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Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem

Chapter One


In 1516 the Ottoman Turks conquered Palestine, and the country was incorporated in the dominions of the Ottoman Empire. Local governors were appointed from Constantinople, to which annual revenues were sent. Various public works were undertaken in Palestine, such as the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1537. Palestine remained under Turkish rule until World War I.

In the early sixteenth century, northern Palestine, as far south as Acre, was temporarily included in the Druse state established by Fakhr ud-Din and set up in defiance of Ottoman authority, but the new state did not last long.

Toward the close of the 18th century Napoleon undertook a campaign in Palestine, capturing Jaffa, Ramle, Lydda, Nazareth and Tiberias in 1798, but his siege of Acre was unsuccessful.

In 1831 Mehemet Ali of Egypt intervened in Palestine. Under his son Ibrahim Pasha, Egyptian troops captured Acre, but in 1834 the Palestinians revolted against the Egyptians. By 1840 the Ottoman authority was fully reestablished in Palestine, and the Palestinians played an active role in encouraging the political reforms in the Ottoman Empire of 1876 and 1908.

The territory of Palestine under Ottoman rule was composed of two areas. The independent Sanjak (district) of Jerusalem was subject to the High Porte in Constantinople. This Sanjak extended from Jaffa to the River Jordan in the East and from the Jordan south to the borders of Egypt. The other area was part of the Willayat (province) of Beirut. This part was composed of the Sanjak of Balka (Nablus) from Jaffa to Jenin, and the Sanjak of Acre, which extended from Jenin to Naqura.

His Eminence the late Haj Amin Effendi El Husseini, on behalf of the Arab Higher Committee for Palestine, testified on the 12th of January, 1937, before the Palestine Royal Commission sent by the British Mandatory Power. He explained the position of the Arabs under the Ottoman rule as follows:

Under the Ottoman Regime the Arabs formed an important part of the structure of the Ottoman Empire. It is wrong to say that the Arabs were under the yoke of the Turks and that their uprising and the assistance which was rendered to them during the Great War were merely intended to relieve them from such yoke. The fact is that under the Ottoman Constitution they enjoyed all rights and privileges, political or otherwise, on an equal basis with the Turks, as the Ottoman Constitution provided for one form of government of all Ottoman territories and elements. The Arabs had a complete share with the Turks in all organs of the State, civil as well as military. There were Arabs who held the high office of Prime Minister and Ministers, Commanders of Divisions and Ambassadors....There were Arab ambassadors, provincial and district governors. There was also a large number of Arab Deputies in both Houses of the Ottoman Parliament, in proportion to their numbers as prescribed under the Ottoman Constitution....There were two Parliaments, two Constitutions. One was made in the early days of the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid, in 1876, and the other was made after the grant of the Constitution in 1908. ..but even in the Parliament under the first Constitution there were Arab representatives. In the first Parliament, you find the President of the Council of the House of Representatives was a Deputy from Jerusalem, Yusif Dia Pasha Al Khalidi. Moreover, the administration of Arab territories was entrusted to elected Administrative Councils. Those Councils were elected and existed in the provinces, districts, and sub-districts. Those Councils were vested with extensive powers in all matters relating to administration, finance, education, and development, but, irrespective of all this, the Arabs were aspiring to the attainment of complete national independence and the regaining of the distinguished position which the Arab peoples had held in the past centuries, when the Arab peoples made the greatest contribution to civilization and to every phase of human activity.(1)

In its report dated July 1937, the Palestine Royal Commission dealt with the situation of Palestine under Turkish rule. It stated:


Turkish government in Palestine before the Great War was in effect a despotism, modified to some extent by the delegation of authority to the leading families in Syria who held estates in Palestine. The head of the Administration was the Vali in Beirut, Jerusalem being an independent Sanjak just north of Jaffa: the remainder of what is now Palestine was included in the willayat of Beirut -in the Sanjaks of Beirut, Acre and Balka (Nablus). Each Sanjak was divided into Qadas (Districts), the latter combining several Nahias (village or combination of small villages). Each of these administrative units had its own Council and posse of executive officials, as, for example, the Kaimakam in the Qada, appointed by the Turkish Government, but responsible to the Mutasamf or Chief Executive Officer of the Sanjak. In the case of Jerusalem the latter was in direct touch with Constantinople. These Executive Officers in all the higher grades formed a distinctive Turkish bureaucracy. Turkish was the official language.

As a result of the revolution in 1908, an Ottoman Parliament was created consisting of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies, the latter being elected by an electoral college on the basis of one Deputy for every 50,000 male subjects. The number of Deputies elected from the territory which is now Palestine was six. The unit for the primary election was the Nahia, that is, a village of over 200 houses, or a collection of villages with that population. It is interesting to note that communal representation was recognized in the Nahia Councils and in their "Council of Elders." The Imam (Moslem priest) and representatives of the non-Moslem religious communities were ex officio members of the latter. The President was the Mudir appointed by the Vali or Governor of the Wilayat. The administrative officers of these village Councils were known as Mukhtars and were elected by the same persons as were entitled to elect the Council of Elders. Every village had one Mukhtar, but if a village consisted of more than one quarter or ward or contained more than one community with the qualifying number of houses, it had one Mukhtar for each quarter or community. This office of village headman has survived, and today forms the chief point of contact between the officials and the countryside. The functions of the Council of the Nahia were the preservation of peace, collection of taxes and maintenance of public accounts. The Council of Elders wasexpected to supervise expenditure, the apportionment of taxation and the settlement of disputes, including communal disputes, and to report cases of persons who died leaving property and absent heirs, or land going out of cultivation. Under the Ottoman Government a Court of First Instance, composed of three Judges, was established in each Qada or Kaza, with a Court of Appeal composed of five or more Members in each Sanjak. In Palestine there were, therefore, 13 Courts of First Instance and three Courts of Appeal. The predilection for boards or committees, and the multiplicity of officials is noticeable. There were in addition single Judges or Justices of the Peace in the principal towns. Thus there were numerous Courts throughout Palestine, with numbers of Judges, whose salaries were by no means commensurate with their responsibilities.(2)


There were four elections for the Ottoman Parliament, held in 1896, 1908, 1912, and 114. The deputies who represented Palestine in the Ottoman Parliament were as follows:

In 1896, Yusif Dia Pasha Al Khalidi represented Jerusalem. In 1908, five deputies represented the areas included in Palestine: Ruhi Al Khalidi, representing Jerusalem; Saeed El Husseini, representing Jerusalem; Hafez Al Saeed, representing Jaffa; Al Sheikh Ahmad Al Khamash, repre- senting Nablus; and Al Sheikh Assad Al Shukeiri, representing Acre. In 1912, there were also five deputies representing Palestine. They were Ruhi Al Khalidi, representing Jerusalem; Othman Nashashibi, representing Jerusalem; Ahmad Arif El Husseini, representing Gaza; Haidar Tuqan, representing Nablus; and Al Sheikh Assad Al Shukeiri, representing Acre. In 1914, six deputies represented Palestine. They were Ragheb Nashashibi, representing Jerusalem; Saeed Al Husseini, representing Jerusalem; Faidi Al Alami, representing Jerusalem; Tawfic Hamad, representing Nablus; Amin Abdul Hadi, representing Nablus; and Abdul Fatah Al Saadi, representing Acre.(3)


Paragraph 4 of Article XXII of the League of Nations Covenant recognized the people of Palestine as a "provisionally independent nation." It stated:

Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as an independent nation can be provisionally recognized subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory.

Palestine was placed under Class A Mandate. Professor Quincy Wright described communities under Class A mandates as being very close to sovereignty.(4) The Earl of Birkenhead described territories under Class A mandates as "protected states."(5) He stated: "The status of Palestine and Syria resembles very closely that of states under suzerainty."(6)


The boundaries of Palestine under the British Mandate were defined in an agreement between Great Britain and France. When Palestine was placed under the British Mandate in 1923, the area and topography of Palestine were defined as follows:

The total land area of Palestine is estimated at 26,320 square kms., or 10, 162 square miles. In addition there is an inland water area of 704 square kms. or 272 square miles, comprising Lake Huleh, Lake Tiberias and one half of the Dead Sea. The total area of the country is thus 27,024 square kms. or 10,434 square miles.

Geographically, the country may be divided into seven regions:

(a) The maritime plain, extending north from the Egyptian frontier and terminating at Mount Carmel, just south of Haifa. The northern section of this plain is often called the Plain of Sharon.

(b) The coastal plain of Acre extending from Carmel north to the promontory of Ras en Naqura.

(c) A broad plain running southeast from Haifa to the Jordan Valley. The western portion of this plain is the Plain of Esdraelon. The eastern section is known as the Valley Jezreel.

(d) The central range comprising the hills of Judaea and Samaria. The southeastern portion of the Judean hills, falling away to the Dead Sea, is described as the Wilderness of Judaea. The highest points in the Judean and Samaria hills respectively are Tell Asur (1,016 m.; 3,333 ft.) and Mount Ebal(940 m.; 3,084 ft.).

(e) The hills of Galilee, comprising the whole of the north of Palestine except the narrow plain of Acre and the Jordan valley. The highest point is on the Jebel Jarmak (1,208 m.; 3,963 ft.), the highest mountain in Palestine. In the same area is the Jebel Adathir (1,006 m.; 3,301 ft.).

(f) The Jordan Valley, extending from the Syrian frontier to the Dead Sea. The northernmost section is often considered separately as the Huleh basin.

(g) The district of Beersheba, an immense triangle with its apex at the gulf of Aqaba which contains nearly half the land of Palestine (approximately 12,576 square krns.).

Lake Huleh, with an area of 14 square krns., is 70 m. (230 ft.) above mean sea level; Lake Tiberias, with an area of 165 square krns., is 209 m. (686 ft.) below mean sea level: the Dead Sea, with a total area of 1,050 square krns., is 392 m. (1,286 ft.) below mean sea level. The length of the Dead Sea is 82 kms. and its breadth 17 krns.; its maximum depth is 399 m. (1,3 10 ft.); it has no outlet, its surplus being carried off by evaporation.

The total length of the River Jordan from its source near Banias in the extreme northeasterly tip of Palestine to the Dead Sea is 252 kms. (157 miles): North of Lake Huleh, 14 krns; through Lake Huleh, 5 krns.; from Lake Huleh to Lake Tiberias 18 krns.; in the course of which it drops 279 m. (915 ft.); through Lake Tiberias 21 kms., and from Lake Tiberias to the Dead Sea, 194 kms. The Yarmuk, which enters the Jordan near Jisr el Majarni', a few kilometres south of Lake Tiberias, is 40 kms. long, of which only 17 kms. are in Palestine. The Qishon (otherwise Muqatta) which enters the Bay of Acre a short distance east of Haifa is 13 kms. long. The Auja (otherwise Yarkon), which enters the Mediter- ranean at Tel Aviv, is 26 kms. long.

Administratively, the country is divided into six districts, which in turn are divided into sixteen sub-districts. Their land areas are (in square Kms):

District Sq.Kms.   Headqtrs. Subdistricts Sq.Kms.
Gaza 13,689   Gaza Gaza 1, 113
Beersheba 12,576
Lydda 1,206   Jaffa Jaffa 336
Ramle 370
Jerusalem 4,334   Jerusalem Jerusalem 1,571
Hebron 2,076
Ramallah 687
Samaria 3,266   Nablus Nablus 1,637
Jenin 839
Tulkarm 790
Haifa 1,021   Haifa Haifa 1,021
Galilee 2,804   Nazareth Nazareth 499
Acre 810
Beisan 361
Safad 695
Tiberias 439


Of the total land area, urban areas account for 147 square krns.; built on areas for 79 square krns.; and roads, railways, rivers and lakes for 136 square kms. The Huleh concession area (in the Safad sub-district) is approximately 57 square kms. Over 10,000 square kms. in the Beersheba district are classified as uncultivable.(7)


In 1914 the population of Palestine was estimated to be 689,546: 634, 133 Muslim and Christian Arabs; 55,413 Jews. The Government of Palestine held the first census in Palestine in 1922. The Report and General Abstracts of the Census of 1922 taken on the 23rd of October, 1922, gave estimates of the population for 1920 and 192 1 and the result of the census of 1922 as follows:


Religions 1920 1921 1922
Muslims 521,403 585,271 590,890
Jews 66,574 81,263 83,794
Christians 77,801 88,049 73,024
Others 7,415 7,213 9,474
TOTAL 673, 193 761,796 757, 182

In 1947 the Government of Palestine submitted an estimate of the population of Palestine in 1946 to the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine. It stated on page 11 of the Supplement to the Survey of Palestine that at the end of 1946 the estimated population of Palestine was as follows:


    Settled Population   Total Population
Arabs (Muslims & Christians)   1,203,000   1,269,000
Jews   608,000   608,000
Others   35,000   35,000
TOTAL   1,846,000   1,912,000


The Palestine Government did not hold a census in Palestine after 1931. Taking the population figures for the year 1931 as a base, we estimated what the population in every town and village in Palestine would have been in 1948 according to the percentage of the increase of the population calculated by the Government of Palestine in 1931 to be 30.7 1 per thousand.

The estimates of the population for 1948 were as follows:

By District
Total Population
Arab Pop.
Arab Pop.
Southern District      
Gaza Sub-District 94,634 94,213 157,555
Beersheba Sub-District 51, 111 51,094 85,446
Jaffa Sub-District 145,502 75,713 126,617
Ramle Sub-District 70,579 62.083 103.823
Total Southern District 361,826 283, 103 473,441
Jerusalem District      
Hebron Sub-District 67,631 67,496 112,875
Bethlehem Sub-District 23,725 23,683 39,606
Jerusalem Sub-District 132,66 1 78, 123 130,647<
Jericho Sub-District 3,483 3,240 5,418
Ramallah Sub-District 39.062 39.061 65,323
Total Jerusalem District 266.562 211,603 353,869
Northern District      
Tulkann Sub-District 46,328 45,662 76,362
Nablus Sub-District 68,706 68,696 114,882
Jenin Sub-District 41,411 4 1,407 69,246
Nazareth Sub-District 28,592 25,420 42,510
Beisan Sub-District 15, 123 13, 173 22,030
Tiberias Sub-District 26,975 19, 190 32,092
Haifa Sub-District 95,472 72, 105 120,583
Acre Sub-District 45, 142 44,846 74,997
Safad Sub-District 39,713 36.035 60,262
Total Northern District 407,462 366,534 612,964
TOTAL PALESTINE 1,035,850 861,240 1,440,274


An estimate of the Jewish population in Palestine in 1945 was as follows(8):

Palestine citizens 247,000
Persons eligible for naturalization 158,000
Persons not eligible for naturalization 27,2000
Illegal immigrants 121,,300
Total 553,500


According to Israeli statistics published in 1983, the number of Jews in Palestine in 1948 was 716,000, of whom 253,700 were born in Plaestine and 463,000 born outside Palestine(9). therefore, the Jews in Palestine in 1948 were as follows: 253,700 born in Palestine; 247,000 naturalized citizens. The total number of Jews who were citizens in Palestine either by birth or naturalization was 500,700;

This means that the population of Palestine in 1948 was composed of 1,440,000 Christian and Muslim Arabs who were indigenous Palestinian citizens; 253,700 Jews who were indigenous citizens; 247,000 naturalized Jewish immigrants; and 216,000 Jews who were illegal immigrants.

The Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestine Question in the United Nations appointed two subcommittees. Subcommittee 2 stated in its report to the United Nations General Assembly(10):

It is also interesting to examine the distribution of Arab and Jewish populations in the proposed Jewish State according to the administrative subdivisions shown in appendix 2. Ten sub-districts, in whole or in part, are incorporated in the proposed Jewish State. In nineof these sub-districts, the Arabs have a clear majority over the Jews. Only in one sub-district, namely, Jaffa, have the Jews a majority over the Arabs. This is due to the heavy concentration of Jews in the urban area of Tel Aviv.

This is further reinforced by statistics furnished to the Subcommittee by the United Kingdom representative, showing the percentage of Arabs and Jews in the populations of the various sub-districts of Palestine.(11) The statistics are reproduced below:

Percentage of total

Percentage of total population
Sub-District Arabs & Others Jews
Safad 87 13
Acre 96 4
Tiberias 67 33
Beisan 70 30
Nazareth 84 16
Haifa 53 47
Jenin 100 -
Nablus 100 -
Tulkarm 83 17
Ramallah 100 -
Jerusalem 62 38
Hebron 99 Less than 1
Jaffa 29 71
Ramle 78 22
Gaza 98 2
Beersheba 99 Less than 1



The organic law establishing the constitution of Palestine is the Palestine Orders in Council 1922-1940 made in pur- suance of powers conferred by the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1890, of the United Kingdom and other powers enabling His Majesty in that behalf. The initial Order-in-Council of 1922 came into force on the 1 st September, 1922. The Order-in- Council entrusts the administration of the country to a High Commissioner. The system of Government is as prescribed by these Orders which make provisions regarding, inter alia, the powers and responsibilities of the High Commissioner, the Executive, the Legislative and Judicial system, the safeguarding of the civil rights of citizens and foreigners and the physical boundaries of Palestine.(12)

The highest officer of the Administration was the High Commissioner who was appointed by the King of England. The High Commissioner reported to the Secretary of State for the Colonies of the United Kingdom who was responsible to the British House of Commons. The High Commissioner was assisted by an executive council and by an advisory council. Members of both councils were British officials.

In 1947, the members of the Executive Council and the Advisory Council were composed as follows(13):


His Excellency The High Commissioner

Sir Henry Love11 Goldsworthy Gurney, C.M.G., Chief Secretary
Leslie Bertram Gibson, K.C., Attorney General
Duncan George Stewart, Financial Secretary
James Huey Hamill Pollock, C.M.G., O.B.E., District Commissioner, JerusalemDistrict
Kenneth Gordon Lindsay, O.B.E., Civil Service Commissioner
John Bellasis Pruen, Clerk to the Executive Council


His Excellency The High Commissioner
Chief Secretary
Financial Secretary
Civil Service Commissioner
Inspector-General of Police
Director of Medical Services
Director of Public Works
Director of Education
Director of Agriculture and Fisheries
Director of Customs and Excise
General Manager, Railways
District Commissioner, Jerusalem District
District Commissioner, Haifa District
District Commissioner, Galilee District
District Commissioner, Lydda District
District Commissioner, Samaria District
District Commissioner, Gaza District
Commissioner for Commerce and Industry
Postmaster General
Director of Land Settlement
Director, Department of Labour
Director of Social Welfare
John Bellasis Pruen, Clerk to the Advisory Council

The Chief Secretary was the principal executive officer of the government. Through his office, coordination of the manifold activities of the government was effected. He reported to the High Commissioner.

The functions of the Government were organized on a departmental basis. The departments were headed by direc- tors who were British, as were many of their assistants. Some were Arabs and Jews. The departments were as follows:

Department of the Administrative General, Agriculture and Fisheries, Antiquities, Audit, Broadcasting, Civil Aviation, Commerce and Industry, Cooperative Societies, Customs and Excise, District Administration, Education, Forests, Health, Immigration, Income Tax, Irrigation Services, Judi- cial, Labour, Land Registration, Land Settlement, Police, Ports, Posts and Telegraphs, Press Censorship, Printing and Stationery, Prisons, Public Information, Public Works, Railways, Social Welfare, Statistics, Surveys, Town Planning, Veterinary Services.

The country was divided into six districts and sixteen subdistricts. The chief government officer for each district was the district commissioner, and for each subdistrict the assistant district commissioner was assisted by district officers.

The following table shows the number of British, Arab, and Jewish high officers in the governmental departments. The total was as follows: 556 British, 309 Arabs and 177 Jews.(14)

Department British Arabs Jews
Administrative 65 37 34
Agriculture & Fisheries 10 5 6
Antiquities 5 2 4
Audit 7 2 2
Broadcasting 5 5 5
Commerce & Industry 3 - 1
Cooperative Societies 2 - 2
Customs & Excise 7 6 -
District Administration 42 30 14
Education 3 45 10
Forests 5 - 1
Health 55 65 24
Income Tax 4 6 4
Judicial 13 36 13
Labour 8 - -
Land Registration 3 4 -
Land Settlement & Irrigation 14 7 4
Legal 9 4 3
Migration 4 1 3
Muslim Religious Courts - 20 -
Officers Seconded from Palestine to Transjordan 12 -  
Police 105 13 4
Posts & Telegraphs 20 2 4
Prisons 10 - -
Public Works 20 5 14
Railways 47 1 2
Secretariat 26 5 3
Public Information Office 4 - -
Government Printing 3 - -
Civil Aviation 8 - 5
Social Welfare 7 1 1
Supreme Muslim Council - 4  
Surveys 4 - 3
Town Planning 2 - -
Veterinary Services 7 1 5
Controller of Foreign Exchange 17 2 3
TOTAL 556 309 177

The total number of government officials was 44,688 persons, of whom 4,314 were British, 30, 178 Arabs, 9,276 Jews, and 920 others. The following is a summary of a table published by the Government of Palestine in 1947(15):

The Government of Palestine is the largest employer in the country, followed closely by the Military Authorities. Government and the Military Authorities employ together something in the region of 80,000 persons.

The following table, showing the position in December, 1945, the last date for which detailed figures are available, sets out the main categories of persons employed by Government and their aggregate earnings:


Type of Employees
No. of Arabs
No. of Jews
No. of British
Administrative, clerical and technical
% of total
Police Force, other ranks
% of total
Casual labour
% of total
30, 178
% of total

Arab employees constituted 67.5 percent of all employees and received 58.4 percent of total emoluments. Jews comprised 20.7 percent of total, but received 23.8 percent of emoluments. British personnel comprised 9.7 percent of total and received 15.6 percent of total emoluments.


Article 3 of the Mandate instructed that "the Mandatory shall, so far as circumstances permit, encourage local autonomy."

At the time of the British occupation of Palestine in 1917 there were twenty-two municipalities in existence; these had been established under the Ottoman municipal law of 1877. In practice the Turkish Governors interfered directly in municipal affairs; the municipal councils were little more than ciphers and it was not until the British occupation that they began to develop their responsibilities in the administra- tion of local affairs. They continued, however, to operate under Turkish law until the Municipal Corporations Or-dinance was enacted in 1934. The only new municipal councils to be established since Turkish times are those of Tel Aviv (1934) and Petah Tiqva (1937).

In the rural areas also the Turks had provided in law for a system of local government (the willayat Law of 1864) but, as in the municipal areas, the administration of local affairs, in so far as it existed at all, was in practice carried out by the direct representatives of the central Government. In every village, or community of a village, the central Government was represented by a mukhtar. In theory the village elders co-operated with the mukhtar in the administration of village affairs through a village council, but normally the mukhtar monopolized all local functions. With a view to the creation of local bodies of a more representative nature, a Local Councils Ordinance was enacted by the British Administration in 1921. Under this Ordinance some twenty local coun- cils were established in the next few years both in Arab villages and in Jewish settlements. This Ordinance and its successor of 1941 have proved to be useful vehicles for the development of autonomy in the Jewish areas; on the other hand they have shown to be not altogether suitable for application to Arab rural communities, and the Royal Commis- sion of 1936, on page 347 of their report, criticised the position on the following grounds: "first, in a lack of flexibility it is asking too much to attempt to compress progressive townships and backward villages within the limits of a single legal framework and, secondly, in undue centralization and artificiality, in that sufficient use has not been made of such inherent self-governing impulses and institutions as the people possess." A committee was therefore appointed in 1940 to consider and to recommend what steps should be taken to ensure the exercise of a proper measure of village responsibility. This committee recommended in their report that, in addition to the Local Councils Ordinance, there should be separate legislation of greater flexibility more suitable of application to the more backward of the rural communities. This led to the enactment in 1944 of the Village Administration Ordinance. A number of village councils have been set up under this Ordinance during 1945, but it is as yet too early to judge of its suitability for the purpose intended.

Thus, the functions of local government are today exercised by municipal councils, local councils and village councils under the authority contained in the Municipal Corporations Ordinance, 1934, the Local Councils Ordinance, 1941, and the Village Administration Ordinance, 1944, respectively. Generally speaking the municipal councils are established in the intensively urban areas, the local councils in the smaller townships where development is not of a predominantly urban nature and the village councils in areas which are exclusively rural. Owing to historical circumstances, however, a number of the Arab local authorities have the status of municipal council although in size and degree of development they are inferior to several of the larger Jewish local councils; similarly, a number of the Arab local councils which were established before the enactment of the Village Administration Ordinance are comparable in size and nature to those villages in which village councils have recently been created.(16)

The number of local authorities of each type and the racial composition in 1947 were as follows(17):

Type Arab Jewish Mixed Total
Municipal councils 18 2 4 24
Local councils 11 26 1 38
Village councils 40 -- -- -40
TOTAL 69 28 5 102


The following is a complete list of these local authorities, by Districts, indicating the population which each serves(18):


District Name of Council Arab, Jewish or mixed Population 1944
34, 170
Khan Yunis
1 1,220
94,3 10
Petah Tiqva
15, 160
Tel Aviv
Beit Jala
Shafa 'Amr
5, 180


Between 1st January, 1946 and 1st April, 1947, elections were held in 15 out of the 24 municipal corporations. With the exception of Jerusalem the remainder of the municipal corporations are preparing to hold elections. Municipal commissions still exist in the mixed towns of Jerusalem, Haifa, Tiberias and Safad. The postponement of elections in Jerusalem, was due to the fact that the municipal administration of the capital was made the subject of an enquiry by the Chief Justice, Sir William Fitzgerald, whose report was pub- lished on the 18th December, 1946. Before deciding what action should be taken on this report it is intended that it shall be studied by an expert in local government who will also review the present structure of local government in Palestine as a whole. In the circumstances it was decided to defer the Jerusalem Municipal elections.


Name of Council
Arab, Jewish or mixed
Population 1944
Bat Yam
Benei Beraq
Kefar Sava
1, 100
Petah Tiqva (rural)
Ramat Gan
Rishon le Zion
8, 100
Beit Sahur
El Bira
Ezor Ephraim
Ezor Hakishon
Kefar 'Atta
Kiryat Motzkin
3, 120
Emek Hefer
Kfar Yona
El Bassa
Ezor Israel
2, 100
Ezor Hahalal
3, 168
Kafr Yasif


District Name of
Council Area
Name of Mayor or Chairman
of Municipal Council
Gaza Beersheba Sheikh Taj-ed-din Eff. Sha'ath (Arab)
  Gaza Rushdi Eff. Shawwa (Arab)
Khan Yunis Abdul Rahman Eff. er Farra (Arab)
Majdal Yusif Eff. Sharif (Arab)
Lydda Jaffa Lydda Dr. Yusef Haikal (Arab) Izzat Eff. Karzoun (Arab)
Petah Tiqva Mr. Joseph Saphir, M.B.E. (Jew)
Ramle Sheikh Mustafa Eff. el Khairi, O.B.E.
(Arab) Tel Aviv Mr. Israel Rokach, C.B.E. (Jew)
Jerusalem Beit Jala Wadi' Eff. Di'mes (Arab)
Bethlehem Hanna Eff. 'Isa Qawwas (Arab)
Hebron Sheikh Muhammad 'Ali Eff. el Ja'bari
Jerusalem Mr. G. H. Webster, C.M.G., O.B.E.
Ramallah Yusef Eff. Qaddura (Arab)
Haifa Haifa Mr. Shabtai Levy, O.B.E. (Jew)
Shafa 'Amr Jabbour Eff. Yusef Jabbour (Arab)
Samaria Jenin Tahsin Eff. Abdul Hadi (Arab)
Nablus Suleiman Bey Toukan, C.B.E. (Arab)
Tulkarm Hashem Eff. Jayousi (Arab)
Galilee Acre Husni Eff. Khalifa (Arab)
Beisan The District Officer, Beisan (Arab)
Nazareth Salim Eff. Bishara, M.B.E. (Arab)
Safad Zaki Eff. Qaddura (Arab)
Tiberias Mr. Shimon Dahan (Jew)
District Name of
Council area
Name of President of Local Council
Local Councils
Gaza Faluja Sheikh Muhammad Eff. Awwad (Arab)
Lydda Bat Yam Mr. Eliav Livay (Jew)
Benei Beraq Mr. Yitshaq Gershtenkom (Jew)
Giv'atayim Mr. Shimon Ben-Zvi (Jew)
Herzliya Holon Mr. Ben-Zion Michaeli (Jew) Dr. H. Kugel (Jew)
Kafr Saba Mr. Abraham Keren (Jew)
Magdiel Mr. Shmuel Zochowitzky (Jew)

Petah Tiqva (rural)

Mr. Peretz Pascal (Jew)
Ra'anana Mr. Baruch Ostrovsky (Jew)
Ramat Gan Mr. Abraham Krinitzi (Jew)
Rehovot Mr. Ben-Zion Horowitz (Acting) (Jew)
Rishon le Zion Mr. Zeruhavel Haviv (Jew)
Sarona Mr. Gotthilf Wagner, M.B.E. (Acting) (German)
Jerusalem Beit Sahur Hanna Eff. Bannura (Arab)
El Bira Abdallah Eff. Juda (Arab)
Jericho Sabri Eff. Khalaf (Arab)
Haifa Hadera Mr. David Berman (Jew)
Karkur Mr. Moshe Linbitz (Acting) (Jew)
Kiryat Motzkin Mr. Leib Gurshkevitz (Jew)
Kefar 'Atta Dr. Erich Boehm (Jew)
Ezor Hakishon Mr. Shmuel Stemberg (Jew)
Ezor Ephraim Mr. Abraham Fein (Jew)
Yoqneam Mr. Fritz Loewinger (Jew)
Samaria 'Anabta Rafiq Eff. Hamdallah (Arab)
Emek Hefer Mr. Aharon Braverman (Jew)
Kfar Yona Mr. Zvi Preiss (Jew)
Natanya Mr. Oved Ben Ammi (Jew)
Qalqiliya 'Abd el Rahim Eff. Sabie (Arab)
Galilee 'Afula Mr. Yoseph Barzilai (Jew)
El Bassa Tewfik Eff. Jubran (Arab)
Ezor Israel Mr. Elyahu Carmieli (Jew)
Ezor Nahalal Mr. Akiva Goldstein (Jew)
Kafr Yasif Yanni Eff. Costandi Yanni, B.E.M. (Arab)
Nahariya Dr. Kahn (Jew)
Saffuriya Sheikh Saleh Salim Muhammad, B.E.M. (Arab)
Samakh Yusef Eff. Salim Tur'ani (Arab)
Tarshiba Taqi-ed-din Eff. Agha (Arab)


The following is a complete list of village councils as of 1st April, 1947(20):

District Name of Council Arab or Jewish ArabPopulation 1944
Jerusalem Abu Dis Arab 1,940
  Beituniya Arab 1,490
  Bir Zeit Arab 1,560
  Deir Dibwan Arab 2,080
  'Ein Karem Arab 3, 180
  El Khadr Arab 1, 130
  El Maliha Arab 1,940
  Silwad Arab 1,910
  Sinjil Arab 1,320
Samaria Baqa el Gharbiya Arab 2,240
  Et Taiyiba Arab 4,290
  Et Tira Arab 3, 180
  'Illar Arab 1,450
  Jalama Arab 460
  Salfit Arab 1,830
  Tubas Arab 5,530
Galilee & Acre El Buqei'a Arab 990
  El Khalisa Arab 1,840
  Ez Zib Arab 1,910
  Fir 'im Arab 740
  Jish Arab 1,090
  Kafr Kanna Arab 1,930
  Kafr Manda Arab 1,260
  El Mujeidil Arab 1,900
  Rama, Er Arab 1,690
  Rima, Er Arab 1,290
  Tur 'an Arab 1,350
  Yafa Arab 1,070
Lydda Beit Nabala Arab 2,310
  El Yahudiya Arab 5,650
  Yibna Arab 5,420
Haifa I'billin Arab 1,660
  'Isfiya Arab 1,790
  Tira, Et Arab 5,270
Gaza Masmiya El Kabira Arab 2,520
  Bani Suheila Arab 3,220
  Deir El Balah Arab 2,560
  Hamama Arab 5,000
  Isdud Arab 4,620
  Jabaliya arab 3,520



1. Notes of Evidence Taken from the Palestine Royal Commission on Tuesday, 12th Januaiy, 1937, published by the British Govemment, pp. 292-293.
2. The Report of the Palestine Royal Commission, July 1937 (British Command Paper No. 5479) (London: H. M* Stationery
1st April, 194'720: Office, 1937), pp. 110-111.
3. Omar Saleh Al Barguthi, The History of Palestine (Jerusalem Press, 1923), p. 271, and Bayan Nuweheid Al Hut, The Political Leaders and Political Organization in Palestine 1917-48 (Institute for Palestine Studies, 1981), p. 846. 1944
4. Quincy Wright, "Sovereignty of the Mandates," American Journal of International Law, 1923, volume 17, p. 696.
5. Earl of Birkenhead, International Law, 6th edition, p. 69.
6. Ibid., p. 40.
7. A Survey of Palestine, Prepared in December 1945 and January 1946 for the Information of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry (Jerusalem: Palestine Government Printer, 1946), volume 1, pp. 103-105.
8. Statistical Handbook of Jewish Palestine 1947 (Jerusalem: Department of Statistics of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, 1947), p. 55.
9. Statistical Abstract of Israel 1983 (Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, 1983), No. 34, p. 71.
10. Official Records of the Second Session of the General Assembly Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestine Question, Summary Records of Meetings, 15 September-25 November, 1947, p. 292.
11. Ibid.
12. Survey of Palestine, volume 1, p. 108.
13. Palestine Government Staff List as of the 1st of April, 1947
(Jerusalem: Palestine Government Printer, 1947). p. 5.
14. Ibid., pp. 1-55.
15. Supplement to Survey of Palestine, Notes Compiled for the Information of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (Jerusalem: Palestine Government Printer, 1947), p. 89.
16. Survey of Palestine, volume 1, pp. 128- 129.
17. Supplement to Survey of Palestine, p. 5.
18. Survey of Palestine, volume 1, pp. 128-129.
19. Ibid., volume 3, pp. 1370-1371.
20. Supplement to Survey of Palestine, pp. 5-6.






Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem
By Issa Nakhleh

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