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The Public Lands of Palestine before 1948 (Nakba), British Mandate: A Survey of Palestine: Volume I - Page 255. Chapter VIII: Land: Section 5
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Posted on October 28, 2007
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Posted by Webmaster on May 31, 2013 #150400

CHAPTER VIII.

Section 5.

THE Public LANDS OF PALESTINE.

73. The public lands of Palestine are, according to the Palestine Orders-in-Council 1922-1940 *, all those lands which are subject to the control of the Government of Palestine by virtue of treaty, convention, agreement and succession, and all lands which are acquired for the public service or otherwise. Article 12 of the 1922 Order-in-Council requires that "All rights in or in relation to any public lands shall vest in and may be exercised by the High Commissioner for the time being in trust for the Government of Palestine:". Article 13 enables the High Commissioner to make grants or leases of any public lands, or to permit such lands to be temporarily occupied on such terms or conditions as he may think fit, provided that the grant or disposition is in conformity with the existing law. The existing law in regard to land consists of the Ottoman Land Code and its subsidiary legislation, as amended by Ordinances promulgated by the High Commissioner.

74. The public lands of Palestine include lands varying greatly not only in physical characteristics, but also in the extent and nature of the ownership and control of Government in them. There are large areas in which the precise interest of the State has not yet been ascertained.

75. The tenures inherited from Ottoman legislation have been described in section 1 of this chapter. Property owned completely is called mulk, Muslim emperors and Turkish sultans of the past had made grants of land as mulk; and by the Ottoman Land Code, sites of houses in towns can be mulk; but generally speaking land privately owned is held on what Ottoman law called the miri tenure, which resembles a lease of indefinite duration, in which the rental, so to speak, is represented by the obligation to pay land taxes and land registry fees. When the miri interest is alienated, the ultimate ownership called raqaba is retained by the State. Most of the land owned by the State is registered as in the miri category but as the Government owns the raqaba as well, it might as well be called mulk: except that perhaps this might cause complications when Government desired to alienate it by way of grant, sale or lease. The "owners" who bold land by miri tenure can only exercise such rights as can be shown to have been accorded to them by the State, and these rights are laid down in the Ottoman law. .The right of succession to these rights is prescribed by law. Failure of successors brings the grant to an end and the land becomes mahlul and returns to the State. Theoretically, failure to cultivate also causes the
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* Vide chapter IV,

Page 255