Mandatory Palestine

Mandatory Palestine

Mandatory Palestine in 1946
Mandatory Palestine in 1946
StatusMandate of the United Kingdom
Common languagesEnglish, Arabic, Hebrew
Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Baha'i Faith, Druze faith
High Commissioner 
• 1920–1925 (first)
Sir Herbert L. Samuel
• 1945–1948 (last)
Sir Alan G. Cunningham
Historical eraInterwar period, World War II
• Mandate assigned
25 April 1920
• Britain officially assumes control
29 September 1923
14 May 1948
CurrencyEgyptian pound
(until 1927)
Palestine pound
(from 1927)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Occupied Enemy Territory Administration
Jordanian annexation of the West Bank
All-Palestine Protectorate
Today part of Israel

Mandatory Palestine[a][1] (Arabic: فلسطينFilasṭīn; Hebrew: פָּלֶשְׂתִּינָה (א"י) Pālēśtīnā (EY), where "EY" indicates "Eretz Yisrael", Land of Israel) was a geopolitical entity established between 1920 and 1923 in the region of Palestine under the terms of the "Mandate for Palestine".

During the First World War (1914–18), an Arab uprising and the British Empire's Egyptian Expeditionary Force under General Edmund Allenby drove the Turks out of the Levant during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign.[2] The United Kingdom had agreed in the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence that it would honour Arab independence if they revolted against the Ottomans, but the two sides had different interpretations of this agreement, and in the end, the UK and France divided up the area under the Sykes–Picot Agreement—an act of betrayal in the eyes of the Arabs. Further complicating the issue was the Balfour Declaration of 1917, promising British support for a Jewish "national home" in Palestine. At the war's end the British and French set up a joint "Occupied Enemy Territory Administration" in what had been Ottoman Syria. The British achieved legitimacy for their continued control by obtaining a mandate from the League of Nations in June 1922. The formal objective of the League of Nations mandate system was to administer parts of the defunct Ottoman Empire, which had been in control of the Middle East since the 16th century, "until such time as they are able to stand alone."[3]

During the British Mandate period the area experienced the ascent of two major nationalist movements, one among the Jews and the other among the Palestinian Arabs. The competing national interests of the two populations against each other and against the governing British authorities matured into the Arab Revolt of 1936–1939 and the Jewish insurgency in Mandatory Palestine, before culminating in the 1947–1949 Palestine war. This led to the establishment of the 1949 cease-fire agreement, with partition of the former Mandatory Palestine between the newborn state of Israel with a Jewish majority, the Arab West Bank annexed by the Jordanian Kingdom and the Arab All-Palestine Protectorate in the Gaza Strip under Egypt.


1927 Mandatory Palestine postage stamp
1941 Mandatory Palestine coin
1927 Mandatory Palestine revenue stamp
1927 Mandatory Palestine coin
"Palestine" is shown in English, Arabic (فلسطين) and Hebrew; the latter includes the acronym א״י for Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel).

The name given to the Mandate's territory was "Palestine", in accordance with local Palestinian Arab and Ottoman usage[4][5][6][7] as well as European traditions.[b] The Mandate charter stipulated that Mandatory Palestine would have three official languages, namely English, Arabic and Hebrew.

In 1926, the British authorities formally decided to use the traditional Arabic and Hebrew equivalents to the English name, i.e. filasţīn (فلسطين) and pālēśtīnā (פּלשׂתינה) respectively. The Jewish leadership proposed that the proper Hebrew name should be ʾĒrēts Yiśrāʾel (ארץ ישׂראל=Land of Israel). The final compromise was to add the initials of the Hebrew proposed name, Alef-Yud, within parenthesis (א״י), whenever the Mandate's name was mentioned in Hebrew in official documents. The Arab leadership saw this compromise as a violation of the mandate terms. Some Arab politicians suggested that there should be a similar Arabic concession, such as "Southern Syria" (سوريا الجنوبية). The British authorities rejected this proposal; according to the Minutes of the Ninth Session of the League of Nations' Permanent Mandates Commission:

Colonel Symes explained that the country was described as "Palestine" by Europeans and as "Falestin" by the Arabs. The Hebrew name for the country was the designation "Land of Israel", and the Government, to meet Jewish wishes, had agreed that the word "Palestine" in Hebrew characters should be followed in all official documents by the initials which stood for that designation. As a set-off to this, certain of the Arab politicians suggested that the country should be called "Southern Syria" in order to emphasise its close relation with another Arab State.[9]