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October 1930 Hope-Simpson and House of Commons on Restriction of Jewish Immigration to Palestine

John Hope SimpsonSir John-Hope Simpson:

It had hitherto been taken for granted that a substantial amount of cultivable land was still available for the further expansion of Jewish colonization without injury to Arab interests. The amount (e.g. of land) available had been put by some Zionists as high as 16,000,000 dunums (e.g. 4,000,000 Acres ) or more; the commissioner of Land had estimated it at 10,592,000; (these estimates excluded the Beersheba Sub-District) BUT SIR JOHN HOPE SIMPSON’S FIGURE WAS ONLY 6,544,000 DUNUMS (E.G. 1,636,000 ACRES). From that basic calculation he drew two startling conclusions.

(1) If all the cultivable land in Palestine were divided up among the Arab agricultural population, there would not be enough to provide every family with a decent livelihood.

(2) Until further development of Jewish land and of irrigation had taken place and the Arabs had adopted better methods of cultivation, “there is no room for a single additional settler if the standard of life of the fellaheen is to remain at its present level.” On state lands, similarly, there was no room, pending development, for Jewish settlers.

But Sir John-Hope Simpson went on to record his “personal belief . . . That with thorough development of the country there will be room, not only for all the present agricultural population on a higher standard of life than it as present enjoys, but for not less than 20,000 families of settlers from outside.”

Parliamentary Debate: House of Commons

“The House will no doubt remember that when Sir John Hope-Simpson made his first report on this subject in 1930, the Government took the problem of the landless Arab very seriously. They appointed special Commission under Mr. French and Mr. Justice Webb to find out how many Arabs had been dispossessed because their land had been purchased by the Jews. That commission sent out agents into every village where Arab land had been purchased by the Jews and asked for claims from landless Arabs who had been dispossessed. They selected admirable lands, with excellent irrigation on which they offered new settlements to these claimants, if their claims were proved. THEY GOT 1,000 CLAIMS OF WHICH MR. FRENCH AND MR. JUSTICE WEBB ALLOWED 600, 100 TOOK UP THE GOVERNMENT OFFER OF NEW SETTLEMENTS ELSEWHERE. OF THESE 100, 50 DESERTED THEIR NEW FARMS WITHIN A YEAR OR TWO AND WENT BACK TO THE VILLAGES FROM WHICH THEY CAME. Like the 500 who stayed at home in the first instance and refused the government’s offer, they found that they were better off working in other ways in their own villages than if they went to the new land settlements which the government had offered

Source: Palestine Royal (Peel) Commission Report of July 1937 Cmd. 5479 pages (71-72); Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons Official Report. Volume 358. No. 35

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