The Ottoman Land Regime th in the Late 19 Century

Imperial Edicts

The Ottoman Land Code

What led to the Ottoman Land Code?
• Increasing military and economic competition with the countries of Europe. • Geographical weakening of the central government. • Government reforms aimed at creating strong central governing structures to promote economic growth and military and political strength (Tanzimat) • Part of the evolution of a new type of centralized state structure in which the central government played a larger part in regulating daily lives and activities.
The OLC’s Overall Aim appears to be the improvement of Ottoman land administration and the establishment of a direct fiscal relationship between cultivators and the central government.

The Ottoman Land Laws of 1858-9
• Ottoman Land Code, 1858. • Tapou Law, 1858. • Tapou Regulations, 1859.

How did the laws of 1858-9 reflect continuity? How did they reflect change? What were their most significant impact? How was this impact manifested in Jewish-Arab landtenure relations from the late Ottoman period through the end of the Mandate?

Jewish-Owned Land in Palestine, 1945/6

The Ottoman System Of “Split Ownership”
raqaba – Nuda Proprietas, or bare title to property (the right of property without usufruct).

tasarruf – Usufruct, or the right to use and derive profit or benefit from property.

The 5 Types of Land Defined by the O.L.C.
1) 2) 3) 4) 5) mulk miri mewat (mevat) matruka (matruke) waqf (vakif)

Musha` - Not a legal category, but rather a land holding system communal holdings and periodic redistribution.

• Raqaba and tasarruf belong to the landholder (full ownership, freehold). • Sources: a) Land in the built-up area of a village or town. b) Miri transformed into mulk by the Sultan through a court order, in exchange for payment. c) Land transferred to Muslims by the conquerors (`ushriya). d) Land transferred to local inhabitants by the conquerors (kharijiya).

• Raqaba to the treasury and tasarruf to the cultivator. • Vast majority of agricultural land in Palestine and in the Empire. • Strong, long-term rights of usufruct to the holder and cultivator. • Under Art. 78 of the O.L.C., whoever cultivates miri for ten-years is entitled to a title deed. • Under Art. 68 of the O.L.C., miri which is left fallow for three years (without valid reason) is subject to reallocation according to the rights of “tapou” (Art. 59 of the O.L.C., and Art. 16 of the Tapou Law). If it is not reallocated in this manner, it becomes mahlul and is auctioned off by the treasury.

• Property that has been “dedicated” for religious, cultural, or charitable reasons. • Waqf sahiha (true waqf) – Dedicated mulk property. Raqaba and tasarruf to the waqf, and the propetry is subject to Islamic law (shari`a). • Waqf ghayr-sahiha (sultanic waqf, or “untrue waqf”) – Dedicated miri property. Raqaba to the treasury and tasarruf and income to the waqf, and the property is subject to the O.L.C. as miri. • Every religious group has its own waqf which is independently administered by its leaders.

• Raqaba to the treasury. • Land left for public use: a) Land officially allocated to a village or town – grazing land, granary, forest land, etc. b) Land in the use of the undefined, general public – roads, markets, etc. • No exclusive possession or use by individuals. • There is no clause in the O.L.C. empowering the treasury to assume possession of matruka.

• Unoccupied, vacant, typically rugged and uncultivated land that has not been left for public use and that is located far from the nearest town or village (distance of a loud voice, 1.5 miles, or half-anhour). • Raqaba to the treasury. • Under Art. 103 of the O.L.C., whoever “revives” mewat is entitled to tasarruf and a title deed. After revival, the land becomes miri.

• Not a legal category of land, but rather a communal land holding system based on periodic reallocation. • Groups: village, hamula in one village or spread over a number of villages, small families, etc.

Imperial Edicts

(ind. 1832)


The Ottoman Position on Jewish Settlement in Eretz Israel/Palestine
• The Ottomans were aware of the Jewish situation in E. European and the onset of Zionist activities in 1881. • The government’s position stemmed from the two major problems then facing the Empire at the time: 1) The rise of nationalist movements within the Empire and the subsequent loss of territory. 2) The Empire’s relations with the European states: - The desire to prevent foreigners (particularly Europeans) from settling in the Empire. Hovavei Tziyon was regarded as a Russian movement, and this increased Ottoman opposition to Jewish immigration to Palestine.

Herzl and the Sultan (1896-1902) What did Herzl want from Sultan Abdulhamid, and what did Abdulhamid want from Herzl?

The Dynamic of Ottoman Efforts to Prevent Jewish Immigration to Palestine
1. Prohibitions issued. 2. Jews petitioned European consuls. 3. European governments protest the infringement on the rights of their nationals and foreign protégés, guaranteed by the capitulations, and pressure the Ottomans to rescind. 4. The Ottomans soften the prohibition. 5. Jewish immigrants and organizations take advantage of loop-holes to circumvent the law.

Ottoman Measures against Jewish Settlement in Palestine
1881 – Jewish settlement prohibited. 1883 – Foreign Jews prohibited from buying land in Palestine. 1884 – Jewish merchants and businessmen prohibited from entering country. Pilgrims may enter for 30 days after paying deposit. 1888 – Jews permitted to settle in Palestine individually. 1891 – Russian Jews, and subsequently all foreign Jews, prohibited from entering country. 1892 – Sale of miri land to all Jews prohibited (ban on local Jews eventually lifted). 1898 – Return to the policy of 1884, with extension to 3 months. 1900 – Instead of deposit, Jewish pilgrims surrendered their papers for 3-month visa. 1901 – Retroactive recognition of Jewish immigrants in Palestine, but prohibited from assisting new immigrants.

Land, Law and the Conflict towards the end of Ottoman Rule
• • • Clear government position against the purchase of land by Jews. Laws against Jewish land purchases. Minor (but increasing) resistance against Jewish land purchases among the Palestinian felahin (peasant farmers). Despite all this, Jewish and Zionist individuals and organizations succeeded in acquiring land and establishing settlements.

The Jewish Population in Palestine: 1882-1908

1882 – 24,000 1890 – 47,000 1897 – 50,000 1908 – 80,000

Reading for Sunday
Required Alan Dowty: “‘A Question that Outweighs All Others’ Yitzhak Epstein and Zionist Recognition of the Arab Issue” Recommended Rashid Khalidi: “Palestinian Peasant Resistance to Zionism before World War I”