Palestine Mandate (December 1919 draft)

Draft of the Mandate for Palestine provisionally agreed upon between Zionist Organisation and British Delegation, 11 December 1919  (1919) 

Final draft, of 1922, at Palestine Mandate
Source: Great Britain Foreign Office; Woodward, Ernest Llewellyn (1952). Documents on British Foreign Policy, 1919-1939, Volume IV. H.M. Stationery Office. p. 571-577. 

Draft Mandate for Palestine, 11 December 1919Edit

The High Contracting Parties:

Recognising the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and the claim which this gives them to reconstitute Palestine as their national home (Erez Israel);

Associating themselves accordingly with the Declaration originally made by the British Government and assented to by the other Allied and Asso­ciated Powers in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may 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;

Considering that this object can best be secured by the administration, for as long as may be necessary, of Palestine, by a State member of the League of Nations; Have agreed upon the following provisions:


The boundaries of Palestine are defined in Annex I to this Convention. [Not annexed to filed copy] A Commission representing the Governments of. . . . shall be appointed at once to trace these boundaries on the spot. (N.B. The Zionist Organisation are particularly anxious to be repre­sented on the Boundary Commission even though this Commission will only be concerned with details of boundary, especially if an Arab State has a representative on the Commission.)


The High Contracting Parties, (considering) that. . . . should be the Power selected to conduct the administration of Palestine and to secure the observance of the provisions of this convention, hereby confer upon… a mandate to that end, including the right to exercise as such mandatory all the powers inherent in the Government of a sovereign state, in so far as such powers shall be consistent with the control of the League of Nations and save as they shall be limited by the terms of this convention. …. hereby accepts the mandate thus conferred upon it.


. . . . shall be responsible for placing Palestine under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home and the development ofa self-governing Common­ wealth, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may 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.


........ will encourage the widest measure of self-government for localities consistent with the prevailing conditions.


An appropriate Jewish agency shall be recognised as a public body with power to advise and co-operate with the Government in all administrative, economic, social and other matters affecting the establishment of the Jewish National Home and the interests of the Jewish population in Palestine and subject always to the control of the Government to assist and take part in the development of the country. It shall have a preferential right, upon fair and equitable terms, to construct or operate public works, services and utilities not undertaken by the Government, or to develop the natural resources of the country. No private profits distributed by such agency 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 mandatory. The Government will consult with the agency {in / before} granting concessions for the construction or operation of such public works, services and utilities or for the development of such natural resources as are not undertaken by the agency.

The Zionist Organisation shall forthwith be recognised as such agency on the understanding that it shall take steps in consultation with the mandatory to secure the co-operation of all Jews who are willing to assist in the establish­ment of the Jewish National Home.


........ in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 5 shall promote Jewish immigration and close settlement by Jews on the land, and shall open for such settlement all public lands and all other lands that can be made available, the established rights of the present non-Jewish population being equitably safeguarded.


(i) Jews who within seven years of the coming into force of the Treaty become resident in Palestine: (a) will, after the expiration of twelve months from the date of their arrival, have the right to obtain Palestinian citizenship by application in accordance with such regulations as may be prescribed: (b) will, failing such application become citizens of Palestine, ipso facto, on the expiration of a period of two years from the date of their arrival unless within the said period of two years they declare before the competent Palestinian authority their desire not to become citizens of Palestine. The Government of Palestine may {permit / authorise} such persons to remain in Palestine after the making of such declaration. Persons who become citizens of Palestine under the provisions of this Article will ipso facto lose their existing nationality. For the purpose of the provisions of this Article the status of a married woman will be governed by that of her husband, and the status of children under eighteen years of age by that of their parents. (ii) The Government of Palestine shall also enact a Nationality Law so framed as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews other than those who acquire such citizenship under Para, (i) of this Article and will become resident in Palestine.


The immunities and privileges of foreigners as well as the rights of consular jurisdiction and protection formerly established in the .Ottoman dominions by the capitulations and by usage are abolished in Palestine. It will be the duty of the mandatory to ensure that the judicial system estab­ lished in Palestine (a) reasonably safeguards the interests of persons of western race or civilisation: (b) reasonably safeguards in relation to certain matters based on the religious tenets of particular communities (such as Wakf and questions of personal status) the law and (to such extent as the mandatory may consider desirable) the jurisdiction hitherto applicable in Palestine. The extradition treaties now in force between foreign powers and the mandatory power will apply to Palestine.


The Government of Palestine shall have full power to reserve the de­velopment of the country for local interests, including the Jewish agency referred to in Article 5, and such other Jewish bodies approved by it as may be organised to facilitate the development of the Jewish National Home, and are officially recognised by the Government. In the construction and operation of public works, services and utilities and in the development of the natural resources of the country, the establish­ ment of the Jewish National Home shall be a guiding principle. The Government shall provide for public ownership or effective public control of the natural resources of the country and of the public works, services, and utilities established and to be established therein; shall safe­ guard the interests of the community against their exploitation, and shall limit private profit from their development to a reasonable return on the capital employed therein, taking into account the extent and character of the risks assumed. The Government shall introduce a land system appropriate to the needs of the country, and adequate to prevent the evils of land speculation, which shall, among other things, further the close settlement arid intensive culture- tion of the land and discourage its uneconomic use or non-use, prevent the evils of mortmain, and limit the maximum areas of holdings.


The foreign relations of Palestine shall be conducted by . . . . and citi­zens of Palestine shall be entitled to the protection of . . . . when outside the limits of Palestine. All States members of the League of Nations shall have the right to station consular officers in Palestine.


All responsibility in connection with the Holy Places and religious buildings or sites of Palestine, including that of preserving existing rights therein, of securing free access to the Holy Places, religious buildings and sites and the free exercise of worship therein, while ensuring the requirements of public order and decorum, is assumed by . . . . who will be responsible solely to the League of Nations in all matters connected therewith.


... will be responsible for providing that certain Holy Places, religious buildings or sites, regarded with special veneration by the adherents of one particular religion,0are transferred to the permanent possession and control of suitable bodies selected or appointed by it and representing the adherents of the religion concerned. The selection of the Holy Places, religious build­ings or sites to be so transferred will be made by . . . … will also be responsible for deciding, after investigation by a Commis­ sion appointed by it and containing representatives of the denominations concerned, questions arising in connection with any Holy Places, religious buildings or sites which, in the opinion of… should be dealt with under this article, but whose ownership or control may be disputed by two or more denominations. In all cases of transference, however, the right and duty of the … to maintain order and decorum in the places transferred shall not be affected, and the buildings and sites will be subject to the provisions of such laws relating to public monuments as may be enacted by the Government of Palestine. The rights of possession and control conferred under this Article are guaranteed by the League of Nations, and shall never be Subject to any dimi­nution or modification whatsoever, unless by the consent of a majority of the Council of the League of Nations.


The responsibility for the protection of all religious interests being thus exercised on behalf of the League of Nations by . . . all such protectorates previously exercised by any foreign states shall cease to operate in Palestine.


No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief. Freedom of conscience and religious toleration shall be allowed to all inhabitants of Palestine, including the exercise of all forms of worship and no discrimination of any kind shall be made between any citizens of Palestine on the ground of race, sex or religion. No civil or political right of any citizen of Palestine shall be conditional upon, nor shall its exercise be affected by, any consideration of race, sex or faith or a change of faith, provided that this shall not prevent the selection of official representatives of races or faiths or forbid the definition of the fran­chise for their selection on the basis of race or faith. No hindrance shall be offered in spiritual matters either to the organisation of the different com­munities or to their relations with their spiritual chiefs. 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 Government may impose) shall not be denied or impaired. In particular the administration of the Jewish educational system shall be entrusted to the Jewish agency referred to in Article 5 or to such other agencies as may be designated or approved by it for the purpose.


The organisation of religious communities as where it exists already shall be maintained by the Government of Palestine as long as the Govern­ment considers it desirable.


Missionaries of all denominations the subjects or citizens of any member of the League of Nations shall be allowed freely to travel and reside with a view to prosecute their calling and to maintain their schools subject only to the requirements of public order, and there shall be no discrimination against such schools and institutions as compared with other establishments providing similar standards of education, it being understood that such schools and institutions shall not have the right to be assisted from public funds. Missionary bodies will be allowed, subject to local laws, to erect such buildings and to acquire and hold such property as may be necessary for the conduct of their religious and educational work. But the Government of Palestine shall have the right to exercise such control as may be necessary for the maintenance of public order and good government, and take all measures required for such control.


The Government of Palestine may organise a local gendarmerie for the preservation of peace and order, but with this exception, no military, naval or air forces shall be raised or maintained by Palestine, nor shall any fortifications be created or bases established therein. Such forces as shall be raised shall be on a voluntary basis. Such . . . . forces as shall be stationed in Palestine shall be confined to such numbers as may be necessary for the maintenance of the internal order and protection of the frontiers against raids. No Palestinian territory shall be ceded, leased, or in any way placed under the control of any foreign power for the establishment of a naval, military or aerial base.


Subject to the provisions of Articles … the commerce and naviga­tion of all States members of the League of Nations while engaged in lawful enterprises shall enjoy equal treatment in Palestine. No attempt shall be made by … to obtain in Palestine for the commerce or navigation of its own subjects treatment more favourable than that which is accorded to the commerce and navigation of other nations.


. . . shall secure the observance, so far as local conditions permit, of all international conventions dealing with matters referred to in Article 23 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.


English, Hebrew and Arabic shall be the official languages of Palestine, and shall be employed inter alia on the stamps and money of Palestine.


The Government shall recognise the Jewish Sabbath and the Jewish holidays as legal days of rest without prejudice to the civil and religious rights of non-Jews and shall permit to all inhabitants the pursuit of their ordinary vocation on all days other than their respective days of rest and holidays.


(Whatever clause regarding annual report is agreed upon by Manda­tory Commission for ‘A’ Mandates with due regard to the special character of the Mandate for Palestine.)


The Government of Palestine will co-operate, so far as religious and other local conditions permit, in the execution of a common policy adopted by the League of Nations for preventing and combating disease, including diseases of animals and plants.


The Government of Palestine shall take steps within twelve months from the exchange of ratifications of this convention to enact and thereafter to execute a Law of Antiquities based on the instructions contained in Annex 23 of this convention, which shall replace the former Ottoman Law of Antiquities. No attempt shall be made by . . . . to obtain for the archaeo­ logical research of its own citizens, treatment more favourable than that which is accorded to the archaeological research of other nations.


The Mandatory Power recognises the obligations accepted by it under this convention to be matters of international concern of which the League of Nations has jurisdiction.


Without prejudice to the principles embodied in the Preamble to this convention, changes in its provisions may be made with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, and it shall be the duty of the Council to advise the reconsideration of the present Convention, should the terms in its opinion have become inapplicable to existing conditions.


If any dispute whatever should arise between the members of the League of Nations relating to the interpretation of the application of the present convention which cannot be settled by friendly negotiations, such dispute shall be submitted to the permanent Court of International Justice to be established by the League of Nations.