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Creating Facts on the Ground: Agriculture in Israel and Palestine (1882 - 2000)

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The paper analyses the evolution of the Palestinian agricultural sector and the Israeli agricultural sector, before and after the establishment of the Israeli state. The two agricultural sectors are both unsustainable. Israel works along the imperative of extensification with intensification, increasing areas under cultivation and pursuing agriculture in peripheral areas regardless the economic and environmental costs and impact. Palestine answers reshaping agriculture through direct and indirect Israeli control of labour, land and access to water. The paper recounts the history of land ownership and land use throughout the Ottoman Empire, the British Mandate and the emergence of the Zionist project. It also shows how the Zionist project evolved along two opposing lines, one inspired by European capitalism and the other by socialism. Both the lines of development, for different reasons, created an agricultural system segregated along racial lines, with the indigenous population either excluded or used as cheap unskilled labour. With the loss of 78% of what once was Palestine in 1948, arab land ownership fall from 570,000 to 76,800 dunums, where the land expropriated was the most fertile and productive. Contextually, the legal system was used to furtherly expropriate land. Then the paper outlines the different techniques and policies used by Israel to expropriate the land, limit the access to it to Palestinians, while extracting from the land owned by Israel the maximum possible and also accounts for the transformations within the Palestinian agricultural sector resulting from the Israli expropriation, with a growing use of agriculture for personal private consumption.  

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HIstoria Agraria