British Mandate of Palestine

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Mandate for Palestine
Mandate of the United Kingdom

1920 – 1948

Flag of Palestine


Location of Palestine
The approximate borders of the British Mandate circa 1922. In September 1922 Britain organized the territory east of the Jordan river, "Transjordan," as an autonomous state.
Capital Jerusalem
Political structure League of Nations Mandate
High Commissioner
 - 1920 — 1925 Sir Herbert Louis Samuel
 - 1945 — 1948 Sir Alan G. Cunningham
Historical era Interwar Period
 - Mandate assigned 25 April, 1920
 - Britain officially assumes control 29 September 1923
 - Transjordanian independence 25 May 1946
 - Founding of Israel 14 May, 1948

The British Mandate for Palestine, sometimes referred to as the Mandate of Palestine, was a League of Nations Mandate created after the First World War when the Ottoman Empire was split by the Treaty of Sèvres. The British Mandate of Palestine comprised territory that now comprises modern-day Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The borders of the Mandate for Palestine extended from the Mediterranean Sea to the west, the French Mandate of Lebanon, French Mandate of Syria, and the British Mandate of Mesopotamia to the north, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the east and south, and the Kingdom of Egypt to the south-west.

The British Mandate operated from 1923 until the independence of Transjordan (later renamed Jordan) in 1946 and of Israel in 1948. The objective of the League of Nations Mandate system was to administer parts of the then defunct Ottoman Empire, which had been in control of the Middle East since the 16th century, "until such time as they are able to stand alone." [1]



[edit] Early History

[edit] Ancient to modern history

Palestine map created by the British War Office in 1924 the original map in the National Library Of Scotland in Edinburgh
Palestine map created by the British War Office in 1924 the original map in the National Library Of Scotland in Edinburgh

This territory was inhabited by the Canaanites, then the Israelites, and then it became part of the Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman Empires with periods of independence or autonomy for the Jews. When the Roman Empire split, the region was ruled by the Eastern Roman Empire, also called the Byzantine Empire. After that it was ruled by the Sassanians, Omayyads, Crusaders and Mamelukes, and then by the Ottoman Empire from 1517 to 1922.

The Ottomans gained control of the Middle East under Selim I (1465–1520), and incorporated the region into an administrative unit, the eyalet of Syria. The name "Palestine" disappeared as the official name of an administrative unit, and much of the region became part of the vilayet (province) of Damascus-Syria until 1660, then the vilayet of Saida (Sidon), briefly interrupted by the 7 March 1799–July 1799 French occupation of Jaffa, Haifa, and Caesarea. On 10 May 1832 it was one of the Turkish provinces annexed by Muhammad Ali's briefly imperialistic Egypt (nominally still Ottoman), but in November 1840 direct Ottoman rule was restored.

[edit] World War I

General Allenby's final attacks of the Palestine Campaign gave Britain control of the area by driving out the Ottomans.
General Allenby's final attacks of the Palestine Campaign gave Britain control of the area by driving out the Ottomans.

During World War I, the British waged the Sinai and Palestine Campaign under General Allenby. At the same time, the intelligence officer T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") was stirring up the Arab Revolt in the region. The British defeated Ottoman Turkish forces in 1917 and occupied Palestine and Syria. The land was under British military administration for the remainder of the war.

The British military administration ended starvation with the aid of food supplies from Egypt, successfully fought typhus and cholera epidemics and significantly improved the water supply to Jerusalem. They reduced corruption by paying the Arab and Jewish judges higher salaries. Communications were improved by new railway and telegraph lines.

In the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916, Britain and France had proposed to divide the Middle East between them into spheres of influence, with "Palestine" as an international enclave.[2]

After the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916, the British had made two promises regarding the territory in the Middle East it was expecting to acquire. Britain had promised the local Arabs, through Lawrence, independence for a united Arab country covering most of the Arab Middle East, in exchange for their support of the British; and in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 had promised to create and foster a Jewish national home in Palestine. The British had, in the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence, previously promised the Hashemite family lordship over most land in the region in return for their support. At the same time, British interest in Zionism dates to the rise in importance of the British Empire’s South Asian enterprises in the early 19th century, concurrent with "the Great Game" and planning for the Suez Canal. Eminent British figures such as Queen Victoria, her son King Edward VII, Prime Minister Lloyd George, 19th century Prime Minister Lord Palmerston and Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour were among the enthusiastic proponents of Zionism.

In October 1919, British forces in Syria and the last British soldiers stationed east of the Jordan were withdrawn and the region came under exclusive control of Faisal bin Hussein from Damascus.[3]

On November 23, 1918, a military edict was issued dividing Ottoman territories into occupied enemy territories (OET). The Middle East would be divided into three OETs, and OET-South extended from the Egyptian border of Sinai into Palestine and Lebanon as far north as Acre and Nablus and as far east as the River Jordan. A temporary British military governor (General Moony) would administer this sector.[4][5][6] At that time General Allenby assured Amir Faisal "that the Allies were in honour bound to endeavour to reach a settlement in accordance with the wishes of the peoples concerned and urged him to place his trust whole-heartedly in their good faith."[7]

[edit] Interwar period

[edit] Borders, legal status, and administration to 1923

Zones of French and British influence and control proposed in the Sykes-Picot Agreement
Zones of French and British influence and control proposed in the Sykes-Picot Agreement

In a meeting at Deauville in 1919, David Lloyd George and Georges Clemenceau revised the Sykes-Picot agreement, with Palestine and the Vilayet of Mosul in modern-day Iraq falling into the British sphere in exchange for British support of French influence in Syria and Lebanon.[8] According to historian Ilan Pappe,

"The borders of mandatory Palestine, first drawn up in the Sykes-Picot Agreement, were given their definitive shape during lengthy and tedious negotiations by British and French officials between 1919 and 1922...In October 1919 the British envisaged the area that is today southern Lebanon and most of southern Syria as being part of British mandatory Palestine...In the East, matters were more complicated...[Transjordan] was part of the Ottoman province of Damascus which in the Sykes-Picot agreement had been allocated to the French."[9]

At the San Remo Conference (19–26 April 1920) the Allied Supreme Council granted the mandates for Palestine and Mesopotamia to Britain without precisely defining the boundaries of the mandated territories.[10][11] Although the land east of the Jordan had been part of the Syrian administrative unit under the Ottomans, it was excluded from the French Mandate at the San Remo conference, "on the grounds that it was part of Palestine."[12]

British victories during World War I and years of delay before formal treaties were ratified left the bulk of this territory under British military occupation from 1917 to 1920.

The San Remo conference was an international meeting of the post-World War I Allied Supreme Council, held in San Remo, Italy, in 19-26 April 1920. It determined the allocation of Class "A" League of Nations mandates for administration of the former Ottoman-ruled lands of the Middle East.

The decisions of the conference mainly confirmed those of the First Conference of London (February 1920), and broadly reaffirmed the terms of the Anglo-French Sykes-Picot Agreement of 16 May 1916 for the region's partition and the Balfour Declaration of 2 November 1917.[13] Britain received the mandate for Palestine and Iraq, while France gained control of Syria including present-day Lebanon.

After the San Remo Conference the British government placed Palestine under civil rule, in anticipation of the granting of a formal League of Nations Mandate. The Mandate was approved in July 1922 and came into effect in September 1923. In April 1921, before the Mandate came into effect in September 1923, Britain created an autonomous political division called the Emirate of Transjordan in a part of what would become the Mandate Territory of Palestine. Accordingly, the objectives set out in the British Mandate for Palestine did not apply to what became Transjordan.

The League explicitly tasked the British with recognizing "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country" and “secur[ing] the establishment of the Jewish national home” while simultaneously safeguarding "the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine.”[14]

The precise geographical boundaries of the Mandate, and whether or not it was wholly intended to become a "Jewish National Home" have historically been disputed, with conflicting and shifting British promises to Jewish and Arab interests made in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence, and the Churchill White Paper, 1922. Territory under British control east of the Jordan River was formed in September 1922 into a separate administration known as Transjordan. Transfer of authority to an Arab government in Transjordan took place gradually, starting with the recognition of a local administration in 1923 and transfer of most administrative functions in 1928. Britain retained mandatory authority over the region until it became fully independent as the Hashemite Kingdom of Trans-Jordan in 1946.

The territory west of the Jordan remained under British administration until 1948. Following World War II, the United Nations succeeded the League of Nations as overseer of Mandate territories, and took up the question of Jewish and Arab self-government in the Mandate. On September 30, 1947, Britain decided to terminate the British mandate of Palestine, later setting the withdrawal date of May 15, 1948.[15] Subsequently, a majority of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states, with Jerusalem to be placed under international administration, and on November 29, 1947 the UN General Assembly voted 33 to 13 in favor of the 1947 UN Partition Plan.

The partition plan was rejected out of hand by the leadership of the Palestinian Arabs, by the Arab League, and by most of the Arab population. Most of the Jews accepted the proposal, in particular the Jewish Agency, which was the Jewish state-in-formation. The British refused to implement any parts of the Plan deemed unacceptable by either side, and refused to co-administer the Mandate with the UN Commission. Jewish leaders declared the independent State of Israel the day prior to British withdrawal, on 14 May 1948, and the ensuing 1948 Arab-Israeli War ended with the former mandatory territory controlled by the State of Israel, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and the Kingdom of Egypt.

Regardless of the territorial boundaries, from an administrative standpoint, the 1947 UNSCOP report in the Official Records of the Second Session of the [United Nations] General Assembly noted: "Following its occupation by British troops in 1917–1918, Palestine had been controlled by the Occupied Enemy Territory Administration of the United Kingdom Government. Anticipating the establishment of the Mandate, the United Kingdom Government, as from 1 July 1920, replaced the military with a civilian administration, headed by a High Commissioner ultimately responsible to the Secretary of State for the Colonies in Great Britain."[16][17] David Lloyd George approved the appointment of Herbert Samuel as this High Commissioner. Samuel arrived in Palestine on June 20, 1920, and complied with a demand from the head of the military administration, General Sir Louis Bols, that he sign a receipt for ‘one Palestine, complete’: Samuel famously added the common commercial escape clause, ‘E&OE’ (errors and omissions excepted).[18]

[edit] French war in Syria and separation of Transjordan

At the Battle of Maysalun on 23 July 1920 the French removed the newly-proclaimed nationalist government of Hashim al-Atassi and expelled King Faisal from Syria. British Foreign Secretary Earl Curzon wrote to Samuel in August 1920, stating, "I suggest that you should let it be known forthwith that in the area south of the [Sykes-Picot] line, we will not admit French authority and that our policy for this area to be independent but in closest relations with Palestine."[19] Samuel replied to Curzon, "After the fall of Damascus a fortnight ago...Sheiks and tribes east of Jordan utterly dissatisfied with Shareefian Government most unlikely would accept revival"[20] and subsequently announced that Transjordan was under British Mandate.[21] Without authority from London Samuel then visited Transjordan and at a meeting with 600 leaders in Salt announced the independence of the area from Damascus and its absorption into the mandate, quadrupling the area under his control. Samuel assured his audience that Transjordan would not be merged with Palestine.[22] The foreign secretary, Lord Curzon, repudiated Samuel's action.[18] Subsequently, Faisal's brother Abdullah arrived in Ma'an in southern Transjordan with 2000 followers announcing his intention to retake Syria from the French.[23]

The Palestine Ensign, flown by ships registered in the Mandate territory, 1927–1948
The Palestine Ensign, flown by ships registered in the Mandate territory, 1927–1948

[edit] Ratification procedure

According to the Council of the League of Nations, meeting of August 1920 (p109–110): "draft mandates adopted by the Allied and Associated Powers would not be definitive until they had been considered and approved by the League ... the legal title held by the mandatory Power must be a double one: one conferred by the Principal Powers and the other conferred by the League of Nations,"[24] and three steps were required to establish a Mandate under international law: (1) The Principal Allied and Associated Powers confer a mandate on one of their number or on a third power; (2) the principal powers officially notify the council of the League of Nations that a certain power has been appointed mandatory for such a certain defined territory; and (3) the council of the League of Nations takes official cognisance of the appointment of the mandatory power and informs the latter that it [the council] considers it as invested with the mandate, and at the same time notifies it of the terms of the mandate, after assertaining whether they are in conformance with the provisions of the covenant."[24][25]

[edit] 1922 White Paper

In March 1921 Colonial secretary, Winston Churchill, visited Jerusalem and after discussion with Abdullah accepted Transjordan into the mandatory area with the proviso that it would be under the nominal rule of the emir Abdullah (initially for six months) and would not form part of the Jewish national home to be established west of the River Jordan[18], and on June 3, 1922 the Churchill White Paper, 1922 stated explicitly that "the terms of the [Balfour] Declaration referred to do not contemplate that Palestine as a whole should be converted into a Jewish National Home, but that such a Home should be founded `in Palestine.'"

A stamp from Palestine under the British Mandate
A stamp from Palestine under the British Mandate

[edit] League of Nations ratifies legal Mandate

In June 1922 the League of Nations approved the Palestine Mandate, to come into effect when a dispute between France and Italy over the Syria Mandate was settled. That occurred in September 1923. According to the League of Nations Official Journal', "the mandates for Palestine and Syria would now enter into force automatically and at the same time."[26] The Palestine Mandate was an explicit document regarding Britain's responsibilities and powers of administration in Palestine including recognizing "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country" and “secur[ing] the establishment of the Jewish national home” while safeguarding "the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine” and "political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country”.

The document defining Britain’s obligations as Mandate power copied the text of the Balfour Declaration concerning the establishment of a Jewish national home:

Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country[.][27]

Many articles of the document specified actions in support of Jewish immigration and political status. However, it was also stated that in the large, mostly arid, territory to the east of the Jordan River, then called Transjordan, Britain could ‘postpone or withhold’ application of the provisions dealing with the 'Jewish National Home'. In September 1922, the British government presented a memorandum to the League of Nations stating that Transjordan would be excluded from all the provisions dealing with Jewish settlement, and this memorandum was approved on 23 September. From that point onwards, Britain administered the part west of the Jordan as Palestine (which was 23% of the entire territory), and the part east of the Jordan as Transjordan (constituting 77% of the mandated territories). Technically they remained one mandate but most official documents referred to them as if they were two separate mandates. Transjordan remained under British control until 1946.

The boundary between the British and French mandates was defined in broad terms by the Franco-British Boundary Agreement of December 1920 [28]. That agreement placed the bulk of the Golan Heights in the French sphere. The treaty also established a joint commission to settle the precise border and mark it on the ground.[28] The commission submitted its final report on February 3, 1922, and it was approved with some caveats by the British and French governments on March 7, 1923, several months before Britain and France assumed their Mandatory responsibilities on 29 September 1923.[29][30] In accordance with the same process, a nearby parcel of land that included the ancient site of Dan was transferred from Syria to Palestine early in 1924. The Golan Heights thus became part of the French Mandate of Syria. American President Woodrow Wilson protested British concessions in a cable to the British Cabinet.[31] When the French Mandate of Syria ended in 1944, The Golan Heights became part of the newly independent state of Syria.

In October 1923, Britain provided the League with two reports on the administration of Palestine and Iraq for the period 1920–1922. The Secretary General's statement accepting the reports says: "The mandate for Palestine only came into force on September 29, 1923. The two reports cover periods previous to the application of the mandates."[32]

[edit] Immigration

According to official records, 367,845 Jews and 33,304 non-Jews immigrated legally between 1920 and 1945.[33] It was estimated that another 50–60,000 Jews and a small number of non-Jews immigrated illegally during this period.[34] Immigration accounts for most of the increase of Jewish population, while the non-Jewish population increase was largely natural. These figures have been supported by later studies[35], though estimates of Arab immigration have been disputed.[36]

Initially, Jewish immigration to Palestine met little opposition from the Palestinian Arabs. However, as anti-Semitism grew in Europe during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Jewish immigration (mostly from Europe) to Palestine began to increase markedly, creating much Arab resentment.

The British government placed limitations on Jewish immigration to Palestine. These quotas were controversial, particularly in the latter years of British rule, and both Arabs and Jews disliked the policy, each side for its own reasons. In response to numerous Arab attacks on Jewish communities, the Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary organization, was formed on June 15, 1920 to defend Jewish residents. Tensions led to widespread violent disturbances on several occasions, notably in 1921, 1929 (primarily violent attacks by Arabs on Jews — see Hebron) and 1936–1939. Beginning in 1936, several Jewish groups such as Etzel (Irgun) and Lehi (Stern Gang) conducted their own campaigns of violence against British military and Arab targets. This prompted the British government to label them both as terrorist organizations.

[edit] Infrastructure and development

From the 1920s to the start of the Second World War, the Mandate territory underwent enormous economic and cultural development. The institutions founded in this period included an elected assembly, the Asefat Hanivharim, the National Council for welfare, education, and religious service Vaad Leumi in 1920, a centralized Hebrew school system in 1919, the Histadrut labor federation in 1920, the Technion university in 1924, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1925.[37]

[edit] Great Uprising

In 1937, the Peel Commission proposed a partition between Jewish and Arab areas. The proposal was rejected by the Arabs and by the Zionist Congress (by 300 votes to 158) but accepted by the latter as a basis for negotiations between the Executive and the British Government.[38][39]

During the Peel Commission, An Arab land owner Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi said "There is no such country as "Palestine"; "Palestine" is a term the Zionists invented". (cited in Christopher Barder "Oslo`s Gift of peace: The destruction of Israel" ACPR Publishers p95, 2001)The first part of the statement is normally attributed to former Israeli PM Golda Meir, who did say a similar thing over thirty years later(see Wiki quotes).

In 1936–1939 the mandate experienced an upsurge in militant Arab nationalism that became also known as "the Great Uprising." The revolt was triggered by increased Jewish immigration, primarily Jews that escaped the Nazi regime in Germany as well as rising anti-Semitism throughout Europe. The revolt was led or co-opted by the Grand Mufti, Haj Amin Al-Husseini and his Husseini family. The Arabs felt they were being marginalized in their own country, but in addition to non-violent strikes, they resorted to violence, committing numerous attacks on Jewish civilians including rioting and massacres in 1921, 1929, and in the late 1930s. The Jewish organization Irgun used violence, with marketplace bombings and other massacres that also killed hundreds. Eventually, the uprising was put down by the British using severe measures. Haj Amin El Husseini fled first to Lebanon, then to Iraq, and finally to Germany in late 1941.

The British placed restrictions on Jewish land purchases in the remaining land, directly contradicting the provisions of the Mandate. A similar proposal to limit immigration in 1931 had been termed a violation of the mandate by the League of Nations. According to the Israeli side, the British had by 1949 allotted over 8500 acres (34 km²) to Arabs, and about 4100 acres (16 km²) to Jews.

[edit] World War II and post-war end of Mandate

[edit] Allied and Axis activity

As in most of the Arab world, there was no unanimity amongst the Palestinian Arabs as to their position regarding the combatants in World War II. Many signed up for the British army, but others saw an Axis victory as a likely outcome and a way of securing Palestine back from the Zionists and the British. Al-Husseini spent the rest of the war serving with the Waffen SS in Bosnia.

Even though Arabs were not highly regarded by Nazi racial theory, the Nazis encouraged Arab support as much as possible as a counter to British hegemony throughout the Arab world.[40]

Arabs who opposed the persecution of the Jews at the hand of the Nazis included Habib Bourguiba in Tunisia and Egyptian intellectuals such as Tawfiq al-Hakim and Abbas Mahmoud al-Arkad. (Source: Yad Vashem). The mandate recruited soldiers in Palestine. About 6,000 Palestinian Arabs joined the British forces and about 26,000 Jews.

On 10 June 1940, during early stages of World War II, Italy declared war on the British Commonwealth and sided with Germany. Within a month, the Italians attacked Palestine from the air.

In 1942, there was a period of anxiety for the Yishuv, when the forces of German General Erwin Rommel advanced east in North Africa towards the Suez Canal and there was fear that they would conquer Palestine. This period was referred to as the two hundred days of anxiety. This event was the direct cause for the founding, with British support, of the Palmach[41] — a highly-trained regular unit belonging to Haganah (which was mostly made up of reserve troops).

[edit] The Holocaust and Jewish immigration

The Holocaust had a major effect on the situation in Palestine. During the war, the British forbade entry into Palestine of European Jews escaping Nazi persecution, placing them in detention camps or deporting them to places such as Mauritius.[42] Avraham Stern, the leader of the Jewish Lehi underground group, and other Zionists, tried to convince the Nazis to continue seeing emigration from Europe as the "solution" for their "Jewish problem", but the Nazis abandoned this idea in favor of containment and physical extermination.

Starting in 1939, the Zionists organized an illegal immigration effort, known as Aliya Beth, conducted by "Hamossad Le'aliyah Bet", that rescued tens of thousands of European Jews from the Nazis by shipping them to Palestine in rickety boats. Many of these boats were intercepted. The last immigrant boat to try to enter Palestine during the war was the Struma, torpedoed in the Black Sea by a Soviet submarine in February 1942. The boat sank with the loss of nearly 800 lives. Illegal immigration resumed after WW II.

Eliyahu Hakim and Eliyahu Bet Zuri, members of the Jewish Lehi underground, assassinated Lord Moyne in Cairo on 6 November 1944. Moyne was the British Minister of State for the Middle East. The assassination is said by some to have turned British Prime Minister Winston Churchill against the Zionist cause, but for Lehi the priority was to allow Jewish refugees to enter the country and to establish the state on their own.

The British considered Arab support more important, because of their interests in Egypt and control of oil production in Iraq, Kuwait and the Emirates, and especially to guarantee the friendship of oil-rich Saudi Arabia.[citation needed]The ban on immigration continued.

As a result of the assassination of Lord Moyne, the Haganah kidnapped, interrogated, and turned over to the British many members of the Irgun (ironically Lehi members were not harmed as a result of an understanding with Haganah, even though Lehi committed the assassination). This period is known as the 'Hunting Season'. Irgun ordered its members not to resist or retaliate with violence, so as to prevent a spiraling to civil war.

Following the war, 250,000 Jewish refugees were stranded in displaced persons (DP) camps in Europe. Despite the pressure of world opinion, in particular the repeated requests of US President Harry S. Truman and the recommendations of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, the British refused to lift the ban on immigration and admit 100,000 displaced persons to Palestine. The Jewish underground forces then united and carried out several attacks against the British. In 1946, the Irgun blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, the headquarters of the British administration, killing 92 people.

Following the bombing the British Government began interning Jews in British camps on Cyprus. The negative publicity resulting from the situation in Palestine, meant the mandate was widely unpopular in Britain and caused US Congress to delay granting the British vital loans for reconstruction. The Labour party had promised before it's election to allow mass Jewish migration into Palestine. Additionally the situation required maintenance of large numbers of war-weary troops in the country (this was funded by taxing the Jewish community). In response to these pressures the British announced their desire to terminate the mandate and withdraw by May 1948.

[edit] United Nations Partition Plan

The UN Partition Plan.
The UN Partition Plan.

The British Peel Commission proposed a Palestine divided between a Jewish and an Arab State, but in time changed their position and sought to limit Jewish immigration from Europe to a minimum. This was seen by Zionists and their sympathisers as betrayal of the terms of the mandate, especially in light of the increasing persecution in Europe and was met with a popular uprising and guerilla war from Jewish militant groups, often viewed as one of several factors that led the British to hand the problem over to the United Nations.

The UN, the successor to the League of Nations, attempted to solve the dispute, creating the UNSCOP (UN Special Committee on Palestine) on May 15, 1947. After spending three months conducting hearings and general survey of the situation in Palestine, UNSCOP officially released its report on August 31. A majority of nations (Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, Netherlands, Peru, Sweden, Uruguay) recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states, with Jerusalem to be placed under international administration. A minority (India, Iran, Yugoslavia) supported the creation of a single federal state containing both Jewish and Arab constituent states. Australia abstained. On November 29, the UN General Assembly voted 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions, in favour of the Partition Plan, while making some adjustments to the boundaries between the two states proposed by it. The division was to take effect on the date of British withdrawal. Both the United States and Soviet Union agreed on the resolution. In addition, pressure was exerted on some small countries by Zionist sympathizers in the United States.[43]

The partition plan was rejected out of hand by the leadership of the Palestinian Arabs and by most of the Arab population. Most of the Jews accepted the proposal, in particular the Jewish Agency, which was the Jewish state-in-formation. Numerous records indicate the joy of Palestine's Jewish inhabitants as they attended the U.N. session voting for the division proposal. Up to this day, Israeli history books mention 29 November, the date of this session, as the most important date leading to the creation of the Israeli state.

Meeting in Cairo in November and December of 1947, the Arab League then adopted a series of resolutions aimed at a military solution to the conflict. The United Kingdom refused to implement the plan arguing it was not acceptable to both sides. It also refused to share with the UN Palestine Commission the administration of Palestine during the transitional period, and decided to terminate the Mandate on May 15th, 1948.[43][43]

Several Jewish organizations also declined the proposal. Menachem Begin, Irgun's leader, announced: "The partition of the homeland is illegal. It will never be recognized. The signature by institutions and individuals of the partition agreement is invalid. It will not bind the Jewish people. Jerusalem was and will for ever be our capital. The Land of Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And for ever". His views were publicly rejected by the majority of the nascent Jewish state.

[edit] Expiration of the Mandate and 1948 War

Main article: 1948 Arab-Israeli War
David Ben Gurion pronouncing the Declaration of the State of Israel, May 14, 1948. Tel Aviv, Israel, beneath a large portrait of Theodore Herzl, founder of modern political Zionism.
David Ben Gurion pronouncing the Declaration of the State of Israel, May 14, 1948. Tel Aviv, Israel, beneath a large portrait of Theodore Herzl, founder of modern political Zionism.

The British mandate over Palestine was due to expire on 15 May 1948, but Jewish Leadership led by future Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, declared independence on 14 May. The State of Israel declared itself as an independent nation, and was quickly recognized by the Soviet Union, the United States, and many other countries. Over the next few days, approximately 1,000 Lebanese, 5,000 Syrian, 5,000 Iraqi, 10,000 Egyptian troops invaded the newly-established state. Four thousand Transjordanian troops, commanded by 38 British officers who had resigned their commissions in the British army only weeks earlier (commanded by General Glubb), invaded the Corpus separatum region encompassing Jerusalem and its environs, as well as areas designated as part of the Arab state by the UN partition plan. They were aided by corps of volunteers from Saudi Arabia, Libya and Yemen.

The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, May 14, 1948 stated:

We appeal ... to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.

In an official cablegram from the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States to the UN Secretary-General on 15 May 1948, the Arab states publicly proclaimed their aim of creating a "United State of Palestine" in place of the Jewish and Arab, two-state, UN Plan. They claimed the latter was invalid, as it was opposed by Palestine's Arab majority, and maintained that the absence of legal authority made it necessary to intervene to protect Arab lives and property.[44] On the date of British withdrawal the Jewish provisional government declared the formation of the State of Israel, and the provisional government said that it would grant full civil rights to all within its borders, whether Arab, Jew, Bedouin or Druze.

[edit] Mandatory borders and 1949 Armistice

British Mandate: Proposed 1947 partition borders and 1949 armistice lines; main differences are in light red and magenta.
British Mandate: Proposed 1947 partition borders and 1949 armistice lines; main differences are in light red and magenta.

Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the State of Israel retained nearly all the territory that would have been assigned to it in the 1947 UN Partition Plan, as well as half of the land intended to become the Arab state of Palestine and a portion of the territory intended for international administration around Jerusalem. The remaining half of the land that had been intended to become Palestine along the West Bank of the Jordan River was annexed by Jordan, as was most of the Jerusalem enclave; the Gaza Strip along the Mediterranean coast, also included in the Arab state territory, was captured by Egypt.

[edit] Population

[edit] Demographics, 1920

In 1920 the majority of the approximately 750,000 people in this multi-ethnic region were Arabic-speaking Muslims, including a Bedouin population (estimated at 103,331 at the time of the 1922 census[45] and concentrated in the Beersheba area and the region south and east of it), as well as Jews (who comprised some 11% of the total) and smaller groups of Druze, Syrians, Sudanese, Circassians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Hejazi Arabs.

In 1922 the British undertook the first census of the mandate. The population was 752,048, comprising 589,177 Muslims, 83,790 Jews, 71,464 Christians and 7,617 persons belonging to other groups. After a second census in 1931, the population had grown to 1,036,339 in total, comprising 761,922 Muslims, 175,138 Jews, 89,134 Christians and 10,145 people belonging to other groups. There were no further censuses but statistics were maintained by counting births, deaths and migration. Some components such as illegal immigration could only be estimated approximately. The White Paper of 1939, which placed immigration restrictions on Jews, stated that the Jewish population "has risen to some 450,000" and was "approaching a third of the entire population of the country". In 1945 a demographic study showed that the population had grown to 1,764,520, comprising 1,061,270 Muslims, 553,600 Jews, 135,550 Christians and 14,100 people of other groups.

Year  ↓ Total  ↓ Muslim  ↓ Jewish  ↓ Christian  ↓ Other  ↓
1922 752,048 589,177(78%) 83,790(11%) 71,464(10%) 7,617(1%)
1931 1,036,339 761,922(74%) 175,138(17%) 89,134(9%) 10,145(1%)
1945 1,764,520 1,061,270(60%) 553,600(31%) 135,550(8%) 14,100(1%)

[edit] By district

The following table gives the demographics of each of the 16 districts of the Mandate.

Demographics of Palestine by district as of 1945
District Muslim Percentage Jewish Percentage Christian Percentage Total
Acre 51,130 69% 3,030 4% 11,800 16% 73,600
Beersheba 6,270 90% 510 7% 210 3% 7,000
Beisan 16,660 67% 7,590 30% 680 3% 24,950
Gaza 145,700 97% 3,540 2% 1,300 1% 150,540
Haifa 95,970 38% 119,020 47% 33,710 13% 253,450
Hebron 92,640 99% 300 <1% 170 <1% 93,120
Jaffa 95,980 24% 295,160 72% 17,790 4% 409,290
Jenin 60,000 98% Negligible <1% 1,210 2% 61,210
Jerusalem 104,460 42% 102,520 40% 46,130 18% 253,270
Nablus 92,810 98% Negligible <1% 1,560 2% 94,600
Nazareth 30,160 60% 7,980 16% 11,770 24% 49,910
Ramallah 40,520 83% Negligible <1% 8,410 17% 48,930
Ramle 95,590 71% 31,590 24% 5,840 4% 134,030
Safad 47,310 83% 7,170 13% 1,630 3% 56,970
Tiberias 23,940 58% 13,640 33% 2,470 6% 41,470
Tulkarm 76,460 82% 16,180 17% 380 1% 93,220
Total 1,076,780 58% 608,230 33% 145,060 9% 1,845,560
Data from the Survey of Palestine[46]

[edit] Land ownership of the British Mandate of Palestine

As of 1931, the territory of the British Mandate of Palestine was 26,625,600 dunums, of which 8,252,900 dunums or 33% were cultivable.[47]Official statistics show that Jews privately and collectively owned 1,393,531 dunums of land in 1945.[48] Estimates of the total volume of land that Jews had acquired by May 15, 1948 are complicated by illegal and unregistered land transfers, as well as by the lack of data on land concessions from the Palestine administration after March 31, 1936.[49] According to Avneri, Jews held 1,850,000 dunums of land in 1947.[50] Stein gives the estimate of 2,000,000 dunums as of May 1948.[51]

[edit] Land Ownership by district

The following table shows the land ownership of Palestine by district:

Land ownership of Palestine by district as of 1945
District Arab owned Jewish owned Public and other
Acre 87% 3% 10%
Beersheba 15% <1% 85%
Beisan 44% 34% 22%
Gaza 75% 4% 21%
Haifa 42% 35% 23%
Hebron 96% <1% 4%
Jaffa 47% 39% 14%
Jenin 84% <1% 16%
Jerusalem 84% 2% 14%
Nablus 87% <1% 13%
Nazareth 52% 28% 20%
Ramallah 99% <1% 1%
Ramle 77% 14% 9%
Safad 68% 18% 14%
Tiberias 51% 38% 11%
Tulkarm 78% 17% 5%
Data from the Land Ownership of Palestine[52]

[edit] Land ownership by type

The land owned privately and collectively by Arabs and Jews can be classified as urban, rural built-on, cultivable (farmed), and uncultivable. The following chart shows the ownership by Arabs and Jews in each of the categories.

Land ownership of Palestine (in dunums) as of April 1st, 1943
Category of land Arab and other non-Jewish ownership Jewish ownership Total Land
Urban 76,662 70,111 146,773
Rural built-on 36,851 42,330 79,181
Cereal (taxable) 5,503,183 814,102 6,317,285
Cereal (not taxable) 900,294 51,049 951,343
Plantation 1,079,788 95,514 1,175,302
Citrus 145,572 141,188 286,760
Banana 2,300 1,430 3,730
Uncultivable 16,925,805 298,523 17,224,328
Total 24,670,455 1,514,247 26,184,702
Data is from Survey of Palestine.[53][verification needed]

[edit] Land Laws of Palestine

[edit] British Chief Administrators of Palestine

Name Term
Edmund Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby 1917–1918
Sir Arthur Wigram Money 1918–1919
Sir Louis Jean Bols 1919–1920

[edit] British High Commissioners for Palestine

Name Term
Sir Herbert Louis Samuel 1920–1925
Sir Gilbert Falkingham Clayton May–December 1925 (acting)
Herbert Onslow Plumer 1925–1928
Sir Harry Charles Luke (acting) 1928
Sir John Chancellor 1928–1931
Sir Mark Aitchison Young 1931–1932 (acting)
Sir Arthur Grenfell Wauchope 1932–1937
William Denis Battershill 1937–1938 (acting)
Sir Harold MacMichael 1938–1944
John Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort 1944–1945
Sir Alan G. Cunningham 1945–1948

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ "Mandate for Palestine," Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol. 11, p. 862, Keter Publishing House, Jerusalem, 1972
  2. ^ Pappe, Ilan. The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947–1951, I. B. Tauris; New Ed edition (August 15, 1994), p. 3.
  3. ^ Biger, 2005, p. 173.
  4. ^ Biger, 2005, p. 55, p. 164.
  5. ^ The others included Occupied Enemy Territories North (Lebanon) under the command of French Colonel De Piape and Occupied Enemy Territories East (Syria and Transjordan) under the command of Faisal's chief of staff General Ali Riza el-Riqqabi.
  6. ^ See also "The Armistice in the Middle East," in [1]
  7. ^ Report of a Committee Set up to Consider Certain Correspondence Between Sir Henry McMahon and the Sharif of Mecca in 1915 and 1916, UNISPAL, Annex H.
  8. ^ Pappe, p. 3–4. Pappe suggests the French concessions were made to guarantee British support for French aims at the post-war peace conference concerning Germany and Europe.
  9. ^ Pappe, pp. 4–5.
  10. ^ Biger, 2005, p. 173.
  11. ^ Chaim Weizmann, subsequently reported to his colleagues in London: "There are still important details outstanding, such as the actual terms of the mandate and the question of the boundaries in Palestine. There is the delimitation of the boundary between French Syria and Palestine, which will constitute the northern frontier and the eastern line of demarcation, adjoining Arab Syria. The latter is not likely to be fixed until the Emir Feisal attends the Peace Conference, probably in Paris." See: 'Zionist Aspirations: Dr Weizmann on the Future of Palestine', The Times, Saturday, 8 May, 1920; p. 15.
  12. ^ Aruri, Naseer Hasan. Jordan: A Study in Political Development 1923–1965. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1972. p. 17.
  13. ^ Under the Balfour Declaration the British government had undertaken to favour the reconstitution of a Jewish national home in Palestine without prejudice to the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
  14. ^ This is text of the Balfour Declaration (see [2]) that was incorporated into the Treaty of Sèvres and the League of Nations' grant of the Mandate to Britain.
  15. ^ Brown, Judith, and W.M. Roger Lewis, eds. The Oxford History of the British Empire, Vol IV. "The Twentieth Century," p. 336. See:[3]
  16. ^ Official Records of the Second Session of the General Assembly, Supplement No. 11, United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, Report to the General Assembly, Volume 1. Lake Success, NY, 1947. A/364, 3 September 1947, Chapter II.C.68., at [4]
  17. ^ "in April 1920 the Allies decided that so far as the Arabic-speaking world was concerned they would implement the provisions of such a treaty [with Turkey] as they envisaged. Such action was of course, highly illegal...this irregular conduct was more public spirited than otherwise. It was the only sensible thing to do..." Christopher Sykes, Crossroads to Israel
  18. ^ a b c Bernard Wasserstein, ‘Samuel, Herbert Louis, first Viscount Samuel (1870–1963)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2006 accessed 21 April 2007.
  19. ^ Telegram from Earl Curzon to Sir Herbert Samuel, dated August 6, 1920, in Rohan Butler et al., Documents of British Foreign Policy, 1919–1939, first series volume XIII London:Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1963, p. 331, cited in Aruri, p. 17
  20. ^ Telegram August 7, 1920, in Rohan Butler et al., Documents of British Foreign Policy, 1919–1939, first series volume XIII London:Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1963, p. 334, in Aruri, p. 18.
  21. ^ Aruri p. 18.
  22. ^ Aruri, 1972, p.18.
  23. ^ Aruri, 1972, p.19.
  24. ^ a b Quincy Wright, Mandates under the League of Nations, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1930.
  25. ^ See also: Temperley, History of the Paris Peace Conference, Vol VI, p505–506; League of Nations, The Mandates System (official publication of 1945); Hill, Mandates, Dependencies and Trusteeship, p133ff.
  26. ^ League of Nations Council minutes Sep 29, 1923, Official Journal, Nov 23, p1355
  27. ^
  28. ^ a b Franco-British Convention on Certain Points Connected with the Mandates for Syria and the Lebanon, Palestine and Mesopotamia, signed Dec. 23, 1920. Text available in American Journal of International Law, Vol. 16, No. 3, 1922, 122–126.
  29. ^ Agreement between His Majesty's Government and the French Government respecting the Boundary Line between Syria and Palestine from the Mediterranean to El Hámmé, Treaty Series No. 13 (1923), Cmd. 1910. Also Louis, 1969, p. 90.
  30. ^ FSU Law.
  31. ^ "The Zionist cause depends on rational northern and eastern boundaries for a self-maintaining, economic development of the country. This means, on the north, Palestine must include the Litani River and the watersheds of the Hermon, and on the east it must include the plains of the Jaulon and the Hauran. Narrower than this is a mutilation… I need not remind you that neither in this country nor in Paris has there been any opposition to the Zionist program, and to its realization the boundaries I have named are indispensable". Abelson, Meir, Palestine: The Original Sin.
  32. ^ League of Nations, Official Journal, Oct 1923, p1217.
  33. ^ (1946) A Survey of Palestine: Prepared in December, 1945 and January, 1946 for the Information of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry. Palestine: Govt. printer, pp. 185. 
  34. ^ Ibid., pp. 210: "Arab illegal immigration is mainly ... casual, temporary and seasonal". pp. 212: "The conclusion is that Arab illegal immigration for the purpose of permanent settlement is insignificant".
  35. ^ J. McCarthy (1995). The population of Palestine: population history and statistics of the late Ottoman period and the Mandate. Princeton, N.J.: Darwin Press. 
  36. ^ Gottheil, Fred M. "The Smoking Gun: Arab Immigration into Palestine, 1922–1931.". Retrieved on 2007-05-15. Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2003, Volume X, Number 1, at [5]
  37. ^ See: The Jewish Community under the Mandate
  38. ^ 'Zionists Ready To Negotiate British Plan As Basis', The Times Thursday, August 12, 1937; pg. 10; Issue 47761; col B.
  39. ^ Eran, Oded. "Arab-Israel Peacemaking." The Continuum Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East. Ed. Avraham Sela. New York: Continuum, 2002, page 122.
  40. ^ Secret World War II documents released by the UK in July, 2001, include documents on an Operation Atlas (See References: KV 2/400–402. A joint German/Arab team, lead by Kurt Wieland, parachuted into Palestine in September 1944. This was one of the last German efforts in the region to attack the Jewish community in Palestine and undermine British rule by supplying local Arabs with cash, arms and sabotage equipment. The team was picked up shortly after landing.
  41. ^ How the Palmach was formed (History Central)
  42. ^ Karl Lenk, The Mauritius Affair, The Boat People of 1940/41, London 1991
  43. ^ a b c "Palestine". Encyclopedia Britannica Online School Edition, 2006. 15 May 2006.
  44. ^ 'The Origins and Evolution of the Palestine Problem: 1917–1988. Part II, 1947–1977.
  45. ^ "Hope Simpson report," October 1930, Chapter III, at [6]
  46. ^ (1991) A Survey of Palestine : Prepared in December, 1945 and January, 1946 for the Information of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry. Institute for Palestine Studies, 12–13. ISBN 0-88728-211-3. 
  47. ^ Stein, p. 4
  48. ^ "Land Ownership in Palestine," CZA, KKL5/1878. The statistics were prepared by the Palestine Lands Department for the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, 1945, ISA, Box 3874/file 1. See Khalaf (1991), pp. 26–27, Stein p. 226
  49. ^ Stein, pp. 246–247
  50. ^ Avneri p. 224
  51. ^ Stein, pp. 3–4, 247
  52. ^ Land Ownership of Palestine — Map prepared by the Government of Palestine on the instructions of the UN Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestine Question.
  53. ^ (1991) A Survey of Palestine : Prepared in December, 1945 and January, 1946 for the Information of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry. Institute for Palestine Studies. ISBN 0-88728-211-3. 

[edit] References

  • Bethell, Nicholas The Palestine Triangle : the Struggle Between the British, the Jews and the Arabs, 1935–48, London : Deutsch, 1979 ISBN 023397069X.
  • Eini, Roza El- (2006). Mandated Landscape: British Imperial Rule in Palestine 1929–1948. London: Routledge. ISBN 0714654264
  • Biger, Gideon (2005). The Boundaries of Modern Palestine, 1840–1947. London: Routledge. ISBN 0714656542
  • Louis, Wm. Roger (1969). The United Kingdom and the Beginning of the Mandates System, 1919–1922. International Organization, 23(1), pp. 73–96.
  • Asher Maoz (1994). "Application of Israeli law to the Golan Heights is annexation". Brooklyn journal of international law 20, afl. 2: 355–96. 
  • Tayseer Maar'i & Usama Halabi (1992). "Life under occupation in the Golan Heights". Journal of Palestine Studies 22: 78–93. 
  • Morris, Benny (2001) Righteous Victims New York, Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-679-74475-7.
  • Eyal Zisser (2002). "June 1967: Israel's capture of the Golan Heights". Israel Studies 7,1: 168–194. 
  • Paris, Timothy J. (2003). Britain, the Hashemites and Arab Rule, 1920–1925: The Sherifian Solution. London: Routledge. ISBN 0714654515
  • Segev, Tom (2000). One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate, Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 0-8050-6587-3
  • Sherman, A J (1998).Mandate Days: British Lives in Palestine, 1918–1948, Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-8018-6620-0
  • Stein, Kenneth W. The Land Question in Palestine, 1917–1939. University of North Carolina, 1984. ISBN 0-8078-1579-9

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