An Interim Report on the Civil Administration
of Palestine to the League of Nations, June 1921
- United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine
The swearing in of Herbert Samuel as first
High Commissioner for Palestine, 1920
This document, among other things shows
If the 14 million Jews at the time had been
allowed to settle in the Jewish National Homeland (Israel and Jordan) among
half a million Arabs as intended, Jews would have had a 90% majority in
the Jewish National Home and the history of the Holocaust would have been
The small number of people (700,000) in the
entire Palestine Mandate (what is now both Israel AND Jordan today)
The common usage of the word "Palestinian"
refers people who live in Palestine: Arabs (a "mixed race of Arabic
speaking peoples"), Bedouins, Christians and Jews.
The British had significant reluctance to
allow a Jewish majority in the region. This led in later years to
a policy of systematically reduced immigration quotas, and indirectly to
the death of millions of Jewish refugees in Europe twenty some years later.
Immigration and travel restrictions were almost
universally applied only to Jews, no restriction was placed on Arab immigration,
in spite of the fact "the success of these [Jewish] agricultural colonies
attracted the eager interest of the masses..."
Whenever there were Arab riots, Jewish immigration
was restricted. This was the beginning of the British Policy of Appeasement,
and the success of terrorism.
In 1939 The Permanent Mandates Commission
of the League of Nations protested the Britain's "White Paper" in August.
Four out of the seven members intended to strike down the restrictive White
Paper as a violation of the Mandate of Palestine. But WWII intervened in
the few days before the League was to review the matter. The meeting was
to have taken place on September 8; Germany marched on Poland September
1, and Britain declared war on Germany September 3.
Britain's role in bringing in illegal Arabs and keeping out Jews, trying
to create an artificial Arab majority in Palestine 1920-1948
P.S. While you read this, keep reminding
yourself that it is talking about the entire region that is both Israel
AND Jordan today, as the Jewish National Home. Jordan is more than two
times larger than Israel. The Yarmuk river is in Jordan.
AN INTERIM REPORT
during the period
1st JULY, 1920--30th JUNE,
AN INTERIM REPORT
I.--THE CONDITION OF PALESTINE AFTER THE
When General Allenby's army swept over Palestine,
in a campaign as brilliant and decisive as any recorded in history, it
occupied a country exhausted by war. The population had been depleted;
the people of the towns were in severe distress; much cultivated land was
left untilled; the stocks of cattle and horses had fallen to a low ebb;
the woodlands, always scanty, had almost disappeared; orange groves had
been ruined by lack of irrigation; commerce had long been at a standstill.
A Military Administration was established to govern the country. For nearly
two years it laboured, with great devotion, at its restoration. An administrative
system, as efficient as the conditions allowed, was set up. The revenue
authorised by the Turkish law was collected, and was spent on the needs
of the country. A considerable sum, advanced by the Anglo-Egyptian Bank,
was lent by the Government in small amounts to the agriculturists, and
enabled them to purchase stock and seed, and partly to restore their cultivation.
Philanthropic agencies in other countries came to the relief of the most
necessitous. Commerce began to revive. It was encouraged by the new railway
connection with Egypt, established during the campaign for purposes of
military transport. It was assisted also by the construction, with the
same object, of a net-work of good roads. The country showed all the signs
of gradually returning life.
But the prospects of Palestine are not limited,
on the economic side, merely to a return to the standard attained before
the war. It has the possibilities of a far more prosperous future. Small
in area--comparable in size to Belgium or Wales--its geographical position
rendered it in ancient times, and may render it again, a centre of no small
importance to the commercial traffic of the larger territories that surround
it. Within the limits of a province, it offers the varieties of soil and
climate of a continent. It is a country of mountain and plain, of desert
and pleasant valleys, of lake and sea-board, of barren hills, desolate
to the last degree of desolation, and of broad stretches of deep, fruitful
soil. The rainfall of Jerusalem equals that of London. The water problem,
over most of the country, is not a question of quantity, but of storage,
of pumping and of distribution.
It is obvious to every passing traveller, and
well-known to every European resident, that the country was before the
War, and is now, undeveloped and under-populated. The methods of agriculture
are, for the most part, primitive; the area of land now cultivated could
yield a far greater product. There are in addition large cultivable areas
that are left untilled. The summits and slopes of the hills are admirably
suited to the growth of trees, but there are no forests. Miles of sand
dunes that could be redeemed, are untouched, a danger, by their encroachment,
to the neighbouring tillage. The Jordan and the Yarmuk offer an abundance
of water-power; but it is unused. Some industries--fishing and the culture
and manufacture of tobacco are examples--have been killed by Turkish laws;
none have been encouraged; the markets of Palestine and of the neighbouring
countries are supplied almost wholly from Europe. The seaborne commerce,
such as it is, is loaded and discharged in the open roadsteads of Jaffa
and Haifa: there are no harbours. The religious and historical associations
that offer most powerful attractions to the whole of the Western, and to
a large part of the Eastern world, have hitherto brought to Palestine but
a fraction of the pilgrims and travellers, who, under better conditions,
would flock to her sacred shrines and famous sites.
The country is under-populated because of this
lack of development. There are now in the whole of Palestine hardly 700,000
people, a population much less than that of the province of Gallilee alone
in the time of Christ.* (*See Sir George Adam Smith "Historical
Geography of the Holy Land", Chap. 20.) Of these 235,000 live in the larger
towns, 465,000 in the smaller towns and villages. Four-fifths of the whole
population are Moslems. A small proportion of these are Bedouin Arabs;
the remainder, although they speak Arabic and are termed Arabs, are largely
of mixed race. Some 77,000 of the population are Christians, in large majority
belonging to the Orthodox Church, and speaking Arabic. The minority are
members of the Latin or of the Uniate Greek Catholic Church, or--a small
The Jewish element of the population numbers
76,000. Almost all have entered Palestine during the last 40 years. Prior
to 1850 there were in the country only a handful of Jews. In the following
30 years a few hundreds came to Palestine. Most of them were animated by
religious motives; they came to pray and to die in the Holy Land, and to
be buried in its soil. After the persecutions in Russia forty years ago,
the movement of the Jews to Palestine assumed larger proportions. Jewish
agricultural colonies were founded. They developed the culture of oranges
and gave importance to the Jaffa orange trade. They cultivated the vine,
and manufactured and exported wine. They drained swamps. They planted eucalyptus
trees. They practised, with modern methods, all the processes of agriculture.
There are at the present time 64 of these settlements, large and small,
with a population of some 15,000. Every traveller in Palestine who visits
them is impressed by the contrast between these pleasant villages, with
the beautiful stretches of prosperous cultivation about them and the primitive
conditions of life and work by which they are surrounded.
The success of these agricultural colonies
attracted the eager interest of the masses of the Jewish people scattered
throughout the world. In many countries they were living under the pressure
of laws or customs which cramped their capacities and thwarted their energies;
they saw in Palestine the prospect of a home in which they might live at
ease. Profoundly discontented, as numbers of them were, with a life of
petty trade in crowded cities, they listened with ready ears to the call
of a healthier and finer life as producers on the land. Some among them,
agriculturists already, saw in Palestine the prospect of a soil not less
fertile, and an environment far more free, than those to which they were
accustomed. Everywhere great numbers of Jews, whose religion causes them
to live, spiritually, largely in the past, began to take an active interest
in those passages of their ritual, that dwelt, with constant emphasis,
upon the connection of their race with Palestine; passages which they had
hitherto read day by day and week by week, with the lax attention that
is given to contingency that is possible but remote. Among a great proportion,
at least, of the fourteen millions of Jews, who are dispersed in all the
countries of the globe, the Zionist idea took hold. They found in it that
larger and higher interest, outside and beyond the cares and concerns of
daily life, which every man, who is not wholly materialist, must seek somewhere.
Societies were formed which purchased areas
of land in Palestine for further Jewish colonization. The Hebrew language,
which, except for purposes of ritual, had been dead for many centuries,
was revived as a vernacular. A new vocabulary, to meet the needs of modern
life, was welded into it. Hebrew is now the language spoken by almost all
the younger generation of the Jews of Palestine and by a large proportion
of their elders. The Jewish newspapers are published in it. It is the language
of instruction in the schools and colleges, the language used for sermons
in the synagogues, for political speeches and for scientific lectures.
Large sums of money were collected in Europe
and America, and spent in Palestine, for forwarding the movement. Many
looked forward to a steady process of Jewish immigration, of Jewish land
colonization and industrial development, until at last the Jews throughout
the world would be able to see one country in which their race had a political
and a spiritual home, in which, perhaps, the Jewish genius might repeat
the services it had rendered to mankind from the same soil long ago.
The British Government was impressed by the
reality, the strength and the idealism of this movement. It recognised
its value in ensuring the future development of Palestine, which now appears
likely to come within the British sphere of influence. It decided to give
to the Zionist idea, within certain limits, its approval and support. By
the hand of Mr. Balfour, then Foreign Secretary, it made, in November,
1917, the following Declaration:
"His Majesty's Government view with favour
the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish People,
and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this
object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may
prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish Communities
in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any
This pronouncement was received with the warmest
gratitude and enthusiasm by the mass of the Jewish people throughout the
world. After the occupation of Palestine, a Zionist Commission was sent
there, with the approval of the Government, to concert measures for carrying
into effect the policy of the Declaration.
Meanwhile, however, a section of native opinion
in Palestine was becoming disturbed as to the meaning of British policy.
Welcoming release from Turkish misgovernment, anxious to accept the benefit
of British assistance in securing an efficient administration, it was uneasy
as to the implications of the Balfour Declaration. To instal the Jews in
Palestine might mean the expulsion of the Arabs. If there were an unlimited
Jewish immigration and finally a Jewish majority in the population, how
could the safeguards embodied in the second half of the Declaration be
enforced? The ownership by the Arabs of their lands and homes would be
imperilled. The Moslem Holy Places, and particularly the Haram-esh-Sherif
on Mount Moriah, might be taken from them. Quotations from the speeches
and writings of Zionist leaders, which were said to justify these forebodings,
were translated into Arabic and circulated by the press among the people.
An organization was formed, with branches in many parts of the country,
to combat the application of the Zionist policy. Individuals or groups,
in Palestine or elsewhere, who had some interest in causing embarrassment
to the Administration, stimulated the agitation. The wildest stories as
to the intentions of the Jews and the fate awaiting the Arabs were circulated
in the towns and villages, and were often believed by a credulous people.
Among a section of the Arabs, who had all previously lived on excellent
terms with the Jewish population, a bitter feeling was evoked against the
Jews. It was fostered and developed until it culminated in a serious outbreak
in the streets of Jerusalem in April, 1920, when a number of Jews were
killed and wounded and Jewish shops were looted.
Many men of education and enlightenment among
the Arabs took no part, however, in this antagonism. They recognised that
the fears that had been expressed were illusory. They realised that Jewish
co-operation was the best means, perhaps the only means, of promoting the
prosperity of Palestine, a prosperity from which the Arabs could not fail
to benefit. They desired the maintenance of peace and order, and they had
confidence that the British Government would permit no injustice, even
if injustice were intended. And among the mass of the population there
were large numbers who, taking no interest in politics, thinking only of
the needs of daily life, made no response to the agitation that sought
to arouse their fears and inflame their passions.
Such was the economic condition of the country,
and such was the political atmosphere, when on July 1st, 1920, by order
of His Majesty's Government a Civil Administration was established in Palestine.
II.--POLICY OF THE ADMINISTRATION.
In a later section of this Report I will furnish
a summary of the specific measures that have been adopted in the various
Departments of Government. It will be convenient first to continue and
complete this survey of the general political situation.
Zionism takes many forms, and its individual
adherents, like the adherents of any other political creed, hold various
views as to its proper aims. There are those among them who sometimes forget
or ignore the present inhabitants of Palestine. Inspired by the greatness
of their ideal, feeling behind them the pressure of two thousand years
of Jewish history, intent upon the practical measures that are requisite
to carry their purpose into effect, they learn with surprise, and often
with incredulity, that there are half-a-million people in Palestine, many
of whom hold, and hold strongly, very different views. Some among this
school of Zionists, when they realise that there is opposition, would wish
to ride over it rough-shod, and are ready to condemn any other policy as
a surrender by weakness to violence. At the other end of the scale there
are Zionists who believe that the establishment of a further number of
Jewish agricultural colonies, with some industrial enterprises, and perhaps
a University, is all that can, or should, be done. Between these two views
there is every gradation.
The policy of His Majesty's Government contemplates
the satisfaction of the legitimate aspirations of the Jewish race throughout
the world in relation to Palestine, combined with a full protection of
the rights of the existing population. For my own part, I am convinced
that the means can be found to effect this combination. The Zionism that
is practicable is the Zionism that fulfils this essential condition.
It is the clear duty of the Mandatory Power
to promote the well-being of the Arab population, in the same way as a
British Administration would regard it as its duty to promote the welfare
of the local population in any part of our Empire. The measures to foster
the well-being of the Arabs should be precisely those which we should adopt
in Palestine if there were no Zionist question and if there had been no
Balfour Declaration. There is in this policy nothing incompatible with
reasonable Zionist aspirations. On the contrary, if the growth of Jewish
influence were accompanied by Arab degradation, or even by a neglect to
promote Arab advancement, it would fail in one of its essential purposes.
The grievance of the Arab would be a discredit to the Jew, and in the result
the moral influence of Zionism would be gravely impaired.
Simultaneously, there must be satisfaction
of that sentiment regarding Palestine--a worthy and ennobling sentiment--which,
in increasing degree, animates the Jewries of the world. The aspirations
of these fourteen millions of people also have a right to be considered.
They ask for the opportunity to establish a "home" in the land which was
the political, and has always been the religious, centre of their race.
They ask that this home should possess national characteristics--in language
and customs, in intellectual interests, in religious and political institutions.
This is not to say that Jewish immigration
is to involve Arab emigration, that the greater prosperity of the country,
through the development of Jewish enterprises, is to be at the expense,
and not to the benefit of the Arabs, that the use of Hebrew is to imply
the disappearance of Arabic, that the establishment of elected Councils
in the Jewish Community for the control of its affairs is to be followed
by the subjection of the Arabs to the rule of those Councils. In a word,
the degree to which Jewish national aspirations can be fulfilled in Palestine
is conditioned by the rights of the present inhabitants.
These have been the principles which have guided
the policy of the Administration. The year under review has not been, however,
a period favourable to their application. The long delay in the formal
settlement of the international status of Palestine has tended to disturb
the minds of the people. Even more serious has been the consequence that
it has not been possible to issue a Government loan. Without a loan, many
public works that would be directly or indirectly remunerative, cannot
be executed. The financial conditions of Eastern and Central Europe, and
internal difficulties within the Zionist Organisation in the United States,
have prevented the Zionist Movement from providing as yet any large sums
for enterprises of development or colonization--although, indeed, several
land purchases have been completed and many preparations made for the future.
As a consequence, while there has been much pressure to admit Jewish immigrants
there has been comparatively little expansion in the opportunities for
employment. Between September, 1920, and May, 1921, about 10,000 immigrants
In conformity with one of the articles in the
draft Mandate for Palestine, the Hebrew language has been recognized, with
English and Arabic, as one of the official languages of the country. It
is employed in all the notices and publications of the Central Government,
and for local purposes in those districts where the Jews form a considerable
element in the population.
The agitation, to which reference has been
made, against what was thought to be the policy to be adopted in relation
to the Jews, was revived during last winter and spring. In the atmosphere
that prevailed an outbreak might take place at any time. On May 1st there
was a riot at Jaffa. Disturbances continued during the following days.
Attacks were made from Arab villages upon the Jewish colonies of Petah
Tikvah and Chederah. Troops were employed and suppressed the disturbances,
and the attacks on the colonies were dispersed with considerable loss to
the attackers. Martial law was proclaimed over the area affected, but much
excitement prevailed for several days in Jaffa and the neighbouring districts,
and for some weeks there was considerable unrest. 88 persons were killed
and 238 injured, most of them slightly, in these disturbances, and there
was much looting and destruction of property. There were no casualties
among the troops. A number of persons were prosecuted for offences committed,
and special Civil and Military Courts were established for their trial.
The sentences inflicted included one of 13 years penal servitude, two of
10 years, one of 5 years, and 42 of less severity.
A Commission of Enquiry was appointed, under
the Chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Palestine, Sir Thomas Haycraft,
to investigate the causes of the riots and the circumstances that attended
them. The Commission has taken much evidence and has completed its inquiry,
but it has not yet presented its report at the time this is written. I
refrain, therefore, from further description of the Jaffa disturbances,
or from comment upon these unhappy events.
At an assembly of Notables held in Jerusalem
on June 3rd, on the occasion of His Majesty's Birthday, I made a statement
of the policy of the Government in relation to the Jewish National Home,
following the lines indicated in the preceding paragraphs.
A delegation of eight members, appointed by
a Conference representing a considerable body of Moslem and Christian opinion,
has proceeded to England in the month of July to lay their views upon the
political situation before the authorities.
III.--FORM OF GOVERNMENT.
The administration of the country, entrusted
to the High Commissioner, is conducted through a staff, the heads of which,
both in the central Departments and in the Districts, are British. A new
framework of government has had to be constructed; it has been found necessary
in certain cases to introduce new laws and regulations; experienced administrators,
familiar with Western methods and impartial in local disputes, have been
indispensable. But as the preliminary work is completed, and as Palestinians
possessing the necessary qualities can be chosen and trained to administrative
work, it is intended to reduce the number of British and to increase the
number of Palestinian officials. This process has, indeed, already begun.
In October, 1920, an Advisory Council was constituted.
It consists of ten unofficial members nominated by the High Commissioner,
of whom four are Moslems, three Christians, and three Jews; and of ten
members of the Administration. It meets every month, usually on two consecutive
days. Its functions are consultative, but no case has yet arisen in which
the Government has been unable to accept the opinion of the majority of
the unofficial members. The proceedings are published in the Press.
A list of the Ordinances passed by the Council
is given in Appendix I. It is the policy of the Administration to continue,
whenever possible, to apply the Turkish Laws, to which the people are accustomed.
Changes are made only where they are indispensable. Efficiency is essential
to good government, but there is a point where efficiency may become harassing.
The danger of passing that point is foreseen. Ne pas trop gouverner
is a good maxim, particularly in an Eastern
country, and above all in the early years of a new régime.
It was stated at the inauguration of the Advisory
Council that its establishment was no more than a first step in the development
of self-governing institutions. The success that has attended its work
justifies an early extension. On June 3rd it was announced that His Majesty's
Government were giving the closest attention to the question of ensuring
in Palestine a free and authoritative expression of popular opinion. Steps
are now being taken to frame a constitution for the country, which will
include an elective element, and the leaders of the various sections of
the population are being consulted as to its terms.
The cost of the Civil Administration of Palestine
has been kept within the amount of the local revenue, and no grant-in-aid
is received from the British Exchequer. Several taxes, oppressive in their
incidence and small in their yield, have been abolished. The Military Administration
repealed the Military Exoneration Tax, the Road Tax, the Temettu (a tax
upon all professions, arts and crafts) and certain minor fees. The Civil
Administration has abolished the Fish Tax of 20 per cent.
and the local Octroi duties. It has reduced the import duties on building
materials and on live stock from 11 per cent. to 3 per cent. In substitution
for the octroi, an additional import duty is levied of 1 per cent. on most
articles, and of 2 per cent. on some. A more important reform has been
the abolition of the tobacco monopoly established by the Turks and conducted
by the Tobacco Regie. The effect has been that the price of tobacco to
the consumer has greatly fallen; that the cultivation of tobacco, hitherto
prohibited, is about to be begun in several districts; that two factories
for the manufacture of cigarettes have already been opened, employing a
considerable number of workpeople, and others are in prospect; while, at
the same time, the Government is drawing a large new Customs revenue from
the importation of tobacco.
The railways of Palestine were taken over from
the Military Authorities in October, 1920, and their revenue and expenditure
included in those of the Government. The revenue of the Ottoman Public
Debt Administration in Palestine was amalgamated with the general revenue
of Palestine as from April 1st, 1921. On the other side of the account,
Palestine will be charged, under the provisions of the Treaty of Sèvres,
with an annuity in respect of her share of the Ottoman Pre-War Debt. The
amount of that share has not yet been definitely fixed, but it is estimated
to be less than £E200,000.
The principal heads of Revenue and Expenditure
for the year 1921-22, as presented to the Advisory Council in March last,
are given in Appendix III.
V.--DEFENCE AND PUBLIC SECURITY.
The Defence of Palestine is assured by a garrison
maintained by the Mandatory Power. The numbers of the garrison have now
been reduced to 5,000 combatant troops. The charge thereby imposed upon
the British Exchequer is £2,500,000 a year. It therefore appears
that the cost of a British garrison with its complement of ancillary troops,
officers, artillery, horses and mules, is now at the rate of £1,000
a year for every two fighting men, or a million pounds for every two thousand
The Palestine Administration maintains a Police
Force with a strength of 1,300 drawn from all sections of the local population.
The force is not yet at a satisfactory standard of efficiency, but a training
school has been established, and is already achieving good results, and
every effort is being made to raise the standard of the force. In addition
a new Gendarmerie of 500 men, 300 mounted, of whom 50 on camels, and 200
unmounted, is being organised. This force, while it will form a part of
the Palestine Police, will not be employed on ordinary police duties. It
will be highly trained under British Officers, will receive better pay
than the ordinary police, and will be employed, in bodies of not less than
twenty-five men, in the protection of the frontiers against raids from
neighbouring territories and in suppressing any internal disturbances that
A great number of blood feuds among the Bedouins
of Palestine have been settled by the intervention of the District Officials.
In the Beersheba district alone 134 have been dealt with. The peace and
order of the country have thereby been improved.
The most complete liberty of religion prevails
in Palestine. The many faiths and sects which find in the Holy Land their
origin or their inspiration, are free to maintain their teachers and pastors,
and to practise their cults, without let or hindrance. In the controversies
that occasionally arise between them, the policy of the Administration
has been strictly to maintain the status quo. The Treaty of Sèvres
provides for the appointment of a Commission on the Holy Places, on which
representatives of the principal faiths will find a place. For the decision
of that Commission, the settlement of such controversies is reserved.
In certain matters of internal organization,
however, action has been taken to assist the communities. A purely Moslem
authority is being constituted for the control of the Moslem religious
endowments (Wakfs), and for the appointment of judges in the Moslem religious
courts. To this authority the Government will transfer the revenues of
certain wealthy endowments, which were sequestrated by the Turkish Government
eighty years ago.
The Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has
been in recent years the theatre of bitter internal disputes, and the victim
of serious financial embarrassments. The intervention of the Government,
following upon a laborious enquiry by commission has ended the disputes
and has vindicated the authority of the Patriarch. A Financial Commission
is being established, with the sanction of the Patriarch and Synod, to
put order into their affairs.
The Jewish Community of Palestine possessed
no recognised ecclesiastical organization. On the invitation of the Government,
that Community has now established an elective Rabbinical Council, embodying
a lay element, under presidency of two joint Chief Rabbis.
A judicial system has been established by the
Military, and developed by the Civil Administration, which dispenses justice
with a degree of integrity, impartiality and promptitude hitherto unknown
in Palestine. Minor jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases is exercised
by Palestinian magistrates. Four District Courts presided over by British
judges, who sit with two Palestinian members, try the more serious civil
and criminal cases, and hear appeals from the magistrates' judgments. There
is a Court of Appeal at Jerusalem with a British Chief Justice and a British
Vice-President, which is the Supreme Court and hears appeals from the District
In cases in which a British or foreign subject
is tried for a criminal offence, the Court is constituted with a British
magistrate or with a majority of British judges. The prosecution of offences
is under the control of a British official, and is carried out in the District
Courts by a Palestinian Public Prosecutor. In the three principal towns,
benches of honorary magistrates are being constituted from the notables
of the locality for the trial of contraventions.
The Ottoman Law remains as the foundation of
the legal system, with such amendments, principally affecting a simplification
of the procedure, as have been introduced by Ordinances and Rules of Court
issued by the Administration. In the Beersheba District, Tribal Law continues
to be administered among the Bedouins by the Sheikhs' Court, from which
an appeal lies to a British officer.
The antiquities of Palestine are of profound
interest to Biblical students and to archaeologists throughout the world.
The Administration regards itself as a trustee on their behalf. To encourage
excavation and discovery, to prevent the injury or destruction of antiquities
and to form national collections of objects that will be of value to the
student and of interest to the local inhabitant and to the traveller, these
are the purposes which the Administration regards as among its most important
Immediately upon its inception, a Department
of Antiquities was formed. It was placed under the scholarly and capable
direction of Professor J. Garstang, D.Sc., who also holds the posts of
Professor of Archaeology in the University of Liverpool, and of Director
of the newly founded British School of Archæology in Jerusalem. Palestine
is fortunate in being a field of investigation by several archæological
bodies established in Jerusalem-- French, American, British, Italian and
Greek, as well as Jewish. The representatives of these bodies have been
constituted into an Advisory Board, under the presidency of the Director
of Antiquities, to which all matters of importance, and particularly applications
for permits to excavate, are referred. The existence and authority of this
Board are a recognition of the international interest of archaeological
work in Palestine.
An Ordinance has been passed, of a comprehensive
character, to protect the antiquities. Permits to excavate sites of interest
have been given to several competent authorities--the Palestine Exploration
Fund, the École Archéologique Française de Jérusalem,
the Jewish Archæological Society of Palestine, the Custodia della
Terra Santa and the University of Philadelphia. A number of buildings and
objects of interest have already been brought to light. A Palestine National
Museum has been established and 6,000 exhibits have been collected and
catalogued. A list of the historical sites in Palestine is in active preparation
and partly completed, and a register of every object of antiquarian interest
known to exist in the country is in process of formation.
A voluntary organisation, the Pro-Jerusalem
Society, has undertaken the care of the town walls and the ancient buildings
of a municipal character in Jerusalem, in addition to much excellent work
of other kinds for the improvement of the amenities of the city. The Government
gives to the Society a grant in respect of this service, together with
a subvention, adding pound for pound to the funds it is able to collect
from private sources.
Railways.--All the railways of Palestine
have been brought under the control of the Government. In addition, the
Palestine Railway Department operates, on behalf of the Army, the Sinai
Military Railway between Kantara, on the Suez Canal, and Rafah, on the
Egyptian- Palestine frontier. The total length of the entire system is
approximately 1,000 kilometres.
Within the limits of the funds available many
improvements have been effected during the last twelve months. The main
line between Rafah and Haifa, hastily constructed during the campaign,
has been strengthened and protected. As a result, the interruptions which
were frequent during the rainy season of 1919-20 were absent last winter.
The line from Jaffa to Ludd Junction was of narrow gauge, involving the
transhipment of all goods carried by railway between the port of Jaffa
and other parts of Palestine and Egypt. This railway has now been broadened.
Three small branch lines are in course of construction. Stations
have been improved and new stations opened.
Sleeping cars and dining cars are run on a number of the trains. It has
been necessary to raise passenger fares, and with this addition to their
income the railways pay their way.
Commerce and Industry.--A Department
of Commerce and Industry has been created, which keeps in close touch with
the trading classes and uses its best endeavours to promote the
economic development of the country. Chambers
of Commerce have been formed in all the principal towns of Palestine and
have a total membership of nearly a thousand. Conferences of delegates
from these Chambers are held quarterly, under the presidency of the High
Commissioner, and with the presence of the heads of the Government Departments
concerned. At these conferences a great variety of questions of interest
There has been a general fall in the prices
of commodities, in sympathy with the world movement, but they still remain
high in comparison with prices in Egypt and elsewhere.
A table (Appendix IV) shows the value of imports
and exports month by month from April 1st, 1919, to June 30th, 1921.
Except that the export of livestock is still
prohibited, and except for the usual police regulations dealing with the
importation of arms and deleterious drugs, etc., all restrictions upon
the import and export trade of Palestine have now been abolished.
Several new industrial enterprises are being
established. A revival of house- building is beginning in various parts
of the country. Should no unfavourable conditions supervene, there is a
prospect of a considerable development of trade in the near future.
The grant of mining concessions and of prospectors'
licences is still prohibited by instruction of His Majesty's Government.
Egyptian currency has been made the only legal
tender in Palestine, together with the British gold sovereign, at the rate
of 97.5 Egyptian piastres to the pound. Other currencies, however, are
not prohibited from circulating at whatever price they may
obtain in the market. It had been found necessary
to forbid the export of gold by an Order made by the Military Administration.
This prohibition has been rescinded, with some advantage to trade and with
no counterbalancing disadvantages.
Agriculture.--A Department was formed
in the last months of the Military Administration for the assistance of
agriculture, which is, and must long remain, the principal industry of
Palestine. The Department has shown much activity. A small technical staff
has been engaged. Agricultural assistants have been posted in all districts
and instructed to tour the villages continually. Plant diseases and insect
pests are notified immediately and steps taken to prevent their spread.
Complete preparations have been made to combat a plague of locusts, should
A field staff of veterinary surgeons reports
and deals at once with contagious livestock disease. Animals imported from
abroad are subjected to quarantine. Veterinary hospitals have been established.
A Fisheries Service has been established to
deal with scientific investigations and practical measures for improvement
of the fishing industry.
The Agricultural Department has established
five meteorological stations in conjunction with the Physical Department
of the Egyptian Government.
An Ordinance has been enacted for the protection
of forests. Forest areas are being demarcated and a staff of forest rangers
and guards has been appointed. The destructive felling of the few remaining
trees in the country has been stopped; forest nurseries have been established,
and some hundreds of thousands of trees have been planted by the Government
or by private landowners. Such are the first beginnings of a process which
should add largely to the productiveness of Palestine, increase its rainfall
and bring fresh charm to its scenery.
Agricultural shows, the first ever held in
the country, were organised at Haifa, Jaffa and Nablus. They attracted
much interest and are likely to prove a useful stimulus to the industry.
A museum to illustrate all matters of agricultural interest has been created.
The measures that have been taken, and particularly
the provision of £E.370,000 in loans to agriculturists, have assisted
the revival of the country. Large additional areas have been cultivated
this year and the head of stock show a remarkable recuperation. The good
prices obtained for oranges have been a great encouragement to the cultivators.
The agricultural development of the country--and
indeed its urban development also--are greatly hampered by the condition
of confusion into which the titles of ownership of land were allowed to
fall during the Turkish régime. There is here a tangle which will
need years of patient effort to unravel. Land Settlement Courts have been
established and are now commencing their work. A Survey Department has
been created; assistant surveyors are being trained; preliminary measures
are being taken for carrying out a cadastral survey of the whole country.
A Land Ordinance has been enacted, which includes provisions designed to
prevent land being purchased by speculators and held back from productive
use. The Ordinance includes important clauses also for the protection of
existing tenants when areas of land are sold for colonisation. The Administration
seeks to promote the closer settlement of the country, but at the same
time to secure the present cultivators from the danger of eviction and
loss of livelihood.
A Land Commission, consisting of a British
official and representatives of the Moslem and the Jewish communities,
examines, with these objects in view, all proposals dealing with the use
of State lands or the colonisation of private lands.
The Land Registries, which had been closed
during the Military Administration, were re-opened in October for transactions.
The figures of transactions registered during the nine months show a total
of over 2,000. The number and value of land transactions show a steady
increase in recent months.
Education.--There is evidence throughout
Palestine of an active desire for opportunities for education. The majority
of the Moslems are illiterate, and to provide a number of schools sufficient
for their requirements is a task of some magnitude. The Administration
has adopted a scheme under which the people of any town or village where
a school is needed, are invited to provide a suitable building and to keep
it in repair; the Government defrays, out of general taxation, the salaries
of the teachers and the other costs of maintenance. Under this scheme new
schools are being opened at an average rate of more than one a week. It
is intended to continue this process until the whole country is covered.
A period of four years will probably be necessary.
To assist in the staffing of these schools,
the two Government Training Colleges, one for men and one for women, have
been considerably enlarged, and give instruction to 75 and 40 students
Peripatetic teachers, paid by the Government,
have been appointed to work among the Bedouin tribes of the Beersheba District.
In addition to their duties as schoolmasters, they instruct the adults
of the tribes in Moslem religious law.
Fortunately a number of voluntary schools,
maintained for the most part by organisations outside Palestine, assist
in providing for the needs of the population. A system of State grants
to these schools, accompanied by Government inspection, has been inaugurated.
The financial position only permits, however, the distribution of a very
Law classes have been established in Jerusalem,
which will enable young Palestinians to qualify as advocates in the local
courts. A number of junior officials in the Government Service also join
in the attendance at these classes, which comprise about 140 students.
The instruction is given by the principal officials of the Legal Department.
Public Health.--Both the Military and
the Civil Administrations have paid the closest attention to measures for
safeguarding the health of the population. The Department of Public Health
has a fully organised central and local establishment. The sanitation of
the towns is efficiently supervised. A quarantine service is maintained.
Before the British occupation there were no Government hospitals or dispensaries
for the civilian population; at the present time the Government maintains
15 hospitals, 21 dispensaries, 8 clinics and 5 epidemic posts. In addition,
a great deal of hospital work and some sanitary work is admirably carried
out in Jerusalem and certain other towns by Zionist or by religious organisations.
Progress is being made in combating the two
maladies that are most prevalent in Palestine--malaria and eye-disease.
An expert Commission is engaged in elaborating definite plans for the drainage
of swamps, and for other measures for the extirpation of malaria. The oiling,
and in some cases the closing, of wells and cisterns is being constantly
effected in the towns and villages; a total of over 50,000 have been registered
and are regularly being dealt with. Villages suffering from malaria are
visited fortnightly by Anti-malarial Sub-Inspectors and free quinine is
provided. During the autumn of 1920 six to seven thousand villagers were
so treated every month.
The schools are medically inspected. Special
measures are taken for the treatment of trachoma, by which no fewer than
60% to 95%, according to locality, of the school children of Palestine
are affected. A Travelling Ophthalmic Hospital treats numbers of sufferers
from eve-diseases, both adults and children. With the exception of these
maladies, the health of Palestine has been remarkably good and epidemic
diseases have been kept well under control.
Public Works.--It is in the Department
of Public Works that lack of capital sums available for expenditure has
been chiefly felt. Certain main roads have been reconstructed or are now
in process of reconstruction. A number of Government buildings have been
put into good repair. The jetty at Haifa, which serves for the loading
and unloading of goods in the absence of a harbour, has been considerably
extended. A few minor works have been carried out. For the rest, the many
improvements which the country needs, and which would tend to increase
its prosperity and its revenue, have had to be postponed until the Mandate
is promulgated and a loan can be issued. Meantime the organisation of the
Department of Public Works is being placed on a satisfactory footing, to
be in readiness for any larger tasks which the future may bring.
The Stores Department has been reorganised
in an efficient manner.
Post Office.--The Post Office, which
also administers the telegraphs and telephones, shows a steady increase
in efficiency Several new post offices have been opened; the postal service
has been improved; a number of the more important telegraph and telephone
routes have been rebuilt or strengthened; a telephone system is in its
infancy, but already has 700 subscribers and 22 public call offices. The
finances of the Post Office show a small
Immigration and Travel.--Since the ports
of Palestine were opened to immigration, with certain restrictions, in
August, 1920, slightly over 10,000 immigrants have arrived in the country.
These were almost all Jewish; only 315 non-Jewish immigrants were registered.
Of the Jews, 8084 came under the auspices of the Zionist Organisation and
1815 came independently.
During the disturbances in Jaffa and the neighbourhood
early in May this year, all immigration was suspended for the time being.
But in any event it was becoming increasingly evident that the flow of
immigrants was greater than the country was able to absorb. The postponement
of works of development, due to the causes specified earlier in this Report,
restricted the openings for employment far more narrowly than had been
anticipated. New regulations were consequently drawn up.
To obtain a visa to enter Palestine a person
must now be able to show that he belongs to one or other of the following
(1) Persons of independent means who intend
to take up permanent residence in Palestine.
(2) Members of professions who intend to follow
(3) Wives, children and other persons wholly
dependent on residents in Palestine.
(4) Persons who have a definite prospect of
employment with specified employers or enterprises.
(5) Persons of religious occupation, including
the class of Jews who have come to Palestine in recent years from religious
motives and who can show that they have means of maintenance here.
(6) Travellers who do not propose to remain
in Palestine longer than three months.
(7) Returning residents.
In the month of July the ports have again been
opened and persons belonging to those classes have been arriving. There
have been admitted also some hundreds of immigrants not falling within
them, but who had obtained visas for Palestine before the suspension of
immigration in May, had left their homes and would suffer serious hardship
if they were not allowed to proceed.
Partly among the immigrants and partly among
the pre-war residents of Palestine, a small group of Communists was formed.
This group sought to become an agency of Bolshevist propaganda. It aroused
against itself an almost universal hostility and attracted an attention
quite out of proportion to its numbers. As many as possible of this group
have been identified: 15 who are aliens have been deported from the country,
and eight who had acquired Ottoman nationality, together with five aliens,
have been bound over to be of good behaviour.
Measures are being adopted to encourage the
tourist traffic; the results will, however, only gradually become apparent.
Statistics.--A professional statistician
was invited to Palestine for a period of six months and has been engaged
in placing the statistics of the various departments of the Administration
on a sound basis.
Municipalities.--The Municipal Councils,
which before the war were elective, though on a very restricted franchise,
have since the occupation been nominated. Steps are now being taken to
re-establish the elective principle.
A Commission, composed of officers of the Government
and of the mayors and leading councillors of the towns, has made an exhaustive
enquiry into the existing sources of municipal revenue and methods of collection.
It discovered many matters needing reform and recommended a number of changes:
these are gradually being put into effect.
An Ordinance permits the establishment of elective
councils in small towns, in large villages, or in suburbs of a distinct
character within a municipality for the local government of which no special
provision has been made by the Ottoman Law.
A Town Planning Ordinance has been enacted
in order to prevent the continuance of the chaotic methods of building
new streets and quarters which had hitherto prevailed in Palestine. Plans
have been prepared for Jerusalem and Haifa, and are in process of preparation
for other towns.
With a view to preserving the charm and preventing
the vulgarisation of the country, the placarding of advertisements has
been prohibited throughout Palestine, except, in towns, in places allotted
for the purpose by municipalities, in the railway stations and on business
premises for the purposes of the business conducted there.
Jerusalem before the occupation had been wholly
dependent for water upon rain-water stored in cisterns. The Army brought
a new supply by pipe, but this supply has already been found insufficient.
The Government is bringing into use some ancient reservoirs of vast capacity,
named the Pools of Solomon, but of unknown date, possibly Herodian, situated
eight miles away. By their employment it will be possible to furnish the
city with an abundant supply of pure water at moderate cost.
The Pro-Jerusalem Society organised an admirable
exhibition of local arts and crafts, which revealed the presence in Palestine
of a number of artists and craftsmen of marked talent. There is reason
to hope that Palestine may gradually become a centre of artistic production,
rivalling perhaps in time the famous emporiums of the East of past generations.
Included in the area of the Palestine Mandate
is the territory of Trans-Jordania. It is bounded on the north by the frontier
of Syria, placed under the mandate of France; on the south by the kingdom
of the Hejaz; and on the west by the line of the Jordan and the Dead Sea;
while on the east it stretches into the desert and ends--the boundary is
not yet defined--where Mesopotamia begins. Trans-Jordania has a population
of probably 350,000 people. It contains a few small towns and large areas
of fertile land, producing excellent wheat and barley. The people are partly
settled townsmen and agriculturists, partly wandering Bedouin; the latter,
however, cultivate areas, more or less fixed, during certain seasons of
When Palestine west of the Jordan was occupied
by the British Army and placed under a British military administration,
over Trans-Jordania and a large part of Syria there was established an
Arab administration, with its capital at Damascus. The ruler was His Highness
the Emir Feisal, the third son of H.M. King Hussein, the King of the Hejaz.
When Damascus was occupied by French troops in July, 1920, and the Emir
Feisal withdrew, it was necessary to adopt fresh measures in Trans-Jordania.
I proceeded to the central town of Salt on August 20th, and, at an assembly
of notables and sheikhs of the district, announced that His Majesty's Government
favoured the establishment of a system of local self- government, assisted
by a small number of British officers as advisers.
Local councils were accordingly formed in the
various districts, the people not being ready to unite in any form of combined
government for Trans-Jordania as a whole. Five British officers were appointed
to assist the councils and their officials and to aid in organising a gendarmerie.
No British troops were stationed in the district.
It cannot be claimed that the system of administration
so set up was satisfactory. The authority of the councils was flouted by
large sections of the population; taxes were collected with difficulty;
the funds at the disposal of the local authorities were insufficient to
ensure the maintenance of order, still less to defray the cost of roads,
schools, hospitals, or other improvements for the benefit of the people.
Some progress was beginning, however, to be
made when, in the month of November, H.H. the Emir Abdallah, the second
son of King Hussein, arrived from the Hejaz at Ma'an, to the south of Trans-Jordania.
His purpose was declared to be to restore a Shereefian government in Damascus.
His arrival caused much disturbance in the minds of the people of Trans-
Jordania and further impaired the authority, already slight, of the local
authorities. From Ma'an the Emir proceeded on March 2nd to Amman, a town
on the Hejaz Railway to the east of Salt, and there established his headquarters.
The Secretary of State for the Colonies being
in Palestine in the month of March, a Conference was held with the Emir,
who came to Jerusalem for the purpose. An arrangement was reached by which
the Emir undertook to carry on the administration of Trans-Jordania, under
the general direction of the High Commissioner of Palestine, as representing
the Mandatory Power, and with the assistance of a small number of British
officers, for a period of six months pending a definite settlement. Order
and public security were to be maintained and there were to be no attacks
against Syria. Since that time a close connection has continued between
Palestine and Trans-Jordania. British representatives remain in the principal
I paid a visit to Amman on April 18th as the
guest of the Emir and explained in an address to the sheikhs and notables
the arrangement that had been made. The Emir came to Palestine again in
the month of May. The political and technical officers of the Palestine
Administration have made frequent visits to Trans-Jordania and have assisted
the local officials with their advice. The difficulties of local finance
have continued. Order and security are still lacking. A grant-in-aid of
£180,000 was, however, voted by Parliament in July for the assistance
of Trans-Jordania, and it is hoped that this assistance will enable an
effective reserve force of gendarmerie to be established, revenue to be
collected and the government of the district to be placed on a sounder
footing. The district possesses great agricultural wealth, and the local
revenue, if it were collected, would fully meet the local expenditure.
The political and economic connection between
Palestine and Trans-Jordania is very close. Trade is active; communications
are constant; disturbance in the one area cannot fail to be of detriment
to the other; the prevention of raids from east of the Jordan and the preservation
of order there are of no small importance to the population on the west.
Syria, too, has a close interest in the security of her southern border.
If Trans-Jordania became a prey to anarchy, not only her own inhabitants,
but also the neighbouring territories, would be sufferers. All of them
look to the Mandatory Power to prevent an eventuality which, in default
of her influence and authority, might prove not remote.
I cannot end this Report without expressing
my very sincere thanks to the members of my staff for the work of an arduous
British and Palestinian, at headquarters and
in the districts, in the administrative departments, in the judiciary,
in the technical services, in the police--the officials of the Government
have displayed a high degree of loyalty and zeal. Individual exceptions
there have been, no doubt. In so new a service a uniformly satisfactory
standard is not to be expected. But during a time of activity and change,
under conditions often of difficulty
and sometimes of strain, the staff as a whole
have shown a sense of duty, an industry and a loyalty that redound both
to their own credit and to the country's advantage.
The British military authorities have rendered
ready assistance whenever it was desired. Whether at General Headquarters
at Cairo, or at the Divisional Headquarters in Palestine, or at the local
stations, the Commanding Officers have constantly maintained a close and
friendly co-operation with the Administration. They have dealt promptly
and efficiently with all matters of joint concern. To them also I would
convey my cordial thanks.
30th July, 1921.
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