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British Mandate for Palestine (legal instrument)

League of Nations - Mandate for Palestine and Transjordan Memorandum
British Command Paper 1785, December 1922, containing the Mandate for Palestine and the Transjordan memorandum
Created 1920-2
Ratified 1923
Signatories League of Nations
Purpose Creation of the territories of Palestine and Transjordan

The British Mandate for Palestine, or simply the Mandate for Palestine, was a legal commission for the administration of the territory that had formerly constituted the Ottoman Empire sanjaks of Nablus, Acre, the Southern portion of the Beirut Vilayet, and the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem, prior to the Armistice of Mudros. The draft of the Mandate was formally confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922, supplemented via the 16 September 1922 Transjordan memorandum[1][2] and then came into effect on 29 September 1923[1] following the ratification of the Treaty of Lausanne.[3][4] The mandate ended at midnight on 14 May 1948.

The document was based on the principles contained in Article 22 of the draft Covenant of the League of Nations and the San Remo Resolution of 25 April 1920, by the principal Allied and associated powers after the First World War.[1] The mandate formalised British rule in the southern part of Ottoman Syria from 1923–1948.

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."[5] The mandate document formalised the creation of two British protectorates: Palestine, to include a national home for the Jewish people, under direct British rule, and Transjordan, an Emirate governed semi-autonomously from Britain, under the rule of the Hashemite family.[1]


  • Background 1
    • Military defeat of the Ottoman Empire 1.1
    • Occupied Enemy Territory Administration 1.2
  • Negotiations 2
  • Legal basis and drafting of the mandate 3
  • Establishment of a national home for the Jewish people 4
  • 5 Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations
  • Transjordan 6
  • Religious and communal issues 7
  • Borders 8
    • Northern borders 8.1
    • Southern borders 8.2
    • Eastern borders 8.3
    • Administrative divisions in Palestine 8.4
  • Approvals and Ratification 9
    • Ottoman / Turkish ratification 9.1
    • League of Nations approval 9.2
    • United States acceptance 9.3
  • Key Mandate dates from assignment to coming into effect 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • Bibliography 13
  • External links 14
    • Primary sources 14.1


Military defeat of the Ottoman Empire

Zones of French, British and Russian influence and control proposed in the Sykes–Picot Agreement

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. The conquest of Palestine became part of British strategies aimed at establishing a land bridge between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. This would enable rapid deployment of troops to the Gulf, then the forward line of defence for British interests in India, and protect against invasion from the north by Russia. A land bridge was also an alternative to the Suez Canal.[6]

In response to French initiatives, the United Kingdom established the de Bunsen Committee in 1915 to consider the nature of British objectives in Turkey and 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.[7]

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).

From 1915, 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.

At the same time, British intelligence officer T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") was encouraging an Arab Revolt led by the Sharif of Mecca.

The British defeated Ottoman Turkish forces in 1917 and occupied Ottoman Syria, which would later be divided to British Palestine and TransJordan and French Syria and Lebanon. The land remained under British military administration for the remainder of the war, and beyond.

Occupied Enemy Territory Administration

Occupied Enemy Territory Administrations, 1918 Syria

The Ottoman Empire capitulated on 30 October 1918, and on 23 November 1918, a military edict was issued dividing Ottoman territories into "occupied enemy territory administrations" (OETAs). The Middle East was divided into three OETAs. Occupied Enemy Territory Administration 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 (Major General Sir Arthur Wigram Money) would administer this sector.[8][9][10] 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."[11]

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)


Map presented by TE Lawrence to the Eastern Committee of the War Cabinet in November 1918[12]
British Cabinet map showing boundaries of the proposed mandates in early 1921, including those areas not yet delimited

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. In the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence of 1915 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.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement did not call for Arab sovereignty, but for the "Faisal-Weizmann Agreement with the Sherif of Mecca.

At the Peace Conference in 1919,

  • Yale Law School, Avalon Project, archive copy of the Palestine Mandate

Primary sources

  • League of Nations Mandate for Palestine
  • Resources > Modern Period > 20th Cent. > History of Israel > Building a State > British Mandate (1917–1948) The Jewish History Resource Center, Project of the Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • "Mandate Unscrambled.". Time Magazine. 9 July 1937. Retrieved 14 October 2009. 
  • British Mandate of Palestine

External links

  • Louis, Wm. Roger (1969). The United Kingdom and the Beginning of the Mandates System, 1919–1922. International Organization, 23(1), pp. 73–96.
  • Paris, Timothy J. (2003). Britain, the Hashemites and Arab Rule, 1920–1925: The Sherifian Solution. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-7146-5451-5


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Palestine Royal Commission Report Presented by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to Parliament by Command of His Majesty, July 1937, Cmd. 5479. His Majesty’s Stationery Office., London, 1937. 404 pages + maps.
  2. ^ a b Marjorie M. Whiteman, Digest of International Law, vol. 1, US State Department (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1963) pp 650–652
  3. ^ a b "The final draft was presented to the British Parliament in August 1921, the Palestine Mandate was approved by the League of Nations in July 1922, and finally on 28 September 1923 it was ratified under the Treaty of Lausanne." The roots of separatism in Palestine: British economic policy, 1920-1929, Barbara Jean Smith, Syracuse University Press, 1993
  4. ^ a b "It was formally approved by the League of Nations on 24 July 1922, but did not come legally into force until after the ratification of the Treaty of Lausanne on 28 September 1923." The seat of Pilate; an account of the Palestine Mandate, John Marlowe, Cresset Press, 1959
  5. ^ Article 22, The Covenant of the League of Nations and "Mandate for Palestine," Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol. 11, p. 862, Keter Publishing House, Jerusalem, 1972
  6. ^ [1]Tom Segev's New Mandate, Yehoshua Porath
  7. ^ The Middle East and North Africa in World Politics: A Documentary Record, by J. C. Hurewitz, 1979, Yale University Press; 2nd edition, ISBN 0-300-02203-4, page 26, BRITISH WAR AIMS IN OTTOMAN ASIA: REPORT OF THE DE BUNSEN COMMITTEE 30 June 1915
  8. ^ (Biger 2004, pp. 55, 164)
  9. ^ The others included Occupied Enemy Territories North (Lebanon) under the command of French Colonel De Piape and Occupied Enemy Territory East (Syria and Transjordan) under the command of Faisal's chief of staff, General Ali Riza el-Riqqabi.
  10. ^ See also "The Armistice in the Middle East," in
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Lawrence's Mid-East map on show
  13. ^ The Sykes-Picot Agreement: 1916, Avalon Project
  14. ^ Foreign Relations of the United States, Statement of Emir Faisal to the Council of Ten
  15. ^ DESIRES OF HEDJAZ STIR PARIS CRITICS; Arab Kingdom's Aspirations Clash With French Aims in Asia Minor
  16. ^ Statement of the Zionist Organization regarding Palestine, 3 February 1919
  17. ^ The King-Crane Commission Report, 28 August 1919 Confidential Appendix
  18. ^ The Vatican and Zionism: Conflict in the Holy Land, 1895–1925, Sergio I. Minerbi, Oxford University Press, USA, 1990, ISBN 0-19-505892-5
  19. ^ a b (Biger 2004, p. 173)
  20. ^ 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 Faisal 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.
  21. ^ Allenby and British Strategy in the Middle East, 1917–1919, Matthew Hughes, Taylor & Francis, 1999, ISBN 0-7146-4473-0, page 122
  22. ^ Pappé 1994, pp. 3–5. Pappé suggests that the French concessions were made to guarantee British support for French aims at the post-war peace conference concerning Germany and Europe.
  23. ^ see pages 1–10 of the minutes of the meeting of the Council of Four starting here: [2]
  24. ^
  25. ^ San Remo Convention
  26. ^ 'Date on which the question of the Draft Mandate for Palestine should be placed on the Agenda of the Council'.
  27. ^ Palestine Papers, 1917–1922, Doreen Ingrams, 1973, George Brazziller Edition, Chapter 9, Drafting the Mandate
  28. ^ The Palestine Mandate, The Avalon Project
  29. ^ Palestine Papers, 1917–1922, Doreen Ingrams, George Braziller 1973 Edition, pages 98–103
  30. ^ The End of the French Religious Protectorate in Jerusalem (1918–1924), Catherine Nicault
  31. ^ (Aruri 1972, p. 17)
  32. ^ a b Empires of the sand: the struggle for mastery in the Middle East, 1789-1923, By Efraim Karsh, Inari Karsh
  33. ^ Douglas J. Feith et al. (1994). Israel's Legitimacy in Law and History. Center for Near East Policy. pp. 5–6 & 102.  
  34. ^ FRUS, United States Department of State / Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919 "Aide-Memoire in Regard to the Occupation of Syria, Palestine and Mesopotamia Pending the Decision in Regard to Mandates", 1. Steps will be taken immediately to prepare for the evacuation by the British Army of Syria and Cilicia including the Taurus tunnel. 2. Notice is given both to the French Government and to the Emir Feisal of our intentions to commence the evacuation of Syria and Cilicia on November 1, 1919... ...6. The territories occupied by British troops will then be Palestine, defined in accordance with its ancient boundaries of Dan to Beersheba.
  35. ^ a b Hubert Young to Ambassador Hardinge (Paris), 27 July 1920, FO 371/5254, cited in King Abdullah, Britain and the Making of Jordan, Mary Christina Wilson, Cambridge,1988, ISBN 0-521-32421-1, page 44
  36. ^ Sicker, Martin (1999). Reshaping Palestine: From Muhammad Ali to the British Mandate, 1831-1922. p. 158. On August 7, 1920, Herbert Samuel, the recently appointed high commissioner in Palestine, cabled London requesting permission to include Trans-Jordan directly under his administrative control, thereby allowing him to take the necessary steps to restore order in the territory. This would eliminate the threat of a French attempt to control the region from Damascus. London, however, troubled by a declining economy at home and seeking ways to reduce military expenditures, was unwilling to commit any significant resources to an area that it considered to be of only marginal value. Curzon therefore rejected Samuel’s appeal and proposed instead that a few political officers be sent to “such places as Salt and Kerak, provided that no military escorts are necessary to ensure their safety…. The duties of these officers should be confined to encouraging local self-government and to giving such advice as is asked for by the people…. There must be no question of setting up any British Administration in that area." 
  37. ^ "Palestine, therefore, was not partitioned in 1921–1922. Transjordan was not excised but, on the contrary, added to the mandatory area. Zionism was barred from seeking to expand there – but the Balfour Declaration had never previously applied to the area east of the Jordan. Why is this important? Because the myth of Palestine's 'first partition' has become part of the concept of 'Greater Israel' and of the ideology of Jabotinsky's Revisionist movement." Wasserstein, Bernard (2004). Israel and Palestine: Why They Fight and Can They Stop?, pp. 105–106.
  38. ^ Wilson, Mary (1990). King Abdullah, Britain and the Making of Jordan. p. 44. Retrieved Feb 26, 2012. Since the end of the war the territory north of Ma'an had been ruled by Damascus as a province of Faysal's Kingdom of Syria. Although it fell within the British zone according to the Sykes-Picot agreemen, Britain was content with the arrangement because it favoured Arab rule in the interior and Faysal was, after all, British protege. However, when France occupied Damascus the picture changed dramatically. Britain did not want to see France extend its control southward to the borders of Palestine and closer to the Suez Canal.... It suddenly became important to know 'what is the "Syria" for which the French received a mandate at San Remo?' and 'does it include Transjordania?'... The British foreign secretary, Lord Curzon, decided that it did not and that Britain henceforth would regard the area as independent, but in 'closest relation' with Palestine. 
  39. ^ Norman Bentwich, England in Palestine, p51, "The High Commissioner had ... only been in office a few days when Emir Faisal ... had to flee his kingdom" and "The departure of Faisal and the breaking up of the Emirate of Syria left the territory on the east side of Jordan in a puzzling state of detachment. It was for a time no-man's-land. In the Ottoman regime the territory was attached to the Vilayet of Damascus; under the Military Administration it had been treated a part of the eastern occupied territory which was governed from Damascus; but it was now impossible that that subordination should continue, and its natural attachment was with Palestine. The territory was, indeed, included in the Mandated territory of Palestine, but difficult issues were involved as to application there of the clauses of the Mandate concerning the jewish National Home. The undertakings given to the Arabs as to the autonomous Arab region included the territory. Lastly, His Majesty's Government were unwilling to embark on any definite commitment, and vetoed any entry into the territory by the troops. The Arabs were therefore left to work out their destiny."
  40. ^ Telegram from Earl Curzon to Sir Herbert Samuel, dated 6 August 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 1972, p. 17
  41. ^ Telegram 7 August 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 1972, p. 18
  42. ^ a b (Aruri 1972, p. 18)
  43. ^ Wilson, Mary (1990). King Abdullah, Britain and the Making of Jordan. pp. 46–48. Retrieved Feb 26, 2012. Samuel then organised a meeting of Transjordanian leaders at Salt on 21 August, at which he would announce British plans... On 20 August Samuel and a few political officers left Jerusalem by car, headed for the Jordan river, the frontier of British territory at that time. ‘It is an entirely irregular proceeding,’ he noted, ‘my going outside my own jurisdiction into a country which was Faisal’s, and is still being administered by the Damascus Government, now under French influence. But it is equally irregular for a government under French influence to be exercising functions in territory which is agreed to be within the British sphere: and of the two irregularities I prefer mine.’... The meeting, held in the courtyard of the Catholic church, was attended by about 600 people..... Sentence by sentence his speech describing British policy was translated into Arabic: political officers would be stationed in towns to help organize local governments; Transjordan would not come under Palestinian administration; there would be no conscription and no disarmament......On balance, Samuel’s statement of policy was unobjectionable. Three things feared by the Arabs of Transjordan – conscription, disarmament, and annexation by Palestine - were abjured.... The presence of a few British agents, unsupported by troops, seemed a small concession in return for the protection Britain’s presence would afford against the French, who, it was feared, might press their occupation southward... Samuel returned to Jerusalem well pleased with the success of his mission. He left behind several officers to see to the administration of Transjordan and the maintenance of British influence. 
  44. ^ Bernard Wasserstein, ‘Samuel, Herbert Louis, first Viscount Samuel (1870–1963)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, September 2004; online edn, May 2006 accessed 21 April 2007.
  45. ^ Wilson, Mary (1990). King Abdullah, Britain and the Making of Jordan. p. 48. Retrieved Feb 26, 2012. Abdullah’s arrival in Ma’an on 21 November threatened to disrupt Samuel’s cosy arrangement. According to reports, Abdullah had a force of 300 men and six machine guns. 
  46. ^ Sicker, Martin (1999). Reshaping Palestine: From Muhammad Ali to the British Mandate, 1831-1922. pp. 159–161. In January 1921, it was reported in Kerak that Abdullah was advancing toward the town at the head of his army. Kirkbride appealed to Samuel for instructions. The political officer had a total force of only fifty Arab policemen at his disposal and quite simply did not know what to do. Several weeks later he received the following reply from Jerusalem: “It is considered most unlikely that the Emir Abdullah would advance into territory which is under British control... Two days later Abdullah’s troops marched into British-controlled Moab. Unable to stop him, Kirkbride decided to welcome him instead. With Abdullah’s arrival the National Government of Moab went out of existence. Buoyed by his easy success, he decided to proceed to Amman. By the end of March 1921 Abdullah and his small army had effectively occupied most of Trans-Jordan unopposed... There seemed to be only two options. Either the British army had to be sent in to evict him or the French had to be allowed to cross the frontier to accomplish the task. Both courses of action were considered to be completely unacceptable. The government was simply not prepared to go to the expense of sending an army to fight in a territory of such marginal importance as Trans-Jordan, and it was equally inconceivable that British policy would permit French intervention and occupation of the area. There was, however, another alternative, which was suggested by Churchill. He observed that it was most important that the government of Trans-Jordan be compatible with that of Iraq because British strategy called for a direct overland link between Egypt and the Persian Gulf, which would have to cross both territories. Since in the meantime Feisal had been given the throne of Iraq, it might well serve British purposes to make his brother, Abdullah, ruler of Trans-Jordan or to appoint an indigenous leader approved by him. 
  47. ^ [Appendix 2, Memorandum drawn up in London by Middle East Department Prior to Palestine Conference, p30, Report on Middle East Conference held in Cairo and Jerusalem, 12 March 1921, CO935/1/1]
  48. ^ Palestine Papers, 1917–1922, Doreen Ingrams, George Braziller 1973 Edition, pages 116–117
  49. ^ Ian Lustick (1988). For the Land and the Lord: Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel. Council on Foreign Relations. p. 37.  
  50. ^ Wilson, Mary (1990). King Abdullah, Britain and the Making of Jordan. p. 53. Retrieved Feb 26, 2012. Abdullah began by suggesting the unification of Palestine and Transjordan under an Arab ruler, or the unification of Transjordan and Iraq. Both ideas were firmly squashed. In the end he agreed to take responsibility for Transjordan alone for a period of six months. .........It was further agreed that no British troops would be stationed there... With this agreement, the division of the Fertile Crescent into separate states dominated by either Britain or France was completed. Despite the short term nature of the arrangement, Transjordan proved to be a lasting creation. For Abdullah himself his six months lasted a life time. 
  51. ^ Roger Louis, William (1985). The British Empire in the Middle East, 1945-1951. p. 348. Retrieved Feb 26, 2012. In return for providing a rudimentary administration and obviating the need for British military occupation, Abdullah in March 1921 gained assurance from Churchhill, then Colonial Secretary, that no Jews would be allowed to settle in Transjordan. That guarantee effectively created Transjordan as an Arab country apart from Palestine, where the British commitment to a 'national home' remained a delicate problem between Abdullah and the British. 
  52. ^ "Foundations of British Policy In The Arab World: The Cairo Conference of 1921", Aaron S. Klieman, Johns Hopkins, 1970, ISBN 0-8018-1125-2, pages 228–234
  53. ^ Sicker, Martin (1999). Reshaping Palestine: From Muhammad Ali to the British Mandate, 1831-1922. pp. 163–165. The arbitrary creation by Britain of an Arab Emirate of Transjordan required a previously nonexisting legal framework to be concocted in order to allow this new entity to be formally recognized. Colonel Meinertzhagen noted this in his diary on June 21, 1921. “The Colonial Office and the Palestine Administration have now declared that the articles of the mandate relating to the Jewish Home are not applicable to Transjordan and that the severance of Transjordan from Palestine is in accordance with the terms of the McMahon pledge. This discovery was not made until it became necessary to appease an Arab Emir... Balfour submitted the first draft of the Palestine Mandate to the Council of the League of Nations on December 6, 1920. There was nothing in that document that would provide the basis for distinguishing Trans-Jordan from the rest of Palestine. Of course, this was before Abdullah’s appearance on the scene in the territory and Churchill’s decision to strike a bargain with him. To deal with the new political reality, a revised draft of the mandate was released in August 1921, which incorporated the change in British policy. In this revised final draft of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, a device was included that provided the “after the fact” basis for Britain’s separation of Trans-Jordan from Palestine. The revised Article 25 stated: “In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions, and to make such provision for the administration of the territories as he may consider suitable to those conditions... On July 24, 1922, the League of Nations approved the terms of the British mandate covering Palestine and Transjordan... Notwithstanding the new version of the mandate, the Zionist leaders at the time were unwilling to consider the exclusion of Trans-Jordan from the Jewish homeland as an accomplished fact. They viewed it as a clear and cynical betrayal of commitments made to them by Britain in collusion with the major powers, and something they could not accept without a struggle. There was a sense that the effect of the partition could be undone by creating facts on the ground that negated it. Thus, at the Twelfth Zionist Congress held that same year, Weizmann stated, while discussing the question of Palestine’s eastern frontier: “The question will be still better answered when Cisjordania is so full of Jews that a way is forced into Transjordania.”47 However, this expectation proved to be illusory. 
  54. ^ a b Article 25 of the Mandate for Palestine
  55. ^ LofN Official Journal, Nov 1922, pp1188-1189
  56. ^ Palestine and International Law, Essays on Politics and Economics, ed. Sanford R. Silverburg, McFarland, 2002, ISBN 0-7864-1191-0, page 14, footnote 37
  57. ^  
  58. ^ League of Nations Official Journal, Nov. 1922, pp. 1188–1189.
  59. ^ 1946 Aide-Memoire from "The British Embassy to the Department of State"
  60. ^ Alon, Yoav (2009). The Making of Jordan: Tribes, Colonialism and the Modern State. pp. 40, 49, 50. Retrieved Feb 26, 2012. Abdullah accepted Churchill’s offer and returned to Amman to organise his new rule. He dissolved the local governments formed by the British and established three administrative provinces (liwa’): cAjlun, Balqa’ and Karak. On 11 April 1921 he formed his first government. The newly appointed central administration was mainly staffed by Arab nationalist exiles. The first government was composed of four Syrians, a Palestinian, a Hijazi and only one native Transjordanian. The British offered financial assistance, administrative guidance and military support from Palestine upon request and maintained a watchful position. The sole organised and effective military force at hand was a Hijazi household army of some 200 men under Hashemite command. Peake’s Reserve Force was still under construction and dysfunctional. (pg 40); From early 1922 until the autumn of 1923 the country enjoyed a period of stability during which the central administration succeeded in asserting its authority over the settled population. A change of personalities, resulting in more sympathetic British Representatives, Abdullah’s recognition of his precarious situation, and an improved attitude of the Palestine government towards the independent administration of the country, contributed to the stabilisation of Transjordan and the subjugation of the settled tribes to the government’s authority. More importantly, the resurrection of the Reserve Force, later renamed the Arab Legion, allowed for this success. (pg 49); Thus, in the summer of 1922, the government managed to gain the submission of the settled and semi-settled tribes. Peake and Philby reported on the satisfactory collection of taxes and good public order.45 Macan Abu Nowar asserts that, as early as August 1922, Abdullah could already point to several achievements in the process of state-building. His government maintained law and order, improved tax-collection, opened new schools and clinics, built roads, established telegraph and post office services and created sharci and civil courts. (pg 50) 
  62. ^ Gruber, Peter (1991). Historical Dictionary of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. pp. 45–46. Retrieved Feb 26, 2012. During World War I, Transjordan (as it was then called) was the scene of most of the fighting of the great Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule. Assisted by the British and the famous Lawrence of Arabia (T. E. Lawrence), Sharif Hussein of Mecca led this successful revolt, which contributed to the Ottoman defeat in World War I and to the eventual establishment of the various Arab states. Jordan originally fell under the rule of King Faisal, son of Sharif Hussein and the principal military leader of the Arab Revolt. Jordanians, along with their Arab brothers from other regions, served in the new Arab government and sat in its parliament. After King Faisal was forced from the throne in July 1920 by the French military, the British high commissioner of Palestine, Sir Herbert Samuel, went to the town of Salt in Transjordan and declared that the territory, as had been secretly agreed by the British and French in the Sykes-Picot Agreement during World War I, was part of the British Mandatory Palestine. Amir (Prince) Abdullah, a younger son of Sharif Hussein, arrived in Jordan in the fall of 1920 with the intent of regaining Damascus for his Hashemite family. Because he had gained a following, the British decided to recognize his leadership in that territory and provide him with a subsidy in exchange for his not pursuing his original Damascus intentions. This arrangement was confirmed in a March 27, 1921, meeting between then colonial secretary, Winston Churchill, and Amir Abdullah. In addition, Jordan was officially removed from Britain's Palestine mandate and given a mandate status of its own. Between the two world wars, Amir Abdullah, with considerable assistance from Britain, established Hashemite authority in Jordan, basing his rule in the new capital of Amman. 
  63. ^ The Colonial Service, Anton Bertram, 2011, p265
  64. ^ [Article 1, "His Highness the Amir agrees that His Britannic Majesty shall be represented in Trans-Jordan by a British Resident acting on behalf of the High Commissioner for Trans-Jordan." Agreement between his Britannic Majesty and His Highness the Amir of Trans-Jordan, February 1928]
  65. ^ See League of Nations, Official Journal, 1928, p. 1574
  66. ^ Marjorie M. Whiteman, Digest of International Law, vol. 1 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1963) page 631
  67. ^ Norman Bentwich, British Year Book of International Law, vol 10, 1928, p213, "An agreement was made in February 1928, between His Britannic Majesty and the Emir of Transjordan, varying in important respects the execution of the Mandate for Transjordan which was conferred with the Mandate for Palestine in 1922. There was, indeed, no separate Mandate for Transjordan; but by a resolution of the Council of the League of Nations, passed in September 1922, at the suggestion of the British Government, certain provisions of the Mandate for Palestine were, in accordance with Article 25 of that Mandate, declared not applicable in the territory lying east of the Jordan and the Dead Sea. It was further provided in the application of the Mandate to Transjordan that the action which in Palestine is taken by the Administration of Palestine will be taken by the Administration of Transjordan under the general supervision of the Mandatory. A declaration by the British Government was approved to the effect that His Majesty's Government accepts full responsibility as Mandatory for Transjordan, and undertakes that such provision as may be made for the administration of that territory shall be in no way inconsistent with those provisions of the Mandate which are not declared inapplicable by the resolution."
  68. ^ See 1919 Foreign Relations, vol. XIII, Paris Peace Conference (1947), p. 100. For a summary of the Agreement of 20 February 1928, between the United Kingdom and the Emir of Transjordan, see Bentwich, "The Mandate for Transjordan", X Brit. Yb. Int'l L. (1929) 212
  69. ^ a b Franco-British Convention on Certain Points Connected with the Mandates for Syria and the Lebanon, Palestine and Mesopotamia, signed 23 December 1920. Text available in American Journal of International Law, Vol. 16, No. 3, 1922, 122–126.
  70. ^ 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.
  71. ^ FSU Law.
  72. ^ – (The boundaries of modern Palestine, 1840–1947, Page 130)
  73. ^ (The boundaries of modern Palestine, 1840–1947, Page 145, 150)
  74. ^ Text in League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. 56, pp. 80–87.
  75. ^ International Boundary Study No. 46 – April 1, 1965, Israel – Egypt (United Arab Republic) Boundary (Country Codes: IS-EG), The Geographer Office of the Geographer Bureau of Intelligence and Research
  76. ^ King Abdullah, Britain and the Making of Jordan, Mary Christina Wilson, p100
  77. ^ The Middle East and North Africa, Clive H. Schofield, Richard N. Schofield, International Boundaries Research Unit
  78. ^ Iraq-Jordan, US Department of State, International Boundary Study series
  79. ^ The Kuwait Crisis: Basic Documents, By E. Lauterpacht, C. J. Greenwood, Marc Weller
  80. ^ The Palestine Order in Council, 10 August 1922, article 11
  81. ^ a b c d The basic equities of the Palestine problem, Simon Hirsch Rifkind
  82. ^ a b League of Nations, Official Journal, Nov 1923, p1355.
  83. ^ Minutes of Meeting of Council held at Geneva on September 29th, 1923.
  84. ^ "League of Nations Official Journal" 4. 1923. p. 1355. 
  85. ^ Excerpts from League of Nations Official Journal dated June 1922, pp. 546–549
  86. ^ United States Department of State / Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, 1924 Volume II (1924) – Palestine Mandate Convention between the United States of America and Great Britain Signed at London, 3 December 1924, pp 212–222.
  87. ^ Text of the agreement


See also

Year Date Mandate document Palestine Transjordan
1920 25 Apr Mandate assigned OETA South Kingdom of Syria / Kingdom of Hejaz
1 Jul High Commissioner of Palestine appointed
23 Jul Battle of Maysalun
10 Aug Treaty of Sèvres signed (never ratified)
20 Aug Herbert Samuel's proclamation at Salt
21 Nov Abdullah's army moves to Ma'an
23 Dec Franco-British Boundary Agreement
1921 12-30 Mar Cairo conference. Article 25 (Transjordan) drafted
1 Apr Emirate of Transjordan established
1922 24 Jul Mandate terms approved by League of Nations
10 Aug Palestine constitution (Order in Council)
16 Sep Transjordan memorandum accepted
23 Oct 1922 census of Palestine
1923 25 April Independence announcement
29 Sep Mandate comes into effect

Key Mandate dates from assignment to coming into effect

The United States was not a member of the League of Nations, and consequently was not required to officially state its position on the legality of the Palestinian Mandate. However, the US government accepted the de facto, if not de jure, status of the mandates and entered into individual treaties with the mandatory power to secure legal rights for its citizens and to protect property rights and business interests in the mandates. In the case of Palestine, on 3 December 1924, it entered into a bilateral treaty with Britain in the Palestine Mandate Convention, in which the United States "consents to the administration" (Article 1) and which dealt with eight issues of concern to the United States.[86][87]

United States acceptance

[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.[85]

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 –

Following the ratification of the Treaty of Lausanne on 28 September 1923,[3][4][81] the dispute between France and Italy was reported as settled.[82][83][84] The Council of the League of Nations determined that the two mandates had come into effect at its meeting of 29 September 1923.

The text of the Mandate for Palestine was approved by the Council of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922.[82] However, this would not come into effect until a treaty between the Turkish government and the Allies was ratified and a dispute between France and Italy over the Syria Mandate was settled. The latter requirement was due to the perceived need for the legal regime to begin at the same time as the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon

League of Nations approval

In November 1922, the Conference of Lausanne began, with the intention to negotiate a treaty to replace the failed Treaty of Sèvres. In the Treaty of Lausanne, signed on 24 July 1923 and ratified on 28 September 1923,[81] the Turkish government finally recognised the detachment of the regions south of the frontier agreed in the Treaty of Ankara (1921), thereby making a general renunciation of its sovereignty over Palestine.[81]

The decision taken by the Allied Supreme Council at the San Remo conference was documented in the Treaty of Sèvres, signed on behalf of the Ottoman Empire and Allies on 10 August 1920. However, the treaty was never ratified by the Ottoman government,[81] because it required the agreement of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Ataturk expressed disdain for the treaty, and continued the fight known as the Turkish War of Independence.

Ottoman / Turkish ratification

Approvals and Ratification

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.[80]

The August 1922 Palestine Order in Council provided that:

Administrative divisions in Palestine

The Eastern border between Transjordan and Iraq was not agreed until 1922, and not formally documented until 1932.[77][78][79]

Eastern borders

The Southern border between Transjordan and Arabia was left undefined whilst Abdullah's father remained in power in the Kingdom of Hejaz. However, following the 1924-25 Saudi conquest of Hejaz, the Hashemite army fled to the northern Ma'an province of Hejaz, which was then annexed by Transjordan. This was formalised by the 1925 Hadda agreement, with the resulting zig-zag border becoming known as Winston's Hiccup.[76]

The Southern border between Palestine and Egypt was left unchanged from the border established between Egypt and the Ottoman Empire in 1906.[75]

Southern borders

Following the settlement of the Northern border issue, the British and French governments signed on 2 February 1926 an Agreement of good neighbourly Relations between the mandated territories of Palestine, Syria and Lebanon.[74]

The Northern boundary between the British and French mandates was defined in broad terms by the Franco-British Boundary Agreement of December 1920.[69] 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.[69] 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.[70][71] 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.[72] The new border followed a 10-meter wide strip along the northeastern shore.[73]

Northern borders

Map showing boundaries (in red) of the proposed protectorate of Palestine, as suggested by the Zionist representatives at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, superimposed on modern boundaries.


The proviso to the objective of the mandate was that "nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish 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.

Article 14 of the Mandate required Britain to establish a commission to study, define, and determine the rights and claims relating to the different religious communities in Palestine. This provision, which called for the creation of a commission to review the religious status quo between the religious communities, was never created.

Religious and communal issues

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.

Transfer of most administrative functions occurred in 1928, including the creation of the post of High Commissioner for Transjordan.[64] The status of the mandate was not altered by the agreement between the United Kingdom and the Emirate concluded on 20 February 1928.[65][66] It recognised the existence of an independent government in Transjordan and defined and limited its powers. The ratifications were exchanged on 31 October 1929."[67][68]

It is not part of Palestine but it is part of the area administered by the British Government under the authority of the Palestine Mandate. The special arrangements there really go back to the old controversy about our war time pledges to the Arabs which I have no wish to revive. The point is that on our own interpretation of those pledges the country East of the Jordan - though not the country West of the Jordan - falls within the area in respect of which we promised during the war to recognise and support the independence of the Arabs. Transjordan is in a wholly different position from Palestine and it was considered necessary that special arrangements should be made there[63]

During the eleventh session of the League of Nations' Permanent Mandates Commission in 1927, Sir John Shuckburgh summarised the status of Transjordan:

Transfer of authority to an Arab government took place gradually in Transjordan, starting with Abdullah's appointment as Emir of Transjordan on 1 April 1921, and the formation of his first government on 11 April 1921.[60] The independent administration was recognised in a statement made in Amman on 25 April 1923: "Subject to the approval of the League of Nations, His Britannic Majesty will recognize the existence of an independent Government in Trans-jordan under the rule of His Highness the Amir Abdullah, provided that such Government is constitutional and places His Britannic Majesty in a position to fulfil his international obligations in respect of the territory by means of an Agreement to be concluded with His Highness"[61][62]

Governance of Transjordan

The British Foreign Office confirmed the position in 1946, in discussions over the independence of Transjordan, stating that "the clauses of the Palestine Mandate relating to the establishment of a Jewish national home were, with the approval of the League of Nations, never applied in Transjordan. His Majesty's Government have therefore never considered themselves under any obligation to apply them there".[59]

With the League of Nations' consent on 16 September 1922, the Mandate territory was formalised by the UK with the creation of two administrative areas, Palestine, under direct British rule, and autonomous Transjordan, under the rule of the Hashemite family from the Kingdom of Hejaz in present-day Saudi Arabia, in accordance with the McMahon Correspondence of 1915.[1] Following the 1922 Transjordan memorandum, the area east of the Jordan river became exempt from the Mandate provisions concerning the Jewish National Home.[1][2]

That agreement was formalised before the mandate officially went into effect. An article was included in the Mandate for Palestine which allowed the UK to postpone or withhold unspecified provisions from the lands which lay to the east of the Jordan River.[54] On 16 September 1922, the League of Nations approved a British memorandum detailing its intended implementation of that clause, namely to exclude Transjordan from the articles related to Jewish settlement.[57][58]

When the Inter-Allied Conference at San Remo adjourned in April 1920, the definition of Palestine had not been discussed. In a recent essay, Sanford Silverburg stated 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.[56]

On submission of the memorandum to the Council of the League of Nations, Balfour explained the background as recorded in the minutes: "Lord Balfour reminded his colleagues that Article 25 of the mandate for Palestine as approved by the Council in London on July 24th, 1922, provides that the territories in Palestine which lie east of the Jordan should be under a somewhat different regime from the rest of Palestine. ... The British Government now merely proposed to carry out this article. It had always been part of the policy contemplated by the League and accepted by the British Government, and the latter now desired to carry it into effect. In pursuance of the policy, embodied in Article 25, Lord Balfour invited the Council to pass a series of resolutions which modified the mandate as regards those territories. The object of these resolutions was to withdraw from Trans-Jordania the special provisions which were intended to provide a national home for the Jews west of the Jordan."[55]

"In the territories lying between the Jordan [river] and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions, and to make such provision for the administration of the territories as he may consider suitable to those conditions"[54]

The final text of the Mandate includes an Article 25 which states:

Article 25 of the mandate recognised the McMahon-Hussein correspondence.[53] 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.

Article 25 and Transjordan memorandum

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.[52]

The Cairo Conference of March 1921 was convened by Winston Churchill, then Britain's Colonial Secretary. 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. An additional 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). 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 Hussein ibn Ali of the Hedjaz, Churchill stated 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 as an Arab country apart from Palestine with the proviso that it would be, initially for six months, under the nominal rule of the Emir Abdullah and that it would not form part of the Jewish national home to be established west of the River Jordan.[48][49][50][51]

Distinction to be drawn between Palestine and Trans-Jordan under the Mandate. His Majesty's Government are responsible under the terms of the Mandate for establishing in Palestine a national home for the Jewish people. They are also pledged by the assurances given to the Sherif of Mecca in 1915 to recognise and support the independence of the Arabs in those portions of the (Turkish) vilayet of Damascus in which they are free to act without detriment to French interests. The western boundary of the Turkish vilayet of Damascus before the war was the River Jordan. Palestine and Trans-Jordan do not, therefore, stand upon quite the same footing. At the same time, the two areas are economically interdependent, and their development must be considered as a single problem. Further, His Majesty's Government have been entrusted with the Mandate for "Palestine." If they wish to assert their claim to Trans-Jordan and to avoid raising with other Powers the legal status of that area, they can only do so by proceeding upon the assumption that Trans-Jordan forms part of the area covered by the Palestine Mandate. In default of this assumption Trans-Jordan would be left, under article 132 of the Treaty of Sevres, to the disposal of the principal Allied Powers. Some means must be found of giving effect in Trans-Jordan to the terms of the Mandate consistently with "recognition and support of the independence of the Arabs".[47]

In early 1921, prior to the convening of the Cairo Conference, the Middle East Department of the Colonial Office set out the situation as follows:

Without authority from London, Samuel then visited Transjordan and at a meeting with 600 leaders in Lord Curzon, repudiated Samuel's action.[44] Two months later, on 21 November, Abdullah, the brother of recently deposed King Faisal, marched into Ma'an at the head of an army of 300 men.[45][46]

At the Curzon instructed Vansittart at the conference in Paris to leave the eastern boundary of Palestine undefined, stating "His Majesty's Government are already treating 'Trans-Jordania' as separate from the Damascus State, while at the same time avoiding any definite connection between it and Palestine, thus leaving the way open for the establishment there, should it become advisable, of some form of independent Arab government, perhaps by arrangement with King Hussein or other Arab chiefs concerned."[32] 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."[40] 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."[41] He subsequently announced that Transjordan was under British Mandate.[42]

The boundaries of the Palestine Mandate were not defined when it was awarded in April 1920 at the San Remo conference. In a telegram to the Foreign Office summarising the conclusions of the San Remo conference, the Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon, stated: "The boundaries will not be defined in Peace Treaty but are to be determined at a later date by principal Allied Powers". When Samuel set up the civil mandatory government in mid-1920 he was explicitly instructed by Curzon that his jurisdiction did not include Transjordan.[36] Following the French occupation in Damascus in July 1920, the French, acting in accordance with their wartime agreements with Britain refrained from extending their rule south into Transjordan. That autumn Emir Faisal's brother, Abdullah, led a band of armed men north from the Hedjaz into Transjordan and threatened to attack Syria and vindicate the Hashemites' right to overlordship there. In March 1921 the Colonial Secretary, Winston Churchill, convened the Cairo Conference which endorsed an arrangement whereby Transjordan would be added to the Palestine mandate, with Abdullah as the emir under the authority of the High Commissioner, and with the condition that the Jewish National Home provisions of the Palestine mandate would not apply there.[37] 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?".[35] British Foreign Minister Curzon ultimately decided that it did not and that Transjordan would remain independent, but in the closest relation with Palestine.[38]

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. The British were content with that arrangement because Faisal was a British ally and the region fell within the indirect sphere of British influence according to the Sykes-Picot agreement.[35] They favoured 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.

On 13 September 1919, a memorandum was handed from Dan to Beersheba".[34]

Under the terms of 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 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).[31] Following the final surrender of the Ottomans, the British withdrew their army from the region leaving it to be administered by Faisal as a province of Syria.[32]

Background and negotiations

Herbert Samuel's proclamation in Salt, August 1920, for which he was admonished by Curzon
Emir Faisal's delegation at Versailles, during the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Left to right: Rustum Haidar, Nuri as-Said, Prince Faisal, Captain Pisani (behind Faisal), T. E. Lawrence, Captain Hassan Khadri


The preamble of the Mandate document states that the Mandate is granted to Britain "for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations". That article, which concerns entrusting "tutelage" of colonies formerly under German and Turkish sovereignty to other, "advanced", nations", states with specific regard to "[c]ommunities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire" that they "have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognised subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone." Throughout the period of the Mandate, Palestinian leaders cited this as proving their assertion that the British were obliged under the terms of the Mandate to facilitate the eventual creation of an independent Arab state in Palestine.

Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations

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 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 formalised 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. The UK 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.[30]

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 grounds for reconstituting their National Home in that country ...[29]

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 not acknowledged a legal claim. Lord Balfour suggested an alternative which was accepted:

The British Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon, together with the Italian and French governments rejected early drafts of the mandate because they 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..."

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.[28]
The preamble of the mandate document declared:
"Zionist Rejoicings. British Mandate For Palestine Welcomed", The Times, Monday, Apr 26, 1920, following conclusion of the San Remo conference.

Establishment of a national home for the Jewish people

Each of the principal Allied powers had a hand in drafting the proposed mandate[27]—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 document was based on the principles contained in Article 22 of the draft Covenant of the League of Nations and the San Remo Resolution of 25 April 1920 by the principal Allied and associated powers after the First World War.[1] The mandate formalised British rule in the southern part of Ottoman Syria from 1923–1948.

The mandate was a legal and administrative instrument, not a geographical territory.[26] The territorial jurisdiction of the mandate was subject to change by treaty, capitulation, grant, usage, sufferance or other lawful means.

Legal basis and drafting of the mandate

The San Remo conference[25] assigned the mandate for Palestine to the United Kingdom under Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. The Allies also decided to make the UK responsible for putting into effect its own Balfour Declaration of 1917.

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,[19] 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 signed the Faisal–Weizmann Agreement.[24] The agreement was never implemented.

At the Paris Peace Conference, Prime Minister Lloyd George told Georges Clemenceau and the other allies that the McMahon-Hussein correspondence was 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.[23]

In a meeting at Vilayet of Mosul to the British in exchange for British support of French influence in Syria and Lebanon.[21][22]

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 McMahon–Hussein Correspondence, and the Churchill White Paper of 1922. At the San Remo conference, the boundaries of the mandated territories were not precisely defined.[19][20]

A confidential appendix to the report of the 1919 Protectorate of the Holy See).[18]


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