The Palestine Mandate
The Council of the League of Nations:
July 24, 1922
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have agreed, for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, to entrust to a Mandatory selected by the said Powers the administration of the territory of Palestine, which formerly belonged to the Turkish Empire, within such boundaries as may be fixed by them; and
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Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national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; and
Whereas 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; and
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have selected His Britannic Majesty as the Mandatory for Palestine; and
Whereas the mandate in respect of Palestine has been formulated in the following terms and submitted to the Council of the League for approval; and
Whereas His Britannic Majesty has accepted the mandate in respect of Palestine and undertaken to exercise it on behalf of the League of Nations in conformity with the following provisions; and
Whereas by the afore-mentioned Article 22 (paragraph 8), it is provided that the degree of authority, control or administration to be exercised by the Mandatory, not having been previously agreed upon by the Members of the League, shall be explicitly defined by the Council of the League Of Nations; confirming the said Mandate, defines its terms as follows: ARTICLE 1. The Mandatory shall have full powers of legislation and of administration, save as they may be limited by the terms of this mandate. ART. 2. The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such 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. ART. 3. The Mandatory shall, so far as circumstances permit, encourage local autonomy. ART. 4. An appropriate Jewish agency 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, subject always to the control of the Administration to assist and take part in the development of the country.
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.
ART. 5. The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of the Government of any foreign Power. ART. 6. 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 referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes. ART. 7. 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. ART. 8. The privileges and immunities of foreigners, including the benefits of consular jurisdiction and protection as formerly enjoyed by Capitulation or usage in the Ottoman Empire, shall not be applicable in Palestine.
Unless the Powers whose nationals enjoyed the afore-mentioned privileges and immunities on August 1st, 1914, shall have previously renounced the right to their re-establishment, or shall have agreed to their non-application for a specified period, these privileges and immunities shall, at the expiration of the mandate, be immediately reestablished in their entirety or with such modifications as may have been agreed upon between the Powers concerned. ART. 9. The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that the judicial system established in Palestine shall assure to foreigners, as well as to natives, a complete guarantee of their rights.
Respect for the personal status of the various peoples and communities and for their religious interests shall be fully guaranteed. In particular, the control and administration of Wakfs shall be exercised in accordance with religious law and the dispositions of the founders. ART. 10. Pending the making of special extradition agreements relating to Palestine, the extradition treaties in force between the Mandatory and other foreign Powers shall apply to Palestine. ART. 11. The Administration of Palestine shall take all necessary measures to safeguard the interests of the community in connection with the development of the country, and, subject to any international obligations accepted by the Mandatory, shall have full power to provide for public ownership or control of any of the natural resources of the country or of the public works, services and utilities established or to be established therein. It shall introduce a land system appropriate to the needs of the country, having regard, among other things, to the desirability of promoting the close settlement and intensive cultivation of the land.
The Administration may arrange with the Jewish agency mentioned in Article 4 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. Any such arrangements shall provide that no profits distributed by such agency, directly or indirectly, shall exceed a reasonable rate of interest on the capital, and any further profits shall be utilised by it for the benefit of the country in a manner approved by the Administration. ART. 12. The Mandatory shall be entrusted with the control of the foreign relations of Palestine and the right to issue exequaturs to consuls appointed by foreign Powers. He shall also be entitled to afford diplomatic and consular protection to citizens of Palestine when outside its territorial limits. ART. 13. 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, who shall be responsible solely to the League of Nations in all matters connected herewith, provided that nothing in this article shall prevent the Mandatory from entering into such arrangements as he may deem reasonable with the Administration for the purpose of carrying the provisions of this article into effect; 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. ART. 14. 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. The method of nomination, the composition and the functions of this Commission shall be submitted to the Council of the League for its approval, and the Commission shall not be appointed or enter upon its functions without the approval of the Council. ART. 15. 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.
The right of each community to maintain its own schools for the education of its own members in its own language, while conforming to such educational requirements of a general nature as the Administration may impose, shall not be denied or impaired. ART. 16. The Mandatory shall be responsible for exercising such supervision over religious or eleemosynary bodies of all faiths in Palestine as may be required for the maintenance of public order and good government. Subject to such supervision, no measures shall be taken in Palestine to obstruct or interfere with the enterprise of such bodies or to discriminate against any representative or member of them on the ground of his religion or nationality. ART. 17. The Administration of Palestine may organise on a voluntary basis the forces necessary for the preservation of peace and order, and also for the defence of the country, subject, however, to the supervision of the Mandatory, but shall not use them for purposes other than those above specified save with the consent of the Mandatory. Except for such purposes, no military, naval or air forces shall be raised or maintained by the Administration of Palestine.
Nothing in this article shall preclude the Administration of Palestine from contributing to the cost of the maintenance of the forces of the Mandatory in Palestine.
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. ART. 18. The Mandatory shall see that there is no discrimination in Palestine against the nationals of any State Member of the League of Nations (including companies incorporated under its laws) as compared with those of the Mandatory or of any foreign State in matters concerning taxation, commerce or navigation, the exercise of industries or professions, or in the treatment of merchant vessels or civil aircraft. Similarly, there shall be no discrimination in Palestine against goods originating in or destined for any of the said States, and there shall be freedom of transit under equitable conditions across the mandated area.
Subject as aforesaid and to the other provisions of this mandate, the Administration of Palestine may, on the advice of the Mandatory, 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. ART. 19. The Mandatory shall adhere on behalf of the Administration of Palestine to any general international conventions already existing, or which may be concluded hereafter with the approval of the League of Nations, respecting the slave traffic, the traffic in arms and ammunition, or the traffic in drugs, or relating to commercial equality, freedom of transit and navigation, aerial navigation and postal, telegraphic and wireless communication or literary, artistic or industrial property. ART. 20. The Mandatory shall co-operate on behalf of the Administration of Palestine, so far as religious, social and other conditions may permit, in the execution of any common policy adopted by the League of Nations for preventing and combating disease, including diseases of plants and animals. ART. 21. The Mandatory shall secure the enactment within twelve months from this date, and shall ensure the execution of a Law of Antiquities based on the following rules. This law shall ensure equality of treatment in the matter of excavations and archaeological research to the nationals of all States Members of the League of Nations.
(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 in paragraph 5, 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. ART. 22. 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. ART. 23. 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. ART. 24. The Mandatory shall make to the Council of the League of Nations an annual report to the satisfaction of the Council as to the measures taken during the year to carry out the provisions of the mandate. Copies of all laws and regulations promulgated or issued during the year shall be communicated with the report. ART. 25. 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, provided that no action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 15, 16 and 18. ART. 26. The Mandatory agrees that, if any dispute whatever should arise between the Mandatory and another member of the League of Nations relating to the interpretation or the application of the provisions of the mandate, such dispute, if it cannot be settled by negotiation, shall be submitted to the Permanent Court of International Justice provided for by Article 14 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. ART. 27. The consent of the Council of the League of Nations is required for any modification of the terms of this mandate. ART. 28. In the event of the termination of the mandate hereby conferred upon the Mandatory, the Council of the League of Nations shall make such arrangements as may be deemed necessary for safeguarding in perpetuity, under guarantee of the League, the rights secured by Articles 13 and 14, and shall use its influence for securing, under the guarantee of the League, that the Government of Palestine will fully honour the financial obligations legitimately incurred by the Administration of Palestine during the period of the mandate, including the rights of public servants to pensions or gratuities.
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.|
Jordan illegally entered the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1948 and remained in occupation until 1967
Jordan illegally entered the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1948 and remained in occupation until 1967. It attempted to annex the territory in 1951, but that annexation was recognized only by Britain and Pakistan; not even by Egypt nor any other Arab state.
Egypt, similarly occupied Gaza in 1948 in violation of UN resolution 181, but unlike Jordan Egypt did not attempt to annex it and significantly, did not accept the return of Gaza in its peace agreement with Israel.
That territorial adjustments were contemplated from the earliest days is confirmed by article II.2. of the 1949 Jordanian-Israeli General Armistice Agreement, which specifically stated: "no provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims, and positions of either Party hereto in the peaceful settlement of the Palestine questions, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations".
As Jordan no longer makes any claim to the West Bank and Egypt makes no claim on Gaza the only remaining claimants are Israel and the Palestinians. As to who has the stronger claim, the Palestinians never had any title to these territories. Moreover, international law distinguishes clearly between "aggressive conquest" and territorial acquisition after a war of self-defense. Former US State Department Legal Advisor Stephen Schwebel, who later headed the International Court of Justice in the Hague, wrote in 1970 regarding Israel's case: "Where the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense has, against that prior holder, better title”
Significantly, even the UN rejected Soviet efforts to have Israel branded as the aggressor in the Six-Day War.
In these circumstances, the most accurate and realistic description of the West Bank and Gaza is disputed territory, whose final disposition will be determined by negotiation as provided in resolution 242 (about which more later).
“Disputed”, rather than “occupied” territories is the designation used in other similar situations such as Kashmir,
It is ironical that neither Jordan nor Egypt offered to create a Palestinian state in these territories when they were in a position to do so.
Legality of the occupation
Quite apart from its historical ties to Judea, Samaria and especially Jerusalem, Israel has a very strong claim to both territories. They were unambiguously allocated to the Jewish state in the League of Nations Mandate the preamble of which stated that its purpose was "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people in Mandatory Palestine" (which included not only present day Israel, but also the West Bank and what is now known as Jordan).
Jordan was hived off in terms of Article 25, of the mandate, which entitled the Mandatory, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of the mandate, as it may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions. As such permission was given in respect of territory east, but not west of the Jordan, the West Bank, Jerusalem and present day Israel remained allocated for the Jewish national home. Their capture by Israel in a defensive war from states that originally seized them by armed aggression was therefore fully justified.
The late Eugene W. Rostow, who played a leading role in producing the famous Resolution 242, as well as the late Professor Julius Stone, one of the twentieth century's leading authorities on the Law of Nations, both pronounced that the Jewish right of settlement in the area is equivalent in every way to the right of the existing Palestinian population to live there. According to Rostow, the Armistice Lines of 1949, which are part of the West Bank boundary, represent nothing but the position of the contending armies when the final cease-fire was achieved in the War of Independence. And the Armistice Agreements specifically provide, except in the case of Lebanon, that the demarcation lines can be changed only by agreement when the parties move from armistice to peace. Resolution 242 is based on that provision of the Armistice Agreements and states certain criteria that would justify changes in the demarcation lines when the parties make peace. (See articles by Rostow)
Acknowledgement of the legality of the occupation does not preclude advocating withdrawal from part or all of the West Bank in order to achieve a peaceful settlement. It is however, intellectually dishonest to use the invalid assumption that the occupation is illegal to bolster a case for such withdrawal.
The legal position
An authoritative clear analysis of the legal status of the West bank and Gaza in terms of international law, by Australian lawyer, Ian Lacey, is available at
In an update, Ian lacey adds
that in his view, any possible concept of an occupation came to an end with the Oslo Accords.
The current binding legal instrument under the Accords is the Interim Agreement of 1995, which governs the status of the Territories on an interim basis until a final status agreement is negotiated. Under Article XI all of the civil powers and responsibilities in the whole of the Territories are now exercised by the Palestinian Authority, although in the lightly populated area still defined as Area C, this does not include powers relating to territory. The result is that 100% of the Palestinian population of the territories is presently governed by the Palestinian Authority.|Under Article XII(1), ie. by express agreement with the Palestinians, Israel retains responsibility for defense and the overall security of Israelis and settlements, and has the powers to take the steps necessary to meet this responsibility. In other words Israel forces are present in the Territories by agreement and only to the extent made necessary by attacks on Israelis. Further, under Article XXXI permanent status negotiations are to include Jerusalem, Settlements and Borders. In other words it is expressly acknowledged that existing Settlements are not illegal during the interim period, and that ultimate borders will be subject to negotiation. This reinforces the description of the Territories as disputed. As can be seen, they are certainly not occupied in any sense. The legal position may enter a state of flux as a result of the election of a Palestinian government which has expressly stated that it does not intend to enter into the permanent status negotiations contemplated by Oslo. If the Interim Agreement were to be officially repudiated by the PA, and if that repudiation was officially accepted by Israel, then the legal situation would revert to the status quo ante. Israel would remain the only State body entitled to exercise sovereignty in the Territories, certainly until a permanent peace was negotiated, and arguably with a right of unilateral annexation, in whole or part, for the purposes of defense against future aggression, and as occurred in Europe after the Second World War.
What is meant by “end the occupation”?
The mantra 'end the occupation' is in itself wooly and should not be used without clarification of its intended meaning. Some assume it refers only to territory gained by Israel in 1967. Others refer to all land beyond the 1947 partition boundaries. But the insurmountable obstacle to any long-term peaceful solution is that many Palestinian and Arab spokespeople openly declare that there is no place for Israel at all and that they will continue their attacks until Israel ceases to exist. Until his last days, the late Chairman Arafat wore a badge on his uniform depicting a Palestinian state, which included the entire area of present-day Israel, from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. This strategic Palestinian goal goes a long way to explain the dramatic rise in terror attacks while peace talks were in progress during 1993 and 1994.
Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank should not be seen as correction of an illegal situation. Rather it is a declaration, that despite Israel's presence in these territories being completely justified by the circumstances, which prompted the 1967 war, and despite their legality in terms of international law, withdrawals and territorial adjustments have been made and more will be offered in a sincere effort to attain a meaningful peace.
Very few indeed, even among the most ardent advocates of 'ending the occupation' call for Israel to relinquish, the Western Wall and access to Mount Scopus which had been inaccessible to Israel prior to 1967. If suggestions for a settlement are to be meaningful, the misleading expression 'end the occupation' must be avoided and replaced by the concept of 'territorial compromise' as contemplated in the careful wording of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. These resolutions require the Arab states and Israel to make peace, and that when "a just and lasting peace" is reached in the Middle East, Israel should withdraw from some but not all of the territory it occupied in the course of the 1967 war. The Resolutions leave it to the parties to agree on the peace borders.
Much has been written about the implications of Resolution 242 and if we are to avoid the distortions introduced by propagandists, obviously, the most reliable source from whom to seek clarification are the persons who drafted it. In drafting Resolution 242, British Ambassador to the UN in 1967, Lord Caradon, and American Ambassador, Arthur Goldberg, deliberately omitted a demand for Israel to return to the pre-1967 borders. In an interview in the Beirut Daily Star on June 12, 1974, Lord Caradon stated:
"It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967 because these positions were undesirable and artificial. After all, they were just the places where the soldiers on each side happened to be on the day the fighting stopped in 1948. They were just armistice lines. That's why we didn't demand that the Israelis return to them, and I think we were right not to."
Recommended Reading: (Click here)
Articles by the Late Eugene W. Rostow, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs between 1966 and 1969 who played a leading role in producing the famous Resolution 242.
a. Historical Approach to the Issue of Legality of Jewish Settlement Activity (The New Republic April 23, 1990).
b. Are the settlements legal? Resolved. (The New Republic, October 21, 1991).
In the second episode of this six-part series, Al Jazeera looks at the events that led to the PLO's expulsion from Jordan and the birth of the Black September Organisation.
The Palestinians took full advantage of the state of chaos that followed Arab defeat in the 1967 Six-Day war.
Palestinian guerrilla factions consolidated their grip on the refugee camps in Arab states and hundreds of fresh recruits swelled their ranks.The image of the young fedayeen - or freedom fighters - clad in the traditional Palestinian headscarf became an icon of resistance.
While some Arab regimes vied for influence among the Palestinians as a way of gaining leverage on the regional scene, not all held the Palestinians in such high esteem.In Jordan, armed Palestinians strolled through the streets - enjoying freedom of movement and launching operations from Jordanian territory against Israel.A bloody showdown was on the horizon - not with Israel, but with fellow Arabs.