The Palestine Mandate (also known as the British Mandate of Palestine or for Palestine) was a legal instrument for the administration of Palestine formally approved by the League of Nations in June 1922, based on a draft by the principal Allied and associated powers after the First World War. The mandate formalized British rule in Palestine from 1917-1948. The boundaries of two new states were laid down within the territory of the Mandate, Palestine and Transjordan. The preamble of the mandate declared:
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Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national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.
The formal objective of the League of Nations Mandate system was to administer parts of the 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."
When the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers in the First World War in April 1915, it threatened Britain's communications with India via the Suez Canal, besides other strategic interests of the allies.
In response to French initiatives, Great Britain established the De Bunsen Committee in 1915 to consider the nature of British objectives in Turkey and in Asia in the event of a successful conclusion of the war. The committee considered various scenarios and provided guidelines for negotiations with France, Italy, and Russia regarding the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. The Committee recommended in favour of the creation of a decentralised and federal Ottoman state in Asia.
At the same time, the British and French also opened overseas fronts with the Gallipoli (1915) and Mesopotamian campaigns. In Gallipoli, the Turks successfully repelled the British, French and Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs).
In 1916, Britain and France concluded the Sykes–Picot Agreement, which proposed to divide the Middle East between them into spheres of influence, with "Palestine" as an international enclave. (Pappé 1994, p. 3)
The British made two potentially conflicting promises regarding the territory it was expecting to acquire. Britain had promised Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca, through T. E. Lawrence, independence for an Arab country covering most of the Arab Middle East in exchange for his support, while also promising to create and foster a Jewish national home in Palestine in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in return for Jewish support.
From 1915, Zionist leader and anglophile Ze'ev Jabotinsky was pressing the British to agree to the formation of a Zionist volunteer corps that would serve under the aegis of the British army. The British eventually agreed to set up the Zion Mule Corps, which assisted in the failed invasion of Gallipoli.
After Lloyd George was made prime minister during the war, the British waged the Sinai and Palestine Campaign under General Allenby. This time the British agreed to a "Jewish Legion", which participated in the invasion. Russian Jews regarded the German army as a liberator and the creation of the Legion was designed to encourage them to participate in the war on Britain's side.
The Ottoman Empire capitulated on 30 October 1918, and on 23 November 1918, a military edict was issued dividing Ottoman territories into "occupied enemy territories" (OET). The Middle East was divided into three OETs. Occupied Enemy Territory 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. (Biger 2004, pp. 55, 164) 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."
In a meeting at Deauville in 1919, David Lloyd George of Great Britain and Georges Clemenceau of France finalized the Anglo-French Settlement of 1–4 December 1918. The new agreement allocated Palestine and the Vilayet of Mosul to the British in exchange for British support of French influence in Syria and Lebanon.
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. (Biger 2004, p. 173)
At the Paris Peace Conference, Prime Minister Lloyd George told Georges Clemenceau and the other allies that the McMahon-Hussein Notes were a treaty obligation. He explained that the agreement with Hussein had actually been the basis for the Sykes-Picot Agreement, and that the French could not use the proposed League Of Nations Mandate system to break the terms of the agreement. He pointed out that the French had agreed not to occupy the area of the independent Arab state, or confederation of states, with their military forces, including the areas of Damascus, Homs, Hama, and Aleppo. Arthur Balfour (later Lord Balfour, British Foreign Secretary at the time) and President Woodrow Wilson were present at the meeting.
The open negotiations began at the Paris Peace Conference, continued at the Conference of London and took definite shape only after the San Remo conference in April 1920. There the Allied Supreme Council granted the mandates for Palestine and Mesopotamia to Britain, (Biger 2004, p. 173) and those for Syria and Lebanon to France. In August 1920, this was officially acknowledged in the Treaty of Sèvres. Both Zionist and Arab representatives attended the conference, where they met and signed an agreement to cooperate. The agreement was never implemented.
The Official Journal of the League of Nations, dated June 1922, contained an interview with Lord Balfour in which he opined that the League's authority was strictly limited. According to Balfour -
[the] Mandates were not the creation of the League, and they could not in substance be altered by the League. The League's duties were confined to seeing that the specific and detailed terms of the mandates were in accordance with the decisions taken by the Allied and Associated Powers, and that in carrying out these mandates the Mandatory Powers should be under the supervision—not under the control—of the League. A mandate was a self-imposed limitation by the conquerors on the sovereignty which they exercised over the conquered territory.
Each of the principal Allied powers had a hand in drafting the proposed mandate—although some, including the United States, had not declared war on the Ottoman Empire and did not become members of the League of Nations.
The Sykes-Picot Agreement did not call for Arab sovereignty, but for the "suzerainty of an Arab chief" and "an international administration, the form of which is to be decided upon after consultation with Russia, and subsequently in consultation with the other allies, and the representatives of the Sherif of Mecca." Under the terms of that agreement, the Zionist Organization needed to secure an agreement along the lines of the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement with the Sherif of Mecca.
At the Peace Conference in 1919, Emir Faisal, speaking on behalf of King Hussein, asked for Arab independence, or at minimum the right to pick the mandatory. In the end, he recommended an Arab state under a British mandate. The World Zionist Organization also asked for a British mandate, and asserted the 'historic title of the Jewish people to Palestine'.
A confidential appendix to the report of the King-Crane Commission observed that "The Jews are distinctly for Britain as mandatory power, because of the Balfour declaration' and that the French 'resent the payment by the English to the Emir Feisal of a large monthly subsidy, which they claim covers a multitude of bribes, and enables the British to stand off and show clean hands while Arab agents do dirty work in their interest." The Faisal-Weizmann Agreement called for British mediation of any disputes. It also called for the establishment of borders, after the Versailles peace conference, by a commission to be formed for the purpose. The World Zionist Organization later submitted to the peace conference a proposed map of the territory that did not include the area east of the Hedjaz Railway, including most of Transjordan.
The protectorate of the Holy See was a territory granted to the Holy See and to French-Italian delegations under the 1920 San Remo conference. It was ultimately undermined by the Zionist Organization's request for a British mandate.
The mandate was a legal and administrative instrument, not a geographical territory. The territorial jurisdiction of the mandate was subject to change by treaty, capitulation, grant, usage, sufferance or other lawful means. To many observers it seemed as though the boundary of Britain's mandate for Palestine was to extend eastward to the western boundary of its mandate for Mesopotamia. However, the area east of a line from Damascus, Homs, Hamma, and Aleppo - including most of Transjordan - had been pledged in 1915 as part of an undertaking between Great Britain and the Sharif Hussein of Mecca. The area east of the Jordan River 'was included in the areas as to which Great Britain pledged itself that they should be Arab and independent in the future'. At the 1919 Peace Conference, the Zionist Organization's claims did not include any territory east of the Hedjaz Railway. The Faisal-Weizmann Agreement provided that the boundaries between the Arab state and Palestine should be determined by a commission after the Paris Peace Conference.
The proposed Arab state and Jewish national home called for separate boundaries and administrative regimes in the sub-districts of historical Cisjordan (Western Palestine) and Transjordan (Eastern Palestine). The Palestine Order in Council provided that:
The High Commissioner may, with the approval of a Secretary of State, by Proclamation divide Palestine into administrative divisions or districts in such manner and with such subdivisions as may be convenient for purposes of administration describing the boundaries thereof and assigning names thereto.
Under the terms of the McMahon-Hussein and Sykes-Picot agreements, the land east of the Jordan was to be part of an Arab state or confederation of Arab states. When the Inter-Allied Conference at San Remo adjourned in April 1920, the text of the Palestine mandate did not contain Article 25, or mention "the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined". Sanford Silverburg said that "a Palestine" within the western political understanding of the term simply never existed." He observed that the failure to establish a western-based territorial element or frame of reference had clouded discussions and cited the claim that Transjordan had been detached from Palestine as a non-sequitur.
Mary Wilson said that the territory east of the Jordan between Damascus and Ma'an had been ruled as part of Faisal's Kingdom of Syria since the end of the war. Wilson said that was because it fell within the indirect sphere of British influence according to the Sykes-Picot agreement, and because the British were content with that arrangement. They favored Arab rule in the interior, because they didn't have enough troops to garrison the territory. Damascus was located in the French indirect sphere of influence, and the Sykes-Picot agreement called for Arab rule there too. Wilson notes that when France occupied Damascus in July 1920, the situation had changed dramatically. The British suddenly wanted to know 'what is the "Syria" for which the French received a mandate at San Remo?' and 'does it include Transjordania?. British Foreign Minister Curzon ultimately decided that it did not and that Transjordan would remain independent, but in the closest relation with Palestine.
Aaron Klieman said that the French formed a new Damascus state after the battle of Maysalun. As a result, Curzon instructed Vansittart (Paris) to leave the eastern boundary of Palestine undefined. On 21 March 1921, the Foreign and Colonial office legal advisers decided to introduce Article 25 into the Palestine Mandate. It was approved by Curzon on 31 March 1921, and the revised final draft of the mandate (including Transjordan) was forwarded to the League of Nations on 22 July 1922.
Article 25 of the mandate recognized the McMahon-Hussein obligation. It permitted the mandatory to "postpone or withhold application of such provisions of the mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions" in that region. The future Transjordan had been part of the Syrian administrative unit under the Ottomans. It was part of the captured territory placed under the Allied Occupied Enemy Territory Administration (OETA).
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 the High Commissioner, Herbert 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." 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" and subsequently announced that Transjordan was under British Mandate.(Aruri 1972, p. 18) 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 by tacit capitulation. Samuel assured his audience that Transjordan would not be merged with Palestine.(Aruri 1972, p. 18) The foreign secretary, Lord Curzon, repudiated Samuel's action.
The Cairo Conference was convened by Winston Churchill, then Britain's Colonial Secretary, to resolve the problem. With the mandates of Palestine and Iraq awarded to Britain, Churchill wished to consult with Middle East experts. At his request, Gertrude Bell, Sir Percy Cox, T. E. Lawrence, Sir Kinahan Cornwallis, Sir Arnold T. Wilson, Iraqi minister of war Jaʿfar alAskari, Iraqi minister of finance Sasun Effendi (Sasson Heskayl), and others gathered in Cairo, Egypt, in March 1921. The outstanding question was the policy to be adopted in Transjordan to prevent anti-French military actions from being launched within the allied British zone of influence. The Hashemites were Associated Powers during the war, and a peaceful solution was urgently needed.
The two most significant decisions of the conference were to offer the throne of Iraq to Emir Faisal ibn Hussein (who became Faisal I of Iraq) and an emirate of Transjordan (now Jordan) to his brother Abdullah ibn Hussein (who became Abdullah I of Jordan). Transjordan was to be constituted as an Arab province of Palestine. The conference provided the political blueprint for British administration in both Iraq and Transjordan, and in offering these two regions to the sons of Sharif Husssein ibn Ali of the Hedjaz, Churchill believed that the spirit, if not the letter, of Britain's wartime promises to the Arabs might be fulfilled.
After further discussions between Churchill and Abdullah in Jerusalem, it was mutually agreed that Transjordan was accepted into the mandatory area with the proviso that it would be, initially for six months, under the nominal rule of the Emir Abdullah and would not form part of the Jewish national home to be established west of the River Jordan.
That agreement was formalized before the mandate officially went into effect. A clause was included in the charter governing the Mandate for Palestine which allowed Great Britain to postpone or permanently withhold all of the provisions which related to the 'Jewish National Home' on lands which lay to the east of the Jordan River. In September 1922, the British government presented a memorandum to the League of Nations detailing its intended implementation of that clause, and this memorandum was approved on 23 September.
From that point onwards, Britain administered the part west of the Jordan, 23% of the entire territory, as "Palestine", and the part east of the Jordan, 77% of the entire territory, as "Transjordan." Technically they remained one mandate but most official documents referred to them as if they were two separate mandates. Transfer of authority to an Arab government took place gradually in Transjordan, starting with the recognition of a local administration in 1923 and transfer of most administrative functions in 1928. The status of the mandate was not altered by the agreement between the United Kingdom and the Emirate concluded on February 20, 1928. It recognized the existence of an independent government in Transjordan and defined and limited its powers. The ratifications were exchanged on October 31, 1929." Britain retained mandatory authority over the region until it became independent as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan in 1946. The juridical status of the mandate under the Palestine Mandate Convention remained unchanged pending a decision on the Palestine question by the United Nations or Transjordan's admission to the United Nations as an independent state. See Termination of the Mandate.
During and after World War I, Britain made conflicting and shifting commitments regarding the future division and governance of the region, including those announced in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence, and the Churchill White Paper of 1922. At the San Remo conference, the boundaries of the mandated territories were not precisely defined.(Biger 2004, p. 173)
The boundary between the British and French mandates was defined in broad terms by the Franco-British Boundary Agreement of December 1920. 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. The commission submitted its final report on 3 February 1922, and it was approved with some caveats by the British and French governments on 7 March 1923, several months before Britain and France assumed their Mandatory responsibilities on 29 September 1923. Under the treaty, Syrian and Lebanese residents would have the same fishing and navigation rights on Lake Hula, Lake Tiberias, and the Jordan River as citizens of the Palestine Mandate, but the government of Palestine would be responsible for policing of the lakes. The Zionist movement pressured the French and British to include as much water sources as possible to Palestine during the demarcating negotiations. These constant demands influenced the negotiators and finally led to the inclusion of the whole Sea of Galilee, both sides of the Jordan river, Lake Hula, Dan spring, and part of the Yarmouk. The High Commissioner of Palestine, Herbert Samuel, had demanded full control of the Sea of Galilee. The new border followed a 10-meter wide strip along the northeastern shore.
The British Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon, together with the Italian and French governments rejected early drafts of the mandate because it had contained a passage which read: "Recognizing, moreover, the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and the claim which this gives them to reconstitute it their national home..."
The Palestine Committee set up by the Foreign Office recommended that the reference to 'the claim' be omitted. The Allies had already noted the historical connection in the Treaty of Sèvres, but they had recognized no legal claim. They felt that whatever might be done for the Jewish people was based entirely on sentimental grounds. Further, they felt that all that was necessary was to make room for Zionists in Palestine, not that they should turn 'it', that is the whole country, into their home.
Lord Balfour suggested an alternative which was accepted.
Whereas recognition has thereby [i.e. by the Treaty of Sèvres] been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine, and to the [sentimental] grounds for reconstituting their National Home in that country ...
The Vatican, the Italian, and the French governments continued to press their own legal claims on the basis of the former Protectorate of the Holy See and the French Protectorate of Jerusalem. The idea of an International Commission to resolve claims on the Holy Places had been formalized in Article 95 of the Treaty of Sèvres, and taken up again in article 14 of the Palestinian Mandate. Negotiations concerning the formation and the role of the commission were partly responsible for the delay in ratifying the mandate. Great Britain assumed responsibility for the Holy Places under Article 13 of the mandate. However, it never created the Commission on Holy Places to resolve the other claims in accordance with Article 14 of the mandate.
Article 14 of the British Mandate of Palestine required the mandatory administration to establish a commission to study, define, and determine the rights and claims relating to the different religious communities in Palestine. Article 15 required the mandatory administration to see to it that complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship were permitted. Those mandates were never put into effect. The High Commissioner established the authority of the Orthodox Rabbinate over the members of the Jewish community and retained a modified version of the old Ottoman Millet system. Formal recognition was extended to eleven religious communities, which did not include the non-Orthodox Jewish or Protestant Christian denominations.
The San Remo conference assigned the mandate for Palestine to Great Britain under Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. The Allies also decided to make Great Britain responsible for putting into effect its own Balfour Declaration of 1917. In June 1922, the League of Nations approved the terms of the mandate, with the stipulation that they would not come into effect until a dispute between France and Italy over the Syria Mandate was settled. That issue was resolved in September 1923.
The U.S. State Department Digest of International Law says that the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne provided for the application of the principles of state succession to the "A" Mandates. The Treaty of Versailles (1920) provisionally recognized the former Ottoman communities as independent nations. It also required Germany to recognize the disposition of the former Ottoman territories and to recognize the new states laid down within their boundaries. The Treaty of Lausanne required the newly created states that acquired the territory detached from the Ottoman Empire to pay annuities on the Ottoman public debt, and to assume responsibility for the administration of concessions that had been granted by the Ottomans. A dispute regarding the status of the territories was settled by an Arbitrator appointed by the Council of the League of Nations under the terms of the treaty. It was decided that Palestine and Transjordan were newly created states according to the terms of the applicable post-war treaties. In its Judgment No. 5, The Mavrommatis Palestine Concessions, the Permanent Court of International Justice also decided that Palestine was responsible as the successor state for concessions granted by Ottoman authorities. The Courts of Palestine and Great Britain also decided that title to the properties shown on the Ottoman Civil list had been ceded to the government of Palestine as an allied successor state.
The English High Court ruling in the King v Ketter case dealt with nationality under the Mandate. The Court held that the territory of Palestine was not transferred to Great Britain as a consequence of article 30 of the Treaty of Lausanne and that residents were citizens of Palestine, not Great Britain.
The Supreme Court of Palestine ruled in 1945 that Transjordan was a foreign state for the purposes of article 15 of the Palestine Citizenship Order.
In 1919 the General Secretary (and future President) of the Zionist Organization, Nahum Sokolow, published a History of Zionism (1600-1918). He also represented the Zionist Organization at the Paris Peace Conference. He explained:
The object of Zionism is to establish for the Jewish people a home in Palestine secured by public law." ... ...It has been said and is still being obstinately repeated by anti-Zionists again and again, that Zionism aims at the creation of an independent "Jewish State" But this is wholly fallacious. The "Jewish State" was never part of the Zionist programme. The Jewish State was the title of Herzl's first pamphlet, which had the supreme merit of forcing people to think. This pamphlet was followed by the first Zionist Congress, which accepted the Basle programme - the only programme in existence.
The United Nations Special Committee on Palestine said the Jewish National Home, which derived from the formulation of Zionist aspirations in the 1897 Basle program has provoked many discussions concerning its meaning, scope and legal character, especially since it had no known legal connotation and there are no precedents in international law for its interpretation. It was used in the Balfour Declaration and in the Mandate, both of which promised the establishment of a "Jewish National Home" without, however, defining its meaning. A statement on "British Policy in Palestine," issued on 3 June 1922 by the Colonial Office, placed a restrictive construction upon the Balfour Declaration. The statement excluded "the disappearance or subordination of the Arabic population, language or customs in Palestine" or "the imposition of Jewish nationality upon the inhabitants of Palestine as a whole", and made it clear that in the eyes of the mandatory Power, the Jewish National Home was to be founded in Palestine and not that Palestine as a whole was to be converted into a Jewish National Home. The Committee noted that the construction, which restricted considerably the scope of the National Home, was made prior to the confirmation of the Mandate by the Council of the League of Nations and was formally accepted at the time by the Executive of the Zionist Organization.
In 1937 a British Royal Commission headed by Lord Peel proposed solving the Arab-Jewish conflict by partitioning Palestine into two states. The Jewish leadership rejected the plan and developed an alternate proposal. The US Consul General at Jerusalem told the State Department that the Mufti had refused the principle of partition and declined to consider it. The Consul said that the Emir Abdullah urged acceptance on the ground that realities must be faced, but wanted modification of the proposed boundaries and Arab administrations in the neutral enclave. The Consul also noted that Nashashibi side-stepped the principle, but was willing to negotiate for favorable modifications.
A collection of private correspondence published by David Ben Gurion contained a leter written in 1937 which explained that he was in favor of partition because he didn't envision a partial Jewish state as the end of the process. Ben Gurion wrote "What we want is not that the country be united and whole, but that the united and whole country be Jewish." He explained that a first-class Jewish army would permit Zionists to settle in the rest of the country with or without the consent of the Arabs. Benny Morris said that both Chaim Weizmann and David Ben Gurion saw partition as a stepping stone to further expansion and the eventual takeover of the whole of Palestine. Former Israeli Foreign Minister and historian Schlomo Ben Ami writes that 1937 was the same year that the "Field Battalions" under Yitzhak Sadeh wrote the "Avner Plan", which anticipated and laid the groundwork for what would become in 1948, Plan D. It envisioned going far beyond any boundaries contained in the existing partition proposals and planned the conquest of the Galilee, the West Bank, and Jerusalem.
In 1942 the Biltmore Program was adopted as the platform of the World Zionist Organization. It demanded "that Palestine be established as a Jewish Commonwealth." In 1946 an Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, also known as the Grady-Morrison Committee, noted that the demand for a Jewish State went beyond the obligations of either the Balfour Declaration or the Mandate and had been expressly disowned by the Chairman of the Jewish Agency as recently as 1932. The Jewish Agency subsequently refused to accept the Grady Morrison Plan as the basis for discussion. A spokesman for the agency, Eliahu Epstein, told the US State Department that the Agency could not attend the London conference if the Grady-Morrison proposal was on the agenda. He stated that the Agency was unwilling to be placed in a position where it might have to compromise between the Grady-Morrison proposals on the one hand and its own partition plan on the other. He stated that the Agency had accepted partition as the solution for Palestine which it favored.
Following its occupation by British troops in 1917–1918, Palestine was governed by the Occupied Enemy Territory Administration. In July 1920, the military administration was replaced by a civilian administration headed by a High Commissioner. The first High Commissioner, Herbert Samuel, arrived in Palestine on 20 June 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).
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 29 September 1923. The two reports cover periods previous to the application of the mandates."
United States Secretary of State Robert Lansing was a member of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace at Paris in 1919. He viewed the system of mandates as a device created by the Great Powers to conceal their division of the spoils of war, under the colour of international law. If the territories had been ceded directly, the value of the former German and Ottoman territories would have been applied to offset the Allies claims for war reparations.
The United States Senate refused to ratify the Covenant of the League of Nations, in part over a dispute regarding the legality of the mandates. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee had attached a reservation which read: "No mandate shall be accepted by the United States under Article 22, Part 1, or any other provision of the treaty of peace with Germany, except by action of the Congress of the United States." Senator Borah, speaking on behalf on the 'Irreconcilables' completely rejected the proposed system of Mandates as an illegitimate rule by brute force. Before the Palestine Mandate was finally terminated those same sentiments had been expressed by both the Arab and Jewish leaders of Palestine. The US government subsequently entered into individual treaties to secure legal rights for its citizens, and to protect property rights and business interests in the mandates. In the case of the Palestine Mandate Convention, it subjected the terms of the League of Nations mandate to eight amendments.
The resolution of the San Remo Conference contained a safeguarding clause for the existing rights of the non-Jewish communities. The conference accepted the terms of the Mandate with reference to Palestine, on the understanding that there was inserted in the process-verbal a legal undertaking by the Mandatory Power that it would not involve the surrender of the rights hitherto enjoyed by the non-Jewish communities in Palestine. The draft mandates for Mesopotamia and Palestine, and all of the post-war peace treaties contained clauses for the protection of religious groups and minorities. The mandates invoked the compulsory jurisdiction of the Permanent Court of International Justice in the event of any disputes.
Article 62 (LXII) of the Treaty of Berlin, 13 July 1878 dealt with religious freedom and civil and political rights in all parts of the Ottoman Empire. The guarantees have frequently been referred to as "religious rights" or "minority rights". However, the guarantees included a prohibition against discrimination in civil and political matters. Difference of religion could not be alleged against any person as a ground for exclusion or incapacity in matters relating to the enjoyment of civil or political rights, admission to public employments, functions, and honors, or the exercise of the various professions and industries, "in any locality whatsoever."
A legal analysis performed by the International Court of Justice noted that the Covenant of the League of Nations had provisionally recognized the communities of Palestine as independent nations. The mandate simply marked a transitory period, with the aim and object of leading the mandated territory to become an independent self-governing State. Judge Higgins explained that the Palestinian people are entitled to their territory, to exercise self-determination, and to have their own State." The Court said that specific guarantees regarding freedom of movement and access to the Holy Sites contained in the Treaty of Berlin (1878) had been preserved under the terms of the Palestine Mandate and a chapter of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine.
According to historian Rashid Khalidi, the mandate ignored the political rights of the Arabs. The Arab leadership repeatedly pressed the British to grant them national and political rights, such as representative government, over Jewish national and political rights in the remaining 23% of the Mandate of Palestine which the British had set aside for a Jewish homeland. The Arabs reminded the British of President Wilson's Fourteen Points and British promises during the First World War. The British however made acceptance of the terms of the mandate a precondition for any change in the constitutional position of the Arabs. A legislative council was proposed in The Palestine Order in Council, of 1922 which implemented the terms of the mandate. It stated that: "No Ordinance shall be passed which shall be in any way repugnant to or inconsistent with the provisions of the Mandate." For the Arabs, this was unacceptable, as they felt that this would be "self murder". During the whole interwar period, the British, appealing to the terms of the mandate, which they had designed themselves, rejected the principle of majority rule or any other measure that would give an Arab majority control over the government of Palestine.
The terms of the mandate required the establishment of self-governing institutions in both Palestine and Transjordan. In 1947 Foreign Secretary Bevin admitted that during the previous twenty-five years the British had done, their best to further the legitimate aspirations of the Jewish communities without prejudicing the interests of the Arabs, but had failed to "secure the development of self-governing institutions" in accordance with the terms of the Mandate.
During the Mandate, the Yishuv or Jewish community in Palestine, grew from one-sixth to almost one-third of the population. According to official records, 367,845 Jews and 33,304 non-Jews immigrated legally between 1920 and 1945. It was estimated that another 50–60,000 Jews and a small number of non-Jews immigrated illegally during this period. Immigration accounts for most of the increase of Jewish population, while the non-Jewish population increase was largely natural.
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 for its own reasons. In response to numerous Arab attacks on Jewish communities, the Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary organization, was formed on 15 June 1920 to defend Jewish residents. Tensions led to widespread violent disturbances on several occasions, notably in 1921 (see Jaffa riots), 1929 (primarily violent attacks by Arabs on Jews—see 1929 Hebron massacre) and 1936–1939. Beginning in 1936, Jewish groups such as Etzel (Irgun) and Lehi (Stern Gang) conducted campaigns of violence against British military and Arab targets.
Between 1922 and 1947, the annual growth rate of the Jewish sector of the economy was 13.2%, mainly due to immigration and foreign capital, while that of the Arab was 6.5%. Per capita, these figures were 4.8% and 3.6% respectively. By 1936, the Jewish sector had eclipsed the Arab one, and Jewish individuals earned 2.6 times as much as Arabs.(Khalidi 2006, pp. 13–14) Compared to other Arab countries, the Palestinian Arab individuals earned slightly more.(Khalidi 2006, p. 27) In terms of human capital, there was a huge difference. For instance, the literacy rates in 1932 were 86% for the Jews against 22% for the Palestinian Arabs, but Arab literacy was steadily increasing. In this respect, the Palestinian Arabs compared favorably to Egypt and Turkey, but unfavorably to Lebanon.(Khalidi 2006, pp. 14, 24) On the scale of the UN Human Development Index determined for around 1939, of 36 countries, Palestinian Jews were placed 15th, Palestinian Arabs 30th, Egypt 33rd and Turkey 35th.(Khalidi 2006, p. 16) The Jews in Palestine were mainly urban, 76.2% in 1942, while the Arabs were mainly rural, 68.3% in 1942.(Khalidi 2006, p. 17) Overall, Khalidi concludes that Palestinian Arab society, while overmatched by the Yishuv, was as advanced as any other Arab society in the region and considerably more than several.(Khalidi 2006, pp. 29–30)
Under the British Mandate, the country developed economically and culturally. In 1919 the Jewish community founded a centralised Hebrew school system, and the following year established the Assembly of Representatives, the Jewish National Council and the Histadrut labor federation. The Technion university was founded in 1924, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1925.
Under the British Mandate, the office of “Mufti of Jerusalem”, traditionally limited in authority and geographical scope, was refashioned into that of “Grand Mufti of Palestine”. Furthermore, a Supreme Muslim Council (SMC) was established and given various duties, such as the administration of religious endowments and the appointment of religious judges and local muftis. In Ottoman times, these duties had been fulfilled by the bureaucracy in Istanbul.(Khalidi 2006, p. 63) In dealings with the Palestinian Arabs, the British negotiated with the elite rather than the middle or lower classes.(Khalidi 2006, p. 52) They chose Hajj Amin al-Husayni to become Grand Mufti, although he was young and had received the fewest votes from Jerusalem’s Islamic leaders.(Khalidi 2006, pp. 56–57) One of the mufti's rivals, Raghib Bey al-Nashashibi, had already been appointed mayor of Jerusalem in 1920, replacing Musa Kazim, whom the British removed after the Nabi Musa riots of 1920,(Khalidi 2006, pp. 63, 69).(Segev 2000, pp. 127–144)</ref> during which he exhorted the crowd to give their blood for Palestine.(Morris 2001, p. 112) During the entire Mandate period, but especially during the latter half, the rivalry between the mufti and al-Nashashibi dominated Palestinian politics. Khalidi ascribes the failure of the Palestinian leaders to enroll mass support, because of their experiences during the Ottoman Empire period, as they were then part of the ruling elite and accustomed to their commands being obeyed. The idea of mobilising the masses was thoroughly alien to them.(Khalidi 2006, p. 81)
There had already been rioting and attacks on and massacres of Jews in 1921 and 1929. During the 1930s, Palestinian Arab popular discontent with Jewish immigration grew. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, several factions of Palestinian society, especially from the younger generation, became impatient with the internecine divisions and ineffectiveness of the Palestinian elite and engaged in grass-roots anti-British and anti-Zionist activism, organized by groups such as the Young Men's Muslim Association. There was also support for the radical nationalist Independence Party (Hizb al-Istiqlal), which called for a boycott of the British in the manner of the Indian Congress Party. Some took to the hills to fight the British and the Zionists. Most of these initiatives were contained and defeated by notables in the pay of the Mandatory Administration, particularly the mufti and his cousin Jamal al-Husayni. A six-month general strike in 1936 marked the start of the great Palestinian Revolt.(Khalidi 2006, pp. 87–90)
The death of the Shaykh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam at the hands of British police near Jenin in November 1935 generated widespread outrage in the Arab community. Huge crowds accompanied Qassam's body to his grave in Haifa. A few months later, in April 1936, a spontaneous Arab national general strike broke out. The strike lasted until October 1936. During the summer of that year, thousands of Jewish-farmed acres and orchards were destroyed, Jewish civilians were attacked and killed, and some Jewish communities, such as those in Beisan and Acre, fled to safer areas. (Gilbert 1998, p. 80) The violence abated for about a year while the British sent the Peel Commission to investigate. (Khalidi 2006, pp. 87–90)
In 1937, the Peel Commission proposed a partition between a small Jewish state, whose Arab population would have to be transferred, and an Arab state to be attached to Jordan. 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 Zionist Executive and the British government.
Following the rejection of the Peel Commission recommendation, the revolt resumed in autumn 1937. Over the next 18 months, the British lost control of Nablus and Hebron. British forces, supported by 6,000 armed Jewish auxiliary police, suppressed the widespread riots with overwhelming force. The British officer Charles Orde Wingate (who supported a Zionist revival for religious reasons) organized Special Night Squads composed of British soldiers and Jewish volunteers such as Yigal Alon, which “scored significant successes against the Arab rebels in the lower Galilee and in the Jezreel valley”(Black 1991, p. 14) by conducting raids on Arab villages. (Shapira 1992, pp. 247, 249, 350) The Jewish militia Irgun used violence also against civilians, attacking marketplaces and buses.
The Revolt resulted in the deaths of 5,000 Palestinians and the wounding of 10,000. In total, 10% of the adult male population was killed, wounded, imprisoned, or exiled.(Khalidi 2001, p. 26) By the time it concluded in March 1939, more than 5,000 Arabs, 400 Jews, and 200 Britons had been killed and at least 15,000 Arabs were wounded. From 1936 to 1945, whilst establishing collaborative security arrangements with the Jewish Agency, the British confiscated 13,200 firearms from Arabs and 521 weapons from Jews.(Khalidi 1987, p. 845)
The attacks on the Jewish population by Arabs had three lasting effects: First, they led to the formation and development of Jewish underground militias, primarily the Haganah, which were to prove decisive in 1948. Secondly, it became clear that the two communities could not be reconciled, and the idea of partition was born. Thirdly, the British responded to Arab opposition with the White Paper of 1939, which severely restricted Jewish land purchase and immigration. However, with the advent of World War II, even this reduced immigration quota was not reached. The White Paper policy also radicalized segments of the Jewish population, who after the war would no longer cooperate with the British.
The revolt had a negative effect on Palestinian national leadership, social cohesion, and military capabilities and contributed to the outcome of the 1948 War because “when the Palestinians faced their most fateful challenge in 1947–49, they were still suffering from the British repression of 1936–39, and were in effect without a unified leadership. Indeed, it might be argued that they were virtually without any leadership at all”.(Khalidi 2001, p. 28)
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. A number of leaders and public figures saw an Axis victory as the likely outcome and a way of securing Palestine back from the Zionists and the British. Even though Arabs were not highly regarded by Nazi racial theory, the Nazis encouraged Arab support as a counter to British hegemony. SS-Reichsfuehrer Heinrich Himmler was keen to exploit this going so far as to enlist the aid of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammad Amin al-Husayni sending him the following telegram on November 2, 1943:
"'To the Grand Mufti: The National Socialist movement of Greater Germany has, since its inception, inscribed upon its flag the fight against the world Jewry. It has therefore followed with particular sympathy the struggle of freedom-loving Arabs, especially in Palestine, against Jewish interlopers. In the recognition of this enemy and of the common struggle against it lies the firm foundation of the natural alliance that exists between the National Socialist Greater Germany and the freedom-loving Muslims of the whole world. In this spirit I am sending you on the anniversary of the infamous Balfour declaration my hearty greetings and wishes for the successful pursuit of your struggle until the final victory - Reichsfuehrer S.S. Heinrich Himmler"
The Mufti would spend the rest of the war in Nazi Germany and the occupied areas, in particular encouraging Muslim Bosniaks to join the Waffen SS in German-conquered Bosnia. About 6,000 Palestinian Arabs and 30,000 Palestinian Jews joined the British forces.
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 — a highly-trained regular unit belonging to Haganah (which was mostly made up of reserve troops).
On 3 July 1944, the British government consented to the establishment of a Jewish Brigade with hand-picked Jewish and also non-Jewish senior officers.
On 20 September 1944, an official communique by the War Office announced the formation of the Jewish Brigade Group of the British Army.
From Palestine Regiment, two brigades, one Jewish, under the command of Brigadier Ernest Benjamin, and another Arab were sent to join allied forces on Italian Front having took part of final offensive there. As well as on a Papal audience for representatives of the liberating Allied units. The Jewish brigade then it was stationed in Tarvisio, near the border triangle of Italy, Yugoslavia, and Austria, there it played a key role in the Berihah's efforts to help Jews escape Europe for Palestine, a role many of its members would continue after the Brigade disbanded. Among its projects was the education and care of the Selvino children. Later, veterans of the Jewish Brigade became key participants of the new State of Israel's Israel Defense Force.
In 1939, as a consequence of the MacDonald White Paper, the British reduced the number of immigrants allowed into Palestine. World War II and the Holocaust started shortly thereafter and once the 15,000 annual quota was exceeded, Jews fleeing Nazi persecution were placed in detention camps or deported to places such as Mauritius.
Starting in 1939, a clandestine immigration effort known as Aliya Bet was spearheaded by an organization known as Mossad Le'aliyah Bet. Tens of thousands of European Jews were rescued 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 World War II.
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 that 100,000 Jews be immediately granted entry to Palestine, the British maintained the ban on immigration.
The Jewish Lehi (Fighters for the Freedom of Israel) and Irgun (National Military Organization) movements initiated violent uprisings against the British Mandate in 1940 and 1944 respectively. On 6 November 1944, Eliyahu Hakim and Eliyahu Bet Zuri (members of Lehi) assassinated Lord Moyne in Cairo. Moyne was the British Minister of State for the Middle East and the assassination is said by some to have turned British Prime Minister Winston Churchill against the Zionist cause. The ban on Jewish immigration continued. After the assassination of Lord Moyne, the Haganah kidnapped, interrogated, and turned over to the British many members of the Irgun (the "The Hunting Season"). Irgun ordered its members not to resist or retaliate with violence, so as to prevent a civil war. The three main Jewish underground forces later united to form the Jewish Resistance Movement and carry out several terrorist attacks and bombings against the British administration. 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 illegal Jewish immigrants in Cyprus.
The negative publicity resulting from the situation in Palestine caused the mandate to become widely unpopular in Britain, and caused the United States Congress to delay granting the British vital loans for reconstruction. The British Labour party had promised before its election to allow mass Jewish migration into Palestine but reneged on this promise once in office. Anti-British Jewish terrorism increased and the situation required maintenance of over 100,000 British troops in the country. Following the Acre Prison break and hanging of British Sergeants by the Irgun, the British announced their desire to terminate the mandate and withdraw by May 1948.
The British Peel Commission had proposed a Palestine divided between a Jewish state and an Arab state. But in the 1939 White Paper Britain changed its position and sought to limit Jewish immigration from Europe. This was seen by Zionists and their sympathisers as betrayal of the terms of the mandate, especially in light of the increasing persecution of Jews in Europe. In response, Zionists organized Aliyah Bet, a program of illegal immigration into Palestine. Lehi, a small group of extreme Zionists, staged armed attacks on British authorities in Palestine. However, the Jewish Agency, which represented the mainstream Zionist leadership, still hoped to persuade Britain to allow resumed Jewish immigration, and cooperated with Britain in World War II.
The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry in 1946 was a joint attempt by Britain and the United States to agree on a policy regarding the admission of Jews to Palestine. In April, the Committee reported that its members had arrived at a unanimous decision. The Committee approved the American recommendation of the immediate acceptance of 100,000 Jewish refugees from Europe into Palestine. It also recommended that there be no Arab, and no Jewish State. The Committee stated that "in order to dispose, once and for all, of the exclusive claims of Jews and Arabs to Palestine, we regard it as essential that a clear statement of principle should be made that Jew shall not dominate Arab and Arab shall not dominate Jew in Palestine." U.S. President Harry S. Truman angered the British Labour Party by issuing a statement supporting the 100,000 refugees but refusing to acknowledge the rest of the committee's findings. Britain had asked for U.S assistance in implementing the recommendations. The U.S. War Department had said earlier that to assist Britain in maintaining order against an Arab revolt, an open-ended U.S. commitment of 300,000 troops would be necessary. The immediate admission of 100,000 new Jewish immigrants would almost certainly have provoked an Arab uprising.
These events were the decisive factors that forced Britain to announce their desire to terminate the Palestine Mandate and place the Question of Palestine before the United Nations, the successor to the League of Nations. The UN created UNSCOP (the UN Special Committee on Palestine) on 15 May 1947, with representatives from 11 countries. UNSCOP conducted hearings and made a general survey of the situation in Palestine, and issued its report on 31 August. Seven members (Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, Netherlands, Peru, Sweden, and Uruguay) recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states, with Jerusalem to be placed under international administration. Three members (India, Iran, and Yugoslavia) supported the creation of a single federal state containing both Jewish and Arab constituent states. Australia abstained. On 29 November, 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 U.S. and the Soviet Union supported the resolution. Haiti, Liberia, and the Philippines changed their votes at the last moment after concerted pressure from the U.S. and from Zionist organisations. The five members of the Arab League who were voting members at the time voted against the Plan.
The Jewish Agency, which was the Jewish state-in-formation, accepted the plan, and nearly all the Jews in Palestine rejoiced at the news. Israeli history books mention 29 November as the most important date in the creation of Israel.
The partition plan was rejected out of hand by Palestinian Arab leaders and by most of the Arab population. Meeting in Cairo in November and December 1947, the Arab League then adopted a series of resolutions aimed at a military solution to the conflict.
Britain refused to implement the plan, arguing it was not acceptable to both sides. Britain also refused to share the administration of Palestine with the UN Palestine Commission during the transitional period, and decided to terminate the Mandate on 15 May 1948.
Some Jewish organizations also opposed the proposal. Irgun leader Menachem Begin 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." These views were publicly rejected by the majority of the nascent Jewish state.
The Yalta Conference mentioned that mandates should be placed under United Nations trusteeship. The Jewish Agency knew the United Nations Charter would say something on those subjects. The Agency wrote a memo to the San Francisco Conference requesting a safeguarding clause that said no trusteeship agreement could alter the Jewish right to nationhood secured by the Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate. The conference implicitly rejected that suggestion by stipulating in article 80 of the Charter that a trusteeship agreement could in fact alter a mandate.. The negotiating history of Article 80 of the UN Charter recorded in the Foreign Relations of the United States, indicates that it was developed as a "status quo" agreement with respect to the Palestine mandate. It was included at the insistence of the Arab League, who were afraid the 1939 White Paper policy would be relaxed.
When Great Britain announced plans for Transjordanian independence, the final Assembly of the League of Nations and the General Assembly both adopted resolutions which indicated support for the proposal. However, the Jewish Agency and many legal scholars raised objections. Duncan Hall said that each mandate was in the nature of a treaty, and that being treaties, the mandates could not be amended unilaterally. John Marlowe noted that despite Transjordan's theoretical independence as conferred by the 1946 Treaty, the Arab Legion continued to be used, under nominal Transjordanian but actual British command, for police duties and for frontier control in Palestine. The Jewish Agency spokesmen said that Transjordan was an integral part of Palestine, and that according to Article 80 of the UN Charter, the Jewish people had a secured interest in its territory.
The Anglo-American treaty, also known as the Palestine Mandate Convention, permitted the US to delay any unilateral British action to terminate the mandate. The earlier proclamation of the independence of Syria and Lebanon had said "the independence and sovereignty of Syria and Lebanon will not affect the juridical situation as it results from the Mandate Act. Indeed, this situation could be changed only with the agreement of the Council of the League of Nations, with the consent of the Government of the United States, a signatory of the Franco-American Convention of April 4, 1924".
The U.S. adopted the policy that formal termination of the mandate with respect to Transjordan would follow the earlier precedent established by the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon. That meant termination would generally be recognized upon the admission of Transjordan into the United Nations as a fully independent country. Members of the U.S. Congress introduced resolutions demanding that the U.S. Representative to the United Nations be instructed to seek postponement of any international determination of the status of Transjordan until the future status of Palestine as a whole was determined. The U.S. State Department also received a long detailed legal argument from Rabbis Wise and Silver objecting to the independence of Transjordan. At the 1947 Pentagon Conference, the U.S. advised Great Britain it was withholding recognition of Transjordan pending a decision on the Palestine question by the United Nations.
The British had notified the U.N. of their intent to terminate the mandate not later than 1 August 1948,
During the General Assembly deliberations on Palestine, there were suggestions that it would be desirable to incorporate part of Transjordans' territory into the proposed Jewish state. A few days before the November 29, 1947 decision on partition, U.S. Secretary of State Marshall noted frequent references had been made by the Ad Hoc Committee regarding the desirability of the Jewish State having both the Negev and an "outlet to the Red Sea and the Port of Aqaba."
The 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, but not by the surrounding Arab states. Over the next few days, approximately 1,000 Lebanese, 5,000 Syrian, 5,000 Iraqi, 10,000 Egyptian troops invaded Palestine. Over 4,000 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. On the date of British withdrawal, the Jewish provisional government declared the formation of the State of Israel. The partition plan required that the proposed states grant full civil rights to all people within their borders, regardless of race, religion or gender. Although Israel acknowledged that obligation, legal scholars, including Prof. James Crawford and Prof. William Thomas Mallison, have noted that Israel did not comply with the prescribed conditions for protection of minorities.
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 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.
A discrepancy between the two censuses and records of births, deaths and immigration, led the authors of the second census to postulate the illegal immigration of about 9,000 Jews and 4,000 Arabs during the intervening years.
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.
|Average compounded population
growth rate per annum, 1922–45
The following table gives the demographics of each of the 16 districts of the Mandate.
|Demographics of Palestine by district as of 1945|
|Data from the Survey of Palestine|
As of 1931, the territory of the British Mandate of Palestine was 26,625,600 dunams (26,625.6 km2), of which 8,252,900 dunams (8,252.9 km2) or 33% were arable. Official statistics show that Jews privately and collectively owned 1,393,531 dunams (1,393.53 km2) of land in 1945. Estimates of the total volume of land that Jews had purchased by 15 May 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 31 March 1936. According to Avneri, Jews held 1,850,000 dunams (1,850 km2) of land in 1947. Stein gives the estimate of 2,000,000 dunams (2,000 km2) as of May 1948.
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|
|Data from the Land Ownership of Palestine|
The land owned privately and collectively by Jews, Arabs and other non-Jews can be classified as urban, rural built-on, cultivable (farmed), and uncultivable. The following chart shows the ownership by Jews, Arabs and other non-Jews in each of the categories.
|Land ownership of Palestine (in Square kilometres), as of April 1, 1943|
|Category of land||Arab and other non-Jewish ownership||Jewish ownership||Total Land|
|Cereal (not taxable)||900.29||51.05||951.34|
|Data is from Survey of Palestine (Vol II, p566). By the end of 1946, Jewish ownership had increased to 1624 km2.|