Letter dated 25 February 1950 and Memorandum
received by the Principal Secretary of the Conciliation Commission from
the Palestine Arab Refugee Congress
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.
Sgd/ AZIZ SHIHADEH,
Secretary General of
the Executive Committee
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:-
7. The position following the termination of the Mandate and as a result of the Palestine Armistice Agreements now stands as follows: -
8. The extent of Arab owned land in the Jewish controlled area of Palestine is shown in the following table:-
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:
(c) To obtain information regarding all assets of the Government and to value them.
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.
Former Land Officer (Taxation)
Department of Land Settlement,
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Terres appartenant à des Arabes et pertes en Palestine - CCNUP / Lettre / MEMO du Congrès des refugiés arabes de Palestine. Français