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1922 Text: League of Nations Palestine Mandate

The Palestine Mandate : The Council of the League of Nations : July 24 , 1922

A careful reading of the original text of the mandate handed to Great Britain by the League of Nations reflects most of the political, geo-strategic, and historical realities of the Middle East and Palestine in particular:

The victory of the Allies over Turkey is clear: "..the Principal Allied Powers have agreed, entrust to a Mandatory selected by the said Powers the administration of the territory of Palestine , which formerly belonged to the Turkish Empire..."

It is absolutely clear that an inherent objective of the Mandate is to grant the Jews a homeland in Palestine based on the Balfour Declaration : "...the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, (is) in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

And there is a caveat protecting the Arabs: " it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine..."

The historic connection of the Jews to Palestine is clearly recognized: "...recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country..."

Article 2 of the Mandate states expliciltly that Palestine is to become a national home for the Jews as well as a place for protecting the rights of other religious groups :"...political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion."

Article 4 calls for an appropriate "... Jewish agency that shall be recognised as a public body for the purpose of advising and co-operating with the Administration of Palestine in such economic, social and other matters as may affect the establishment of the Jewish national home and the interests of the Jewish population in Palestine..." And that it will be the " Zionist organization, so long as its organization and constitution are in the opinion of the Mandatory appropriate, shall be recognised as such agency. It shall take steps in consultation with His Britannic Majesty's Government to secure the co-operation of all Jews who are willing to assist in the establishment of the Jewish national home."

Article 6 goes to great lengths to state that the " Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency..., close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes." And Article 7 grants Jews who emigrate the right to obtain citizenship: "The Administration of Palestine shall be responsible for enacting a nationality law. There shall be included in this law provisions framed so as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine."

In article 11, power is given to "...the Jewish agency mentioned ... to construct or operate, upon fair and equitable terms, any public works, services and utilities, and to develop any of the natural resources of the country, in so far as these matters are not directly undertaken by the Administration..."

Article 13 provides for religious freedoms:" All responsibility in connection with the Holy Places and religious buildings or sites in Palestine, including that of preserving existing rights and of securing free access to the Holy Places, religious buildings and sites and the free exercise of worship, while ensuring the requirements of public order and decorum, is assumed by the Mandatory..." and Arabs are specifically assured:".. and provided also that nothing in this mandate shall be construed as conferring upon the Mandatory authority to interfere with the fabric or the management of purely Moslem sacred shrines, the immunities of which are guaranteed."

Article 14 recognizes the complexity of establishing who owns the religious holy sites in the Holy Land:"A special commission shall be appointed by the Mandatory to study, define and determine the rights and claims in connection with the Holy Places and the rights and claims relating to the different religious communities in Palestine..." Article 15 assures freedom of worship and no discrimination against anyone :"The Mandatory shall see that complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, are ensured to all. No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief." Freedom of educational choice is also granted:" The right of each community to maintain its own schools for the education of its own members in its own language..."

Article 17 gives full freedom of movemnt to the British army cofirming its status as the symbol and arm of the ruling power:"... The Mandatory shall be entitled at all times to use the roads, railways and ports of Palestine for the movement of armed forces and the carriage of fuel and supplies."

Article 18 states the need for taxation and treaties:"...the Mandatory, (may)impose such taxes and customs duties as it may consider necessary, and take such steps as it may think best to promote the development of the natural resources of the country and to safeguard the interests of the population. It may also, on the advice of the Mandatory, conclude a special customs agreement with any State the territory of which in 1914 was wholly included in Asiatic Turkey or Arabia."

Article 21 pays a lot of attention to excavations , archeology and antiquities going into specifics, which reveals much about the British regard for this area of human study and its appreciation of the deep historical significance of its new mandate ,and is worth noting :"... (1)'Antiquity' means any construction or any product of human activity earlier than the year 1700 A. D. (2)The law for the protection of antiquities shall proceed by encouragement rather than by threat. Any person who, having discovered an antiquity without being furnished with the authorization referred to ..., reports the same to an official of the competent Department, shall be rewarded according to the value of the discovery. (3)No antiquity may be disposed of except to the competent Department, unless this Department renounces the acquisition of any such antiquity. No antiquity may leave the country without an export licence from the said Department. (4) Any person who maliciously or negligently destroys or damages an antiquity shall be liable to a penalty to be fixed. (5) No clearing of ground or digging with the object of finding antiquities shall be permitted, under penalty of fine, except to persons authorised by the competent Department. (6) Equitable terms shall be fixed for expropriation, temporary or permanent, of lands which might be of historical or archaeological interest. (7) Authorization to excavate shall only be granted to persons who show sufficient guarantees of archaeological experience. The Administration of Palestine shall not, in granting these authorizations, act in such a way as to exclude scholars of any nation without good grounds. (8) The proceeds of excavations may be divided between the excavator and the competent Department in a proportion fixed by that Department. If division seems impossible for scientific reasons, the excavator shall receive a fair indemnity in lieu of a part of the find."

Article 22 affirms three official languages:"English, Arabic and Hebrew shall be the official languages of Palestine. Any statement or inscription in Arabic on stamps or money in Palestine shall be repeated in Hebrew and any statement or inscription in Hebrew shall be repeated in Arabic."

Article 23 makes religious holidays official public holidays:"The Administration of Palestine shall recognise the holy days of the respective communities in Palestine as legal days of rest for the members of such communities."

Article 25 deals with the looming division of Palestine by mentioning that which lies east of the Jordan River :"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..."

Article 28 concludes with the final understanding that:"The present instrument shall be deposited in original in the archives of the League of Nations and certified copies shall be forwarded by the Secretary-General of the League of Nations to all members of the League. Done at London the twenty-fourth day of July , one thousand nine hundred and twenty-two.

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