The mandatory period saw two contradictory phenomena concerning the enlargement of Palestine arable areas and their cultivation. On one side, through the fellahs hard work reclamation, a huge increase of the cultivable areas of Mandatory Palestine,and on the other, the sterilisation of the best Palestinian arable lands bought by the Zionists from the effendis, (landlords from Palestine and neighbouring Arab countries) reserved for a future colonization by Jewish "pioneers". These phenomena cannot be understood if we do not take into account the fact that the main aim of the Zionist movement was not to produce the food needed by the Jewish population of Palestine, but to occupy the Palestinians most fertile land ethnically cleansed of their fellahs. The Jewish acquired land areas, on condition that their Palestininan tenants should be removed. The acquired land was considered by the Zionist leaders as the nucleus of the future Jewish State. As the Zionist movement collected enough money in order to feed its pioneers, the agricultural production of the acquired land became a secondary concern. As for the Palestinian fellahs, expulsed from the effendis latifundia land sold to the Jews, land they cultivated generation after generation from time immemorial, they had no choice, in order to survive, than to reclaim mountainous and arid uncultivated land not inscribed in the cadaster. The Palestinians relatively high annual increase - between 1920 and 1945 their numbers more than doubled - was another reason which forced many of the sons of the Palestinian fellahs to go and reclaim new incultivated land.

The Palestinian agricultural economy was in full swing during the mandatory period. The Palestinian share croppers and their families, removed from the land they cultivated since time immemorial, were adding each year, by hard manual work, tens of thousands of dunums to the Palestinian cultivated areas patrimony. During the thirty years of British occupation, the Palestinians added between 2,000,000 to 2,500,000 dunums to the country cultivable areas, bringing in 1944 the total to 9,200,000 dunums. During the same period, the Jews were buying from feudal landlords more and more of the most fertile Palestinian land, rich in irrigation water, expulsing their fellahs and leaving the newly bought lands fallow, as a reserve for a "future colonization". Hereafter are some Zionist statistics data concerning Jewish land acquisitions and "reservations".
(in 1000 sq. km.)
1914 1927 1936 1944
Lands acquired 420 903 1393 1778
Lands cultivated 212 320 511 717
Lands "reserved" 208 583 882 1061
% "reserved" lands 50 65 59 60
Source: Gertz A.(editor) - Statistical Handbook of Jewish Palestine, 1947.


The Jewish Agency for Palestine, Jerusalem

Concerning the utilization by the Palestinians of their cultivated land during the Mandatory period, the hebrew study "The arab economy" of Z. Abramovich and Y. Gelfat, published in 1944 by the "Hakibboutz Hamehouhad", gives details on what the authors call, tremendous Palestinian agricultural development. The Palestinian agricultural production increase was not only due to an area increase, but also to an increase in yield per dunum. It did not only apply to staple food crops, but also to export crops, such as citrus fruits. The use of tractors, chemical fertilizers and selected seeds was increasing yearly. Here are some extracts of reports submitted by the Mandatory Government to the League of Nations concerning the development of the Palestinian agriculture. In 1929, one of these reports declared: "The increased use by the the Palestinians of more and more agricultural machinery and chemical fertilizers must be emphasized". In 1930, another report underlined the fellahs demand of selected seeds.

According to Abramovich and Gelfat, notwithstanding all apprehensions on the rightfullness of the Mandatory statistics concerning the development of the Palestinians agricultural sector, one thing is evident and clear: the Palestinian fellahs did everything in their power in order to increase the production and the intensification of their agricultural branches whose production could be sold on the local market (green vegetables, olives, eggs, chicken, milk, meat) or on the foreign markets (citrus fruits and bananas).

The sowing of cereals was in 1931 3,557,000 dunums.(no Mandatory statistics exist for the twenties) In 1940,it had reached 5,000,000 dunums.
In 1922, the Palestinian vegetables area reached 30,000 dunums. In 1940, it extended on 170,000 dunums, i.e. almost six times larger. But if in 1922 the total crop was 20,000 tons, by 1940 it reached 150.000 tons, more than seven times greater.

The development of Palestinian fruit plantations during the Mandatory period was tremendous. In 1922 the olive tree plantations comprised 120,000 dunums. In 1945, they extended on 600,000 dunums, and their production reached 80,000 tons. Total fruit plantations, excluding citrus fruits, passed from 200.000 dunums in 1922 to 1,000,000 dunums in 1945, meaning a fivefold increase in area and much more in fruit production. (Goor A. and Rappoport Z.- The country's fruits. Hassadeh Editions, 1949, pp. 167 (in hebrew)) During the same period the Palestinian population only doubled.

The development of the citrus branch by the Palestinians was also spectacular. In 1914, the total area of Palestinian citrus orchards was 20,000 dunums. By the end of the thirties, it had reached 140,000 dunums, a sevenfold increase, almost the same area as in the Jewish sector. In 1914, their average production per dunum was 50 standard cases. In the thirties, it had reached 80. As for the Palestinian banana plantations in the Jordan valley, their area increased from 600 dunums in 1927 to 3,000 dunums by 1937.

Ludwig Samuel, in a book published by the "Jewish Agency", compares the agricultural field production of the Jewish and Palestian sector for 1943/4 in Palestine (Samuel L. - Jewish agriculture in Palestine. The Jewish Agency for Palestine, Jerusalem, 1946). The following table resumes the production in tons of the Jewish and Palestinian sectors for 1944:

Total Palestinian Jewish % of Jewish
cereals 249,000 215,000 34,000 14%
leguminous crops 9,000 9.000 - -
vegetables 134,000 95,000 39,000 29%
fruits(w. citrus) 76,000 65,000 11,000 14%
olives 50,000 50,000 - -
The development of Jewish animal production during the mandatory period, has very little to do with the production capacity of the land taken from the Palestinians. It was an agro-industry, based on the import of cereals and other animal foodstuffs, and their transformation into milk, eggs and meat. This agricultural production was in fact a destructive food production, with a loss of 4 to 9 edible vegetable calories for each edible animal calorie produced. As for the Palestinians animal production, it was based on pasture and local field crops. Even so, the Palestinian production was far above the Jewish one. The Palestinian meat production reached 11,000 tons against 2,000 in the Jewish sector. Palestinian poultry meat production was twice more important than the Jewish one - 4,000 against 2,000 tons -. Only in milk - 69 million liters against 61 in the Jewish sector, and eggs - 72 million in each sector - the production was more or less similar. The Palestinian production not only supplied the the needs of its native population, but a large proportion of it was sold to the Jewish sector.

The Jewish agricultural development during the mandatory period followed different lines. Concerning the utilisation of land, the accent was put on the development of citrus groves, most of them belonging to Jewish ashkenazi capitalists from Palestine and the Diaspora.In 1922, there were 20,000 dunums of Palestinian citrus plantations and 10,000 of Jewish ones. The area increase of Jewish and Palestinian plantations was similar during the Mandatory period. The area of citrus Jewish plantations reached 150,000 dunums at the end of the thirties. They were managed by companies, and their workers were local Palestinians. Whereas the Palestinian citrus groves belonged to local owners, more than half of the Jewish citrus plantations belonged to foreign Jewish capitalists. When the Palestinian revolt surged in 1936, and the Palestinian workers stopped working, the Jewish Agency, helped by the British authorities, brought to Palestine 15,000 Jews from Yemen to replace them. In 1945, the area of the citrus Palestinian plantations was 120,000 dunums and that of the Jewish ones 130,000 dunums.

During the British Mandate, the Palestinian animal production far surpassed in percentages their fields and orchards production. The following table enumerates the country's livestock in 1930/32,and in 1942/3, and the Palestinian and Jewish livestock numbers:

(in thousands)
1930/32 1942/43 1942/43
Total Total Palest Jews. Jewish %
Cattle 152 243 215 28 12%
Buffaloes 5 5 5 - -
Sheep over 1 y. 205 244 225 19 8%
Goats " " 316 325 315 10 3%
Camels " " 25 29 29 - -
Horses,mules 19 29 24 5 21%
Donkeys 77 108 106 2 2%
Hens 459 1,890 1220 670 35%
Other poultry 16 91 17 74 81%
Source: Statistical Handbook of Jewish Palestine 1947, The Jewish Agency, p.164.

Palestine had in 1943 243,000 heads of cattle, with only 28,000 belonging to Jewish farmers. Sheep and goats over one year numbered in 1942/3 244,000, with only 19,000 belonging to Jewish exploitations.The development of the fellahs animal branches during the Mandatory period far surpassed their population increase.

The Zionists could invest each year more and more money for the built up of the agricultural Jewish infrastructure, because the Jewish capital which reached Palestine during the thirty years of the Mandate, was enormous. The 600,000 Jews living in Palestine in 1945, received during the 30 years of the Mandatory period £ 152 million, equivalent to about 700 million dollars.(Ulitzur A. - National Capital and Upbuilding of Palestine. 1939 and 1945. (in Hebrew)). As for the Palestinian fellahs, the only way to develop their agricultural infrastructure was through the hard work of each member of the fellahs family.

In order to have an idea on the enormity of this Jewish financing, it should be reminded that after 1929, Stalin, in order to implement the first quinquinal plan for the industrialization of the Soviet Union, having then a population of 145 millions, extorted 1,500 million rubles from its moujiks, equivalent to 1,500 million dollars. The £ 152 million at the disposal of the Zionists during the Mandatory period for less than half a million Jews represent almost half the sum at the disposal of the Soviet Union for 145 million of its citizens during the implementation of the 1929 first Soviet Union quinquinal plan.

Even so, when the British left and the State of Israel was created in 1948, it possessed neither an agriculture able to feed its population, nor an industry able, through its exports, to ensure Israel's economical existence.
In 1946, the Palestinians formed two thirds of the country's population and the Jews one third. An English book written by Ludwig Samuel, entitled "Jewish agricultural production in Palestine", and published in 1946 by the Jewish Agency, gives details of the agicultural production of each of the two sectors in 1943/44:

(in thousands of tons)
Jewish Palestinian
cereals 34 215
leguminous crops - 9
vegetables 39 95
fruits (citrus,wine grapes excl) 11 65
olives - 50
milk 61 69
meat 2 11
poultry 2 4
eggs (millions) 72 72
It must be remembered that the best Palestinian land and almost unlimited quantities of irrigation water were in the hands of the Jewish setlers. The Palestinians, who formed two thirds of the country's population, produced 86 % of its cereals, 100 % of its leguminous crops, 71 % of its vegetables 86 % of all fruits and 100 % of the olive crop. Concerning the citrus fruit plantations, whose crops could not then be exported, their area was more or less similar in the Jewish and Palestinian sectors.

As for animal production, the Palestinian sector produced 85 % of all meat except poultry, and 67 % of poultry meat. The only sectors in which the Jewish production exceeded their population proportion were in milk, with 53 % of the total production, and eggs, with 50 % of the production. But it is worth noting that most of the animal production in the Jewish sector - meat,milk and eggs - has very little to do with the tilling of the soil. It did not need land.

After the creation of Israel, thanks to the billions of dollars given to Israel by the United States for its role in the defense of the American interests in the oil-bearing Middle East, this agro-industry developed substancially. Israel buys all the animal foodstuff concentrates needed for its huge animal stocks on the international markets, and transforms them into meat, milk and eggs consumed by its 5.5 million citizens.

During the thirties, high civil servants of the Jewish Agency Colonization department, were very proud to show to reporters moshavim created for German intellectuals driven out by the nazis. In these moshavim, professors, scientists, physicians and other high ranking intellectuals were breeding laying hens and chickens, fed with imported grain. It never entered he minds ot these civil servants the human mess such a Jewish "cultural revolution" was creating.

As for Palestinian animal production, it was based on pasture and local field crops. Palestinian production not only supplied the needs of its native population, but a large part of it was sold to the Jewish sector. According to the economist Alfred Bonne, the Yishouv bought agricultural products valued 1,050,000 British pounds from the Palestinians fellahs in 1935, a year before the Palestinian revolt, as follows:

Agricultural products Value in british £
Cereals 50,000
Vegetable oil and oilseeds 140,000
Potatoes and vegetables 290,000
Animals for slaughtering 150,000
Chicken 50,000
Fish 25,000
Milk and milk products 25,000
Eggs 30,000
Organic manure 90,000
Total 1,050,000
Source: Bonne Alfred - Palastina, Land und Wirtschaft,
Berlin, 1935, p.264

According to L. Greenbaum, the gross total value of the Palestinians annual agricultural production could be estimated in the middle of the thirties at between 5 to 6 million £ pounds. The selling of Palestinian agricultural production to the Jewish sector reached therefore between 15 to 20 % of its total value.

It must be remembered that whereas a large part of the feeding of the Jewish Yishouv population in Palestine, which in 1935 numbered 350,000, was on the shoulders of the Palestinian fellahs, there was no selling of Jewish agricultural products, which were much more expensive, on the Palestinian markets.

Concerning the development of fruit plantations in the Jewish and Palestinian sectors during the Mandatory period, Mandatory and Jewish Agency statistics give the following numbers concerning the Palestine fruit plantations in 1945:

(in thousands of dunums)
1922 1945
Jewish Palest. Jewish Palest.
Olive plantations - 120 7 599
Vineyards 16 34 21 159
Fig trees - 30 - 123
Other plantations 40 15 15 90
Total without citrus 56 199 43 971
Citrus groves 10 19 130 120
Source: Mandatory statistics
As can be ascertained, the Palestinians increased their fruit plantations other than citrus by five times, bringing them to a total area of about one million dunums. As for the Jewish sector, it reduced them. These Jewish plantations represented in 1945 about one twentieth of the Palestinian plantation area.

Another main source of revenue of the Palestinian fellahs agriculture was due to the tremendous development of their citrus orchards. Their area increased from 20,000 dunums in 1922, to 50,000 dunums in 1930 and 140,000 dunums in 1939, just before the Second World War. In 1929/30, 2 million citrus fruit cases were exported. In 1938/9, the Palestinian citrus fruit cases exports reached 5 million. In 1935, in addition to more than a £ 1 million of agricultural products sold by the fellahs to the Jewish sector, their revenue from their citrus exports reached £1.7 million. The Palestinians obtained also other relatively small export revenues for the selling abroad of cereals, olive oil, water melons, sesame, almonds, tobacco leaves and other agricultural crops. Its only in the citrus plantations that the Jewish sector succeded in overtaking the Palestinian citrus exports. This was done thanks to the invested Jewish capital from abroad.

During the Mandate, the tremendous propagand all over the World of the Jewish agricultural "development" in the Holy Land was the sreen behind which the Ashkenazi Zionists worked in order to uproot the native Palestinians from the lands they cultivated generation after generation from times immemorial. They did not need Palestine's land in order to feed Palestine's Jewish population, but in order to cleanse ethnically the native Palestinians from their coveted land, repeating on a smaller scale with what the Americans did to the Indians, the French to the Algerians and the British to the aborigenes of Australia. Nowadays, the Zionists leaders have abandoned their aim to transform the Diaspora Jews into peasants rooted in the land of their ancesters. They have also abandoned their aim of transforming the Palestinians land into a food source supplying at least part of the food needs of Israel's population. It is now clear that its only the Palestinian fellahs who are able to transform their motherland, desertified gradually by the Zionists during almost half a century in order to transform it into the stongest Western powers military base in the oil-bearing Middle East, into a country in which milk and honey flow.