounds.

5. It is a fact beyond argument that the collection of information regarding Arab property and losses in Palestine will be of benefit to the Arab refugees when the question of their destiny ultimately comes up for discussion; and further, it will assist the Arab delegates in their negotiations for an equitable and just settlement. The longer this problem is delayed, the more difficult and disastrous will its effects be on the life of the individual Arab family.

6. In order to give an idea of the magnitude of the problem, the following is a summary of the land area of Palestine before the termination of the Mandate, classified according be its agricultural productivity and ownership as between Arab, Jew, the Government, and other communities living and owning land in Palestine:-

(a) Palestine (excluding Beersheba Sub-District)
Arabs
Jews
Others
Govt.
Total
(Area in metric dunums)
Town areas
60,607
74,619
13,643
12,527
*22,239
183,635
Village areas
33,527
41,695
1,269
383
76,874
Citrus:
135,368
139,728
4,915
1,437
281,448
Other fruit trees:
1,022,610
91,649
11,642
18,165
1,144,066
Irrigable land:
(by free flow only)
31,455
3,597
--
30,098
65,150
Cultivable land:
4,541,543
876,620
65,047
231,664
5,714,874
Non-cultivable land:
4,813,289
193,044
45,529
372,687
5,424,549
Forests:
--
5,516
--
849,911
855,427
    Sub Total:
10,638,399
1,426,468
142,045
1,539,111
13,746,023
(b) Beersheba Sub-District
Town areas:
1,526
80
5
1,815
*464
3,890
Cultivable land:
1,934,849
65,151
--
--
2,000,000
Non-cultivable land:
--
--
--
10,573,110
10,573,110
Sub-Total:
1,936,375
65,231
5
10,575,389
12,577,000
Total area for
Palestine:
12,574,774
1,491,699
142,050
12,114,500
26,323,023
Percentage in relation
to total area:
47,79%
5,67%
0,54%
46,00%
100,00%
* Area of Roads and Railways. NOTE: 1 metric dunum -- 1000 square metres.

7. The position following the termination of the Mandate and as a result of the Palestine Armistice Agreements now stands as follows: -

Jordan
controlled
area
Egyptian
controlled
area
Jewish
controlled
area
Total
(dunums)
Town areas:
19,350
12,370
155,805
187,525
Village areas:
13,827
360
62,687
76,874
Citrus:
700
2,600
278,148
281,448
Other fruit trees:
631,000
26,000
487,066
1,144,066
Irrigable land:
(by free flow only)
10,000
--
55,150
65,150
Cultivable land:
1,492,000
150,000
6,072,874
7,714,874
Non-cultivable land:
3,115,123
113,600
12,768,866
15,997,659
Forests:
273,000
45,000
537,427
855,427
    Total:
5,555,000
350,000
20,418,023
26,323,023
Percentage in relation
to total area:
21,10%
1,33%
77,57%
100,00%

8. The extent of Arab owned land in the Jewish controlled area of Palestine is shown in the following table:-

Arabs
Jews
Others
Government
Total
(Area in metric dunums)
Town areas
36,225
74,564
12,834
32,182
155,805
Village areas
19,365
41,607
1,269
343
62,687
Citrus:
132,449
139,728
1,102
1,156
278,148
Other fruit trees:
373,719
90,706
6,021
17,250
487,066
Irrigable land:
(by free flow only)
30,955
3,597
--
20,598
55,150
Cultivable land:
4,959,995
935,509
57,859
119,511
6,072.874
Non-cultivable land:
1,928,989
185,169
22,600
10,632,108
12,768,866
Forests:
--
5,516
--
531,911
537,427
    Total:
10,638,399
1,475,766
105,231
11,355,059
20,418,023
Percentage in relation
to total area:
36,64%
7,23%
0,52%
55,61%
100,00%

9. It will be observed from the tables in paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 of this memorandum that the extent of Arab-owned land in Palestine is considerable and that Jewish-owned land as compared to the total Area of the country is less than 6%.

10. Apart from personal losses, the Palestine Arabs as a community are entitled to a share in the country’s assets and wealth. It is essential that a record of assessment should be made of all Government property, such as public lands and buildings, post and telegraph installations, ports, railways, roads, etc., so that when the question of their settlement comes up for discussion with the British Government and the Jews, the Arab Governments will have sufficient material in support of their case an behalf of the Palestine Arabs.

11. The work involved in the survey of Arab losses is outside the competence of any individual body or organization, and it is questionable whether it will be of any value if undertaken by one single-Arab Government, as such endeavour will be incomplete since the Palestine Arabs are dispersed throughout the Arab world. It is therefore an operation which should be undertaken under the auspices of either the Arab League or the Clapp Mission, as either of these two institutions possesses the financial means and influence to carry it out successfully

12. It is suggested that an organization be set up without further delay, headed by one who has had vast experience and possesses considerable knowledge of work of this nature assisted by persons who have intimate knowledge of the country and conditions therein prior to the termination of the Mandate. This organization should have branches in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, where the bulk of the Palestine refugees exist. The functions of the branch organization should be:

13. The duty of the Head Office should be to examine as far as possible the accuracy of the material received from the branch offices and tabulate it under its respective headings, and to value immovable property at the prices prevailing in 1947 prior to the commencement of the disturbances and to assess in terms of money Arab losses and damages so far incurred.

14. The establishment required for such an organization depends on the amount of work involved in each country, but it must be realized that only persons fully qualified in valuation and statistics should be selected for the “key” positions.


Prepared by the “PALESTINE ARAB REFUGEE CONGRESS”,
by:

SANI HADAWI
Former Land Officer (Taxation)
Department of Land Settlement,
Palestine:


1 February 1950.


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Terres appartenant à des Arabes et pertes en Palestine - CCNUP / Lettre / MEMO du Congrès des refugiés arabes de Palestine. Français