Acquisition de Terres en Palestine – Etude de CEDIPP Français
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As a result of these acts, land and property belonging to the Palestinians who had left their country fell into the hands of the Israeli population and authorities after the Arab-Israeli war of 1948.
This study on the Jewish acquisition of land in Palestine shows that there were several stages in the dispossession of the Arabs and that this was effected despite the objections of the international community, which had recommended in General Assembly resolution 194 (III) that Palestinian Arabs wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so.
The history of the acquisition of agricultural land in Palestine and of the land cultivation system before partition will give the reader same idea of the disparity between Jews and Arabs with respect to land ownership in Palestine. The State of Israel has perpetuated this disparity, mainly through the confiscation of land belonging to the Palestinian Arabs and its policy of Jewish settlements, which is also discussed in this study. The acquisition of land in Palestine cannot be discussed without giving the background to the ownership of agricultural land in the country.
After the military operations of 1948 and before the signing of the Armistice Agreements, the State of Israel had taken over the sub-districts of Jaffa, Ramleh, Haifa, Nazareth, Beisan and Tiberias and a substantial part of those of Acre and Safad. The Jewish forces were also occupying the coastal area of the sub-district of Tulkarm and the western sector of Jerusalem. Thus, about 20 million dunams of land in all, 7/ including some of the land reserved for the Arabs in the 1947 partition plan, that is to say, just over three-quarters of all the land in Palestine, came under the control of the military forces of the State of Israel.
The military occupation of Arab-owned lands started in the first few months of 1948 and was stepped up in April of that year, when whole towns like Beisan, Jaffa, Acre, Lydda and Ramleh and the Arab sections of the towns of Haifa, Safad and Jerusalem were taken over by the Haganah forces.8/ In May of the same year - 1948 - in view of the enormous number of Palestinians that had been driven from their land and property by the military operations, the United Nations appointed a Mediator, one of whose main tasks was to promote the well-being of the inhabitants of Palestine with the aid of the United Nations specialized agencies. In December of the same year, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 194 (III), the operative part of which called upon the Provisional Government of Israel to permit and facilitate the return of the Palestinians to their homes, their land and their property.
By the same resolution, the United Nations General Assembly established a Conciliation Commission, one of whose main tasks was to assist in securing the implementation of resolution 194 (III). Another of the Commission's tasks was to achieve conciliation between the different parties to the conflict and to facilitate the return of the Palestinian Arabs to their homes, their land and their property. The Conciliation Commission made efforts to mediate over a period of years, the last of these efforts being made in 1951 (Paris Conference), but it was not successful in achieving a solution that would be acceptable to all the parties to the conflict. And so about 700,000 9/ Palestinian Arabs were forced to live away from their homeland, the only exceptions being a few thousand Arabs who were authorized by the Israeli authorities to rejoin their families in Israel.
Although there is disagreement about the actual area of the land abandoned by the Palestinians, all the analysts agree that it is between 16 and 20 million dunams in area. 10/ In the Negev, for instance, somewhat more than 12 million dunams,11/ fell into the hands of the Israeli authorities. And despite the controversy about it, the analysts all agree also that more than 4 million dunams of the land abandoned by the Palestinians is fertile and very favourable to agriculture and that it is the private property of Palestinian Arabs.