British White Paper of 1939
the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions
as will secure the establishment in
safeguard the civil and religious rights of all inhabitants of
To place the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the development of self governing institutions.
Commission and previous commissions of Enquiry have drawn attention to the
ambiguity of certain expressions in the Mandate, such as the expression `a
national home for the Jewish people', and they have found in this
ambiguity and the resulting uncertainty as to the objectives of policy a
fundamental cause of unrest and hostility between Arabs and Jews. His
Majesty's Government are convinced that in the interests of the peace and
well being of the whole people of
been urged that the expression "a national home for the Jewish people"
offered a prospect that
statements have been made to the effect that the purpose in view is to
create a wholly Jewish
statement has not removed doubts, and His Majesty's Government therefore
now declare unequivocally that it is not part of their policy that
nature of the Jewish National Home in
the last two or three generations the Jews have recreated in Palestine a
community now numbering 80,000, of whom about one fourth are farmers or
workers upon the land. This community has its own political organs; an
elected assembly for the direction of its domestic concerns; elected
councils in the towns; and an organisation for the control of its schools.
It has its elected Chief Rabbinate and Rabbinical Council for the
direction of its religious affairs. Its business is conducted in Hebrew as
a vernacular language, and a Hebrew press serves its needs. It has its
distinctive intellectual life and displays considerable economic activity.
This community, then, with its town and country population, its political,
religious and social organisations, its own language, its own customs, its
own life, has in fact `national' characteristics. When it is asked what is
meant by the development of the Jewish National Home in Palestine, it may
be answered that it is not the imposition of a Jewish nationality upon the
inhabitants of Palestine as a whole, but the further development of the
existing Jewish community, with the assistance of Jews in other parts of
the world, in order that it may become a centre in which the Jewish people
as a whole may take, on grounds of religion and race, an interest and
pride. But in order that this community should have the best prospect of
free development and provide a full opportunity for the Jewish people to
display its capacities, it is essential that it should know that it is in
Majesty's Government adhere to this interpretation of the (Balfour)
Declaration of 1917 and regard it as an authoritative and comprehensive
description of the character of the Jewish National Home in
recent discussions the Arab delegations have repeated the contention that
Palestine was included within the area in which Sir Henry McMahon, on
behalf of the British Government, in October, 1915, undertook to recognise
and support Arab independence. The validity of this claim, based on the
terms of the correspondence which passed between Sir Henry McMahon and the
Sharif of Mecca, was thoroughly and carefully investigated by the British
and Arab representatives during the recent conferences in London. Their
report, which has been published, states that both the Arab and the
British representatives endeavoured to understand the point of view of the
other party but that they were unable to reach agreement upon an
interpretation of the correspondence. There is no need to summarize here
the arguments presented by each side. His Majesty's Government regret the
misunderstandings which have arisen as regards some of the phrases used.
For their part they can only adhere, for the reasons given by their
representatives in the Report, to the view that the whole of
Majesty's Government are charged as the Mandatory authority "to secure the
development of self governing institutions" in
establishment of an independent State and the complete relinquishmnet of
Mandatory control in
light of these considerations His Majesty's Government make the following
declaration of their intentions regarding the future government of
objective of His Majesty's Government is the establishment within 10 years
of an independent
The independent State should be one in which Arabs and Jews share government in such a way as to ensure that the essential interests of each community are safeguarded.
establishment of the independent State will be preceded by a transitional
period throughout which His Majesty's Government will retain
responsibility for the country. During the transitional period the people
As soon as peace and order have been sufficiently restored in Palestine steps will be taken to carry out this policy of giving the people of Palestine an increasing part in the government of their country, the objective being to place Palestinians in charge of all the Departments of Government, with the assistance of British advisers and subject to the control of the High Commissioner. Arab and Jewish representatives will be invited to serve as heads of Departments approximately in proportion to their respective populations. The number of Palestinians in charge of Departments will be increased as circumstances permit until all heads of Departments are Palestinians, exercising the administrative and advisory functions which are presently performed by British officials. When that stage is reached consideration will be given to the question of converting the Executive Council into a Council of Ministers with a consequential change in the status and functions of the Palestinian heads of Departments.
Majesty's Government make no proposals at this stage regarding the
establishment of an elective legislature. Nevertheless they would regard
this as an appropriate constitutional development, and, should public
At the end of five years from the restoration of peace and order, an appropriate body representative of the people of Palestine and of His Majesty's Government will be set up to review the working of the constitutional arrangements during the transitional period and to consider and make recommendations regarding the constitution of the independent Palestine State.
His Majesty's Government will require to be satisfied that in the treaty contemplated by sub-paragraph (6) adequate provision has been made for:
the security of, and freedom of access to the Holy Places, and protection of the interests and property of the various religious bodies.
protection of the different communities in
requirements to meet the strategic situation as may be regarded as
necessary by His Majesty's Government in the light of the circumstances
then existing. His Majesty's Government will also require to be satisfied
that the interests of certain foreign countries in
Majesty's Government will do everything in their power to create
conditions which will enable the independent
During the transitional period steps will be taken to increase the powers and responsibilities of municipal corporations and local councils.
Section II. Immigration
Article 6 of the Mandate, the Administration of Palestine, "while ensuring
that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not
prejudiced," is required to "facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable
conditions." Beyond this, the extent to which Jewish immigration into
necessary that the Jewish community in
practice, from that date onwards until recent times, the economic
absorptive capacity of the country has been treated as the sole limiting
factor, and in the letter which Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, as Prime Minister,
sent to Dr. Weizmann in February 1931 it was laid down as a matter of
policy that economic absorptive capacity was the sole criterion. This
interpretation has been supported by resolutions of the Permanent Mandates
Commissioner. But His Majesty's Government do not read either the
Statement of Policy of 1922 or the letter of 1931 as implying that the
Mandate requires them, for all time and in all circumstances, to
facilitate the immigration of Jews into Palestine subject only to
consideration of the country's economic absorptive capacity. Nor do they
find anything in the Mandate or in subsequent Statements of Policy to
support the view that the establishment of a Jewish National Home in
view of the Royal Commission the association of the policy of the Balfour
Declaration with the Mandate system implied the belief that Arab hostility
to the former would sooner or later be overcome. It has been the hope of
British Governments ever since the Balfour Declaration was issued that in
time the Arab population, recognizing the advantages to be derived from
Jewish settlement and development in
been urged that all further Jewish immigration into
Jewish immigration during the next five years will be at a rate which, if economic absorptive capacity permits, will bring the Jewish population up to approximately one third of the total population of the country. Taking into account the expected natural increase of the Arab and Jewish populations, and the number of illegal Jewish immigrants now in the country, this would allow of the admission, as from the beginning of April this year, of some 75,000 immigrants over the next five years. These immigrants would, subject to the criterion of economic absorptive capacity, be admitted as follows:
For each of the next five years a quota of 10,000 Jewish immigrants will be allowed on the understanding that a shortage one year may be added to the quotas for subsequent years, within the five year period, if economic absorptive capacity permits.
In addition, as a contribution towards the solution of the Jewish refugee problem, 25,000 refugees will be admitted as soon as the High Commissioner is satisfied that adequate provision for their maintenance is ensured, special consideration being given to refugee children and dependents.
The existing machinery for ascertaining economic absorptive capacity will be retained, and the High Commissioner will have the ultimate responsibility for deciding the limits of economic capacity. Before each periodic decision is taken, Jewish and Arab representatives will be consulted.
After the period of five years, no further Jewish immigration will be permitted unless the Arabs of Palestine are prepared to acquiesce in it.
His Majesty's Government are determined to check illegal immigration, and further preventive measures are being adopted. The numbers of any Jewish illegal immigrants who, despite these measures, may succeed in coming into the country and cannot be deported will be deducted from the yearly quotas.
His Majesty's Government are satisfied that, when the immigration over five years which is now contemplated has taken place, they will not be justified in facilitating, nor will they be under any obligation to facilitate, the further development of the Jewish National Home by immigration regardless of the wishes of the Arab population.
Section III. Land
The Administration of Palestine is required, under Article 6 of the Mandate, "while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced," to encourage "close settlement by Jews on the land," and no restriction has been imposed hitherto on the transfer of land from Arabs to Jews. The Reports of several expert Commissions have indictaed that, owing to the natural growth of the Arab population and the steady sale in recent years of Arab land to Jews, there is now in certain areas no room for further transfers of Arab land, whilst in some other areas such transfers of land must be restricted if Arab cultivators are to maintain their existing standard of life and a considerable landless Arab population is not soon to be created. In these circumstances, the High Commissioner will be given general powers to prohibit and regulate transfers of land. These powers will date from the publication of this statement of policy and the High Commissioner will retain them throughout the transitional period.
The policy of the Government will be directed towards the development of the land and the improvement, where possible, of methods of cultivation. In the light of such development it will be open to the High Commissioner, should he be satisfied that the "rights and position" of the Arab population will be duly preserved, to review and modify any orders passed relating to the prohibition or restriction of the transfer of land.
framing these proposals His Majesty's Government have sincerely
endeavoured to act in strict accordance with their obligations under the
Mandate to both the Arabs and the Jews. The vagueness of the phrases
employed in some instances to describe these obligations has led to
controversy and has made the task of interpretation difficult. His
Majesty's Government cannot hope to satisfy the partisans of one party or
the other in such controversy as the Mandate has aroused. Their purpose is
to be just as between the two people in