Suggestions to settle Jewish immigrants, or as they are known in Israel, Olim, in Palestinian villages depopulated in 1948 were made even as the war was still underway. A plan devised by a member of the JNF, Yosef Weitz, lays out detailed logistics for settling Olim in depopulated villages in the western Upper Galilee, in pursuit of a double objective: a solution for the housing shortage facing the tens of thousands of newly arrived Jewish immigrants, while at the same time obstructing the return of Palestinian residents to their lands and villages.
During the 1948 war and in the years that followed, several plans and suggestions were made with respect to Palestinian villages that were fully or partially depopulated due to the fighting. The plan posted here, signed by Yosef Weitz, who served as the director of the JNF Land and Forestation Department for about thirty years, was drafted in partnership with the Jewish Agency and submitted to members of the government in December 1948.
It refers to an area stretching from the Acre-Safed road in the south to the Lebanese border in the north and from the Mediterranean in the west to an unpaved road that connected Safed to Kadesh in the east. According to Weitz, the area contained 59 villages and several additional hamlets with a Palestinian population of about 51,000. After the fighting, 36 villages were depopulated, leaving structures and lands. “This emptiness,” Weitz said, “is a vulnerability in terms of the return of Arab refugees without consent or knowledge by way of ‘infiltration.’” Hence, settling Jewish residents into these areas would serve as a way to ‘protect’ them against the return of thl official forums also discussed the possibility of relocating Palestinian communities within Israel in order to clear areas for Jewish settlement. The central body working on this issue in the final months of 1948 and in early 1949 was the “Arab Transfer Committee,” which had the power to grant permits to establish new Jewish settlements in land of Palestinian villages.
Giora Yoseftal, Director of the Jewish Agency Absorption Department, forwarded the plan to eir Palestinians owners..
Several months before Weitz’s plan was sent to government offices, severaMinister Shalom Bechor Sheetrit at the Ministry of Minority Affairs. He asked to immediately begin settling Olim in the villages of Tarshiha, al-Basa (Betzet) and Deir al-Qasi (Alkosh). The request was granted.