الراوي عدوان  

 

Mandate for Palestine

 

Report of the Mandatory to the League of Nations 31 December 1926 UNISPAL

  

 

REPORT BY HIS BRITANNIC MAJESTY'S GOVERNMENT

TO THE COUNCIL OF THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS

ON THE ADMINISTRATION OF PALESTINE AND TRANS-JORDAN

FOR THE YEAR 1926

 

 

 

SECTION I.

 

PALESTINE.

 

 

I. INTRODUCTORY.

General.

 

The economic condition of the country has been less prosperous this year than

last. The principal reasons for this are twofold:--

 

    (i) The early promise of a better distributed rainfall yielding an abundant

    harvest was not fulfilled, and an outbreak of cattle plague during the

    summer, though effectually checked before it had spread very far,

    necessitated rigorous restriction of the movement of animals for several

    months.

 

    (ii) The financial situation of the Jewish part of the local population has

    for various reasons been unsatisfactory as compared with the two previous

    years and this has affected trade in general.

 

These adverse conditions are reflected in the revenue returns for Customs,

Tithes, and Land Registration Fees in 1926, but the full effect of them on the

financial situation of the country is not yet apparent.

 

It is satisfactory to note, however, that notwithstanding these conditions, and

the continuance of a troubled situation on the northern frontier, there has been

no disturbance of public security in Palestine and Trans-Jordan. A complete

reorganisation on more economical lines of the public security forces in the two

countries has been effected. Considerable progress in administrative efficiency

has been made. A number of public works have been carried out: amongst others

the improvement of the port at Jaffa and the installation of a more adequate

water supply for Jerusalem supplementing the supply installed by the Army in

1918. This improved water supply has, however, been laid down only as a

temporary measure, and the pre-war concessions for the water supply and electric

lighting of Jerusalem, which were held by Mr. E. Mavrommatis, have been

re-adapted to meet present day requirements; but the concessionnaire has not yet

formed a company to carry out these works.

 

A stud farm has been established near Acre. Preparations for land settlement,

for the introduction of new currency, and for the issue of a revised stamp law

have been advanced.

 

Tourist traffic shows satisfactory development. Several large Christian

pilgrimages visited the country. An archaeological congress, attended by some

ninety representatives of scientific bodies in many parts of the world, was held

at Jerusalem in April.

 

An alteration in the District Administration has been made whereby Jerusalem and

its neighbourhood including the sub-districts of Bethlehem and Ramallah have

been excluded from the Southern District (whose headquarters are at Jaffa), and

constituted an independent Administrative Division under a Deputy District

Commissioner.

 

The Administration have lost two valuable officers in the persons of Sir R.

Storrs, lately District Commissioner of the Jerusalem and Southern District, who

was appointed Governor of Cyprus, and Professor J. Garstang, Director of the

Antiquities Department, who has retired from the Government service; and further

losses will be experienced shortly by the retirement of the Chief Justice, Sir

T. W. Haycraft, and the transfer of Mr. H. B. Lees, the Director of Public

Works, to Ceylon.

 

 

Local Government.

 

A Municipal Franchise Ordinance to enable Municipal Councils to be put on an

elective basis was enacted in December. The system for elections under this

Ordinance is general and not communal, and each voter is entitled to vote for

all candidates for election to the Municipal Council. At the same time it is

desired to secure proportional representation of the several communities, and to

this end provision is made for separate community registers in the case of mixed

populations (See Section IV Legal - p. 20). Certain sections of the population

would have preferred municipal elections to be conducted on communal lines; but

nevertheless preparations for the elections are being carried out with the keen

co-operation of the citizens. A revision of the existing municipal law and

regulations is being made with a view to the enactment of a new and

comprehensive ordinance better suited to modern conditions and requirements of

the country. The draft of this ordinance when ready will be discussed with

members of the newly-elected Municipal Councils.

 

A Moslem Committee has been appointed to make recommendations for the reform of

the Regulation for the Supreme Moslem (Sharia) Council, and of the system of

election to that body, but has not yet rendered its report.

 

The draft Regulations for the Jewish Community have been completed, but are not

yet published.

 

The report in English of the Bertram-Young inquiry into the affairs of the

(Greek) Orthodox Community has been translated into Arabic and Greek and

published in book form. It contains suggestions for the amendment of the

existing Ottoman Statute for the organisation of the community, a Statute which

was never fully applied.

 

 

Finance.

 

The Palestine and East Africa Loans Act, 1926, received the Royal Assent in

December. By this Act His Majesty's Treasury is authorised to guarantee a loan

of 4,500,000 to be raised by the Palestine Government.

 

Notwithstanding a falling revenue and increased expenditure, as compared with

1925, surplus balances at the end of 1926 totalled E.1,504,554 as compared with

E.1,069,576 at the end of 1925. Advances have been made from surplus balances

and by the Crown Agents to defray the cost of works undertaken in anticipation

of the new Palestine loan. Repayment of these advances and of the sum of

1,000,000, due to His Majesty's Government in respect of Railways, Roads,

Telegraphs and other capital assets acquired by the Palestine Government, will

be effected when the loan is issued. The balance of the loan will be utilised

for construction of a harbour at Haifa and other necessary works, and to defray

the cost of raising the loan.

 

The public finances of the country, although not unsatisfactory, demand a

cautious policy. The expansion of revenue which has enabled the accumulation of

considerable surplus balances is due mainly to items derived from the large

influx of Jewish capital to the country. These items will fall and rise in close

relation to this influx. On the other hand Jewish enterprise and capital have

not yet succeeded, and cannot in the nature of things succeed immediately, in

increasing the production of the country to a level that will maintain its

increasing population and serve to lessen the present tremendous disparity

between the values of visible imports and exports. So long as these conditions

obtain it will be difficult to ensure financial stability and recurrent

expenditure must be kept low if adequate provision is to be made for the payment

of interest charges and amortization of the projected loan. The normal and

steady exploitation of the agricultural and other natural resources of the

country, although apparently slow, will be facilitated by improved means of

communication provided by the Government from loan funds and should in due

course ensure a more stable economic position. In the meantime the accumulation

of surplus balances provides a reserve fund from which, as circumstances permit,

monies may be available for the execution of a buildings programme and other

public utility works of which the country stands in urgent need.

 

 

Inland Revenue System.

 

An official Commission was appointed to examine the vexed question of replacing

the present system of assessing the tithe on agricultural produce (which was

reduced last year from 12 1/2 per cent. to 10 per cent. of the market value) by

a system which would be less onerous alike to revenue officers and the public.

Concurrently with this examination are proceeding measures preparatory to a

permanent and unquestionably beneficial change in the inland revenue system.

These measures will consist of a cadastral survey and land settlement in order

to ascertain and fix title. This is a work of some magnitude and, while every

effort will be made to carry it out expeditiously, it will take a period of

years before it can be completed for the whole country. The issue before the

Commission, therefore, was whether it was possible, and worth while, to devise a

new system so much better than the present one, which is familiar to the bulk of

the peasantry, as to warrant its introduction pending the institution of

permanent reform, and to outweigh the obvious objection to two changes in

revenue system within the period required to effect this reform. The members of

the Commission were unable to make a unanimous recommendation and, as the issue

is one of immediate interest to the agricultural population, their report has

been published in order, if possible, to elicit an expression of public opinion

for or against the temporary change in system advocated by the majority of the

Commission.

 

 

Education.

 

The problem of the better organisation and promotion of educational enterprise

in Palestine has been the subject of further careful study by the Government.

The variety of existing enterprise has been described in previous reports; and

later statistics of schools maintained almost entirely from general revenues and

managed by the Department of Education, and of schools managed and maintained by

the Zionist Organisation and by non-official bodies, Moslem, Christian and

Jewish, are given in Section V* (p. 28) of this Report. It will be seen that the

two largest groups or systems of schools, the one organised by the Government in

which the principal language of instruction is Arabic, the other organised by

the Zionist Executive in which the principal language is Hebrew, together

provide for nearly three-fifths of the total school attendance. Thus, public

instruction is divisible into two main branches; the one concerned with the

instruction of Arabs, the other with the instruction of Jews. This division by

national language corresponds with the political and cultural cleavage between

the two sections of the local population. It is the object of Government to

develop the administration of these two divisions along parallel lines and to

evolve a public system of education which shall comprise all schools in receipt

of financial aid from public funds whether provided by the central or local

authorities. Organs of local Government such as Municipal Councils and Community

Councils will, as their circumstances admit, be made local education

authorities, and authorised to levy an additional rate for educational purposes.

A new Education Ordinance to replace existing (Ottoman) legislation is being

prepared. It is proposed under the Ordinance to make regulations for local

education authorities and for schools, Arabic and Hebrew, included in the public

system.

 

 

Jewish Settlement.

 

A sharp depression in trade and other commercial enterprise succeeded the easier

conditions which prevailed in 1925, and has been the cause of distress--in some

places acute--among Jewish immigrants. As the result there has been a

considerable movement to emigrate, more unemployment, and a feeling of anxiety

throughout the local Jewish Community. Relief of distress, occasionally in the

form of money doles but principally by the provision of special works, has been

afforded by the Zionist Organisation, supported by Jewish public bodies and

aided by the never-failing Jewish philanthropy. But the strain at a period when

trade was slack has borne somewhat heavily on the community as a whole. Partly

on this account the Council of the Tel-Aviv Township, in which the majority of

Jewish unemployed was assembled, were compelled to seek the aid of Government to

enable them to meet financial obligations contracted when the immediate outlook

was brighter. An attractive side of the picture is the spirit of fortitude which

has hitherto predominated, and of determination whenever possible to struggle

through a difficult period.

 

There is possibly some danger that unduly pessimistic inferences may be made

from the present situation in its relation to the establishment of a Jewish

National Home. The facts certainly controvert the views of those optimists who

demanded insistently a sudden large increase in the local Jewish population by

means of an unrestricted immigration of Jews from Eastern Europe; and who

believed that, given the necessary population and sufficient capital,

agriculture and industry could at once be made profitable in a small,

undeveloped country in which several important factors to the success of

settlement on a large scale are at present lacking. The Government, engaged in

the preparation of a number of projects which, as they can be realised, will

promote the economic development of the country, are often accused of

indifference to these factors and urged to adopt a forward colonizing policy.

Apart from the fact that His Majesty's Government have decided that immigration

should not be so great in volume as to exceed whatever may be the economic

capacity of the country at the time to absorb new arrivals, it must be

remembered that time is an essential, perhaps the prime, factor in successful

Jewish settlement. The ratio of yield to capital invested is still an attenuated

one and it will be some years before increased production, mainly agricultural,

can support a much larger Jewish population in the country. The enterprise of

the Palestine Electric Corporation, the concession in whose favour has now been

signed, harbour improvements and other enterprises of a constructive nature will

in the future, it is hoped, provide employment for all labour surplus to present

requirements, and should pave the way to new economic developments. In the

meantime all available monies and effort should be directed to the consolidation

of the position, agricultural, industrial and commercial, already gained; and a

selective immigration policy must ensure that this work of consolidation is not

impeded by the entry to the country of non-productive elements whose presence

immediately would be a source of

embarrassment and weakness.

 

Local Defence.

 

A reorganisation of public security forces was effected during the year with a

view to making the two territories--Palestine and Trans-Jordan--comprised in the

British mandatory area more self-dependent in regard to local defence and to

reducing the amount of the grants-in-aid hitherto made by the British Treasury

on this account.

 

Under the new scheme a clear distinction is made between the forces employed on

normal police duties and those who may be required to engage in military

operations. The British and Palestinian Sections of the Palestine Gendarmerie,

as well as the Arab Legion in Trans-Jordan, have been disbanded, and replaced by

Palestine and Trans-Jordan Police Forces who perform the normal police duties,

and by a mounted military force recruited locally and designated the

Trans-Jordan Frontier Force. This latter force is available for duty in both

territories but is principally required for service in Trans-Jordan. The cost of

the Palestine Police Force is borne by the Government of Palestine and the cost

of the Trans-Jordan Police Force, which has been renamed the Arab Legion, by the

Government of Trans-Jordan assisted by a grant-in-aid from the British

Government.

 

The Trans-Jordan Frontier Force, which is under the command of British Officers,

is highly mobile and has been recruited for the most part from the Arab Legion

and ex-(Palestine) gendarmes. Its cost is borne by the Palestine Government with

the assistance in 1926 of a grant-in-aid from the British Government.

 

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