Palestine and Transjordan Administration Reports 1918–1948

  (13) 978-1-85207-557-6   Extent:  16 volumes, 11,500 pages
Editor: R. Jarman  Published: 1995
Paper: Printed on acid free paper
Binding: Library bindings with gilt finish
See sample pages: not available


This 16 volume work presents a comprehensive collection of British administrative reports and associated documents, including extensive material hitherto unknown and unpublished.
The series includes the pre-Mandate reports of 1918-1923, the Mandate and Departmental Annual Reports from 1923-1947/8, including the unpublished Mandate Reports for 1940 and 1941, the extensive Survey of Palestine 1946/47 and the formal papers covering the termination of the Mandate in 1948.
This is an essential research source for information on British administration in Palestine and Transjordan, on the continuous tensions of the period between the Arab and Jewish populations, on civil disorders and the eventual unworkability of the Mandate.


Palestine, having previously been part of the Ottoman Empire, was occupied in 1917-18 by British forces under the command of General Allenby. A military administration was established for the whole of Syria and Palestine under the general title of Occupied Enemy Territory Administration (OETA)with Palestine as OETA South. The military government was essentially a holding operation until the war was over and a final political solution was agreed. At the 1919 Peace Conference it was decided by the victorious powers that the mandates system should be applied to the non-Turkish parts of the Ottoman Empire; and at the San Remo Conference on 25th April 1920 the mandate for Palestine was given to the United Kingdom. Shortly afterwards, on 1st July 1920, the military administration was replaced by a civilian administration under a High Commissioner.
Although the Palestine mandate had been assigned to the United Kingdom by the victorious powers at the San Remo Conference in 1920, the actual terms of the draft mandate were not agreed by the Council of the League of Nations until 24th July 1922. Even then the Mandate did not come into operation as peace still had not been officially concluded between the Allied Powers and Turkey. It was not until 29th September 1923, after the Treaty of Lausanne had become operative and the war between Turkey and the Allies was officially ended, that the Council of the League was able officially to begin the British Mandate over Palestine.
The position of Transjordan provided some difficulty, especially concerning the question of a Jewish homeland. It was agreed that the Balfour declaration should not apply to Transjordan, and that there should be a separate High Commissioner for Jordan although he should be the same person as the High Commissioner for Palestine.
The Mandate was to remain in force from 29th September 1923 until 15th May 1948, but the whole period was bedevilled by the incompatibility of the aspirations of the Jewish settlers and the rights of the Arab inhabitants. Serious civil disorders caused by tensions between Arabs and Jews had broken out in 1920 and 1921 before the official beginning of the Mandate. In April 1936 the Arab Rebellion began and lasted until 1939, influenced by the recent example of nationalist movements in neighbouring Arab countries.
In August 1936 a Royal Commission under the chairmanship of Lord Peel was appointed with the task of enquiring into the underlying causes of the recent disturbances and into the operation of the Mandate; it submitted its report in June 1937. The members of the Commission felt that the obligations imposed on the mandatory Power by the terms of the Mandate were irreconcilable.
The Peel Report was examined by the Permanent Mandates Commission in August 1937, which stated that ´the present mandate became almost unworkable once it was publicly declared to be so by a British Royal Commission speaking with the twofold authority conferred on it by its impartiality and its unanimity, and by the Government of the Mandatory Power itself.´ It went on to recommend that if the policy of partition were adopted, the Jewish and Arab states should remain under a transitional mandatory regime for the time being. On 16th September 1937 the Council of the League of Nations authorised the British Government to prepare a detailed plan for the partition of Palestine but deferred consideration of it until this plan had been submitted.
Accordingly, the British Government appointed in February 1938 a Royal Commission under Sir John Woodhead to investigate partition, but as a result of the findings of that Commission the British Government announced in its 1938 White Paper that ´the political, administrative and financial difficulties involved in the proposal to create independent Arab and Jewish States inside Palestine are so great that this solution of the problem is impracticable.´
The British Government´s White Paper of May 1939 was intended to put an end to uncertainty as to the objectives of their policy in Palestine, and to prepare the way for the termination of the Mandate. The general objective was to be the establishment within 10 years of an independent Palestine State in which Arabs and Jews shared in government in such a way as to ensure that the essential interests of each community were safeguarded; in the meantime, Jewish immigration was to be restricted as were the sales of Arab land to Jewish settlers. It was the intention of the British Government to seek the approval of the Council of the League of Nations for their new policy, but they were prevented from doing so by the outbreak of war in September 1939.
The end of the war brought an increase in terrorist activity, and more attempts to find a political solution. The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry met in 1946 but its report did not lead to any solution. The British Government referred the question to the United Nations in 1947, but again no solution was forthcoming. Accordingly, the British Government determined to give up the Mandate and this was done in May 1948.


From the Editor´s Introduction
The reports published in these volumes cover the period of British administration of Palestine and Transjordan from 1918- 1948. During the military administration of Palestine from 1918 to July 1920, there were no specific annual administration reports - instead, there were the reviews of revenue and expenditure for the financial years 1918/19 and 1919/20 (which reported on how the money had been spent and served as administration reports in all but name); in addition, there were the ad hoc reports by Sir Walter Lawrence and Herbert Samuel on the general administration of the Palestine area. None of these reports have previously been published.
The period of civil government in Palestine, from the ending of the military administration on 1st July 1920 to the official beginning of the Mandate on 29th October 1923, saw the beginning of a series of annual reports issued and published by the Government of Palestine.
With the confirmation of the Mandate in October 1923, the Mandatory Power was required to produce an annual report on its administration of the mandated territory to the League of Nations. The first one was produced in 1923 and consisted of the Palestine Government´s Report for that year together with questions and answers on it. The first proper Mandate Report was produced in 1924 and they were produced every year thereafter until 1938.
The outbreak of the Second World War on 3rd September 1939 initially caused no change in the concept and writing of these mandate reports. For 1939, 1940 and 1941 the reports were written, and kept in proof form in case the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations should ever ask for them.
Unfortunately, the 1939 Mandate Report cannot now be found. According to the relevant British Colonial Office minutes, the report for 1939 was indeed written, and the proof copy of the report was sent to the Colonial Office Library. We have been in touch with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Library (the successor to the Colonial Office Library) and a search has been made, twice, for the report, but to no avail - it would appear to have been discarded. In theory, the carbon copy of the individual chapters of the report with the accompanying correspondence should have been kept in the archives of the former Government of Palestine; accordingly, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Library suggested that the editor should contact the Israel State Archives at the office of the Prime Minister, Jerusalem, where the old Palestine Archives are now kept. This the editor did, but was informed in a letter from the Israel State Archives, dated 22nd February 1994, that ´the Palestine and Transjordan Reports from 1939 to 1941 are not in our possession.´
Although the final 1939 Mandate Report seems to be lost, we still have the original departmental reports on which that report was based. We are, therefore, reproducing all the departmental reports for the financial year (1st April 1938 to 31st March 1939) and for the calendar year (1st January to 31st December 1939). However, the reports for 1940 and 1941 have been found hidden away in the old Colonial Office files, albeit in some disorder. We are pleased to be able to reproduce these for the first time ever.
The Colonial Office had doubts about the necessity of these reports and argued for the discontinuance of them in a letter to the Foreign Office dated 23rd February 1943. No mandate reports in the old format were ever again to be written. For the remaining period of the Mandate up to May 1948, we are therefore reproducing the annual departmental reports on which the mandate reports would have been based, had they been written.
At the end of the Second World War, the Government of Palestine felt the necessity of bringing the record up to date. Accordingly, in December 1945 and January 1946 they produced the two-volume Survey of Palestine which provided an authoritative record of the administration of Palestine for the war years (and this was presented to the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry). This work had a very limited circulation; a third and fourth volume were also produced, to bring the record beyond January 1946, and these two further volumes had an even more limited circulation.
We are also including in this set various historical memoranda produced by the Palestine and British Governments for the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, giving an overall view of the mandate period.
The first document reproduced is Allenby´s instructions on the military government of Palestine at the beginning of British rule; it is fitting that the very last document reproduced should be the dispatch describing the final departure of the British High Commissioner, marking the end of the British administration of Palestine.


Volume 1, 1918-1924
  • Military Government Reports, 1918-1920
  • Pre-Mandate Palestine Civil Government Administration Reports, 1920-1923
  • White Papers and Reports to the League of Nations, 1923-1938
Volume 2, 1925-1928
  • Report of the High Commissioner, 1920-1925
  • Mandate Reports of 1925 to 1928
  • Report on the Economic and Financial Situation, 1927
Volume 3, 1929-1931
  • Mandate Reports for 1929 to 1931
  • Report on Economic Conditions 1931
Volume 4, 1932-1933
  • Mandate Reports for 1932 and 1933
Volume 5, 1934-1935
  • Mandate Reports for 1934 and 1935
  • Report on Economic Conditions 1935
Volume 6, 1936
  • Mandate Report for 1936
  • Report of the Peel Royal Commission 1936/7
Volume 7, 1937-1938
  • Mandate Reports for 1937 and 1938
Volume 8, 1939
  • White Paper entitled ´Palestine: Statement of Policy´
  • Correspondence relative to the 1939 Mandate Report

Volume 9, 1940-1941/2
  • The unpublished Mandate Reports for 1940 and 1941Palestine and Transjordan Departmental Annual Reports for 1941/2
Volume 10, 1943
  • Palestine and Transjordan Departmental Annual Reports 1943 and 1943/4
Volume 11, 1944-1945
  • Palestine Departmental Annual Reports for 1944
  • Palestine and Transjordan Departmental Annual Reports for 1944/5
  • Palestine Departmental Annual Reports for 1945
Volume 12, 1946/7
  • Survey of Palestine: volume one
Volume 13, 1946/7
  • Survey of Palestine: volume two and the unpublished third volume
Volume 14, 1945/6
  • Palestine Departmental Annual Reports for 1945/6 and 1946
Volume 15, 1946/7-1947
  • Palestine Departmental Annual Reports for 1946/7 and 1947
  • Historical Memoranda from 1947
  • Survey of Palestine: unpublished fourth volume
Volume 16, 1947/8-1948
  • Palestine Departmental Annual Reports for 1947/8
  • Palestine and Transjordan Departmental Annual Reports 1938/9 Final Papers regarding the withdrawal of the British from Palestine
  • Palestine and Transjordan Departmental Annual Reports 1939 and the termination of the Mandate


Some official statements

British Government White Paper, June 1922

"...the terms of the [Balfour] Declaration referred to do not contemplate that Palestine as a whole should be converted into a Jewish National Home, but that such a Home should be founded in Palestine . "

British Government White Paper, October 1930

"...a double undertaking is involved, to the Jewish people on the one hand and to the non-Jewish population of Palestine on the other."

Report of Royal Commission on the operation of the Mandate, June 1937

"...we cannot - in Palestine as it is now - both concede the Arab claim to self-government and secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home."  

British Government statement in House of Commons, 18 February 1947

"...the Mandate has proved to be unworkable in practice, and the obligations undertaken to the two communities in Palestine have been shown to be irreconcilable."