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Administrative Problems in Palestine before 1948 (Nakba) with Regards to State Holdings: (a) Subsistence Areas, British Mandate: A Survey of Palestine: Volume I - Page 272. Chapter VIII: Land: Section 8
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Posted on October 28, 2007
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British Mandate: A Survey of Palestine
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Section 8.


(a) Subsistence areas.

112. No question regarding the economic development of Palestine has been the subject of greater debate than that in regard to the determination of subsistence areas. The obvious importance of this question not only in relation to the resolution of the problem of absorptive capacity where immigration is concerned but also to the ability of the population to support a reasonable standard of existence has necessitated its study by successive commissions but no conclusions accepted as basic by all parties concerned have been formulated. As will be evident, the extent of the area required varies according to region, climate and availability of water and to the method of farming and standard of living assumed. There has been almost as great a divergence of opinion in regard to the total area of cultivable land in Palestine. This question is discussed in relation to particular areas and the possibility of extending irrigation in section 2 of chapter X. The Royal Commission, having examined a variety of opinions on the matter, recorded the view that "no really satisfactory definition in advance can be found on which it would be safe to has e an estimate of the cultivable area. This must, we consider, and we hold this view also as regards the lot viable of the cultivator, be discovered by experience, by a system of 'trial and error' in the different parts of the country. But we consider that, until the contrary is proved by experience and practical experiment, the Administration will be wise in adhering to their own definition in so far as it relates to an increase of immigrants on the land". <Report, chapter IX, para. 53). The definition of "cultivable land" to which the Royal Commission referred is land which is already under cultivation, or which can be brought under cultivation by the application of the labour and resources of the average Palestinian cultivator.

113. Sir John Hope Simpson, who reported in 1930, quoted a number of opinions on the question of the lot viable*. These may be summarised as follows :-

(a) Shaw Commission : "From evidence given before us it

would appear that where the land is used for the purpose of
* Report on Immigration, Land Settlement and Development by Sir Joاn Hope Simpson, C.I.E., pages 60---73.

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