Paris, City of Light: 1919–1939 (Text Only): City of Light, 1919-39
A major question facing the victorious European Powers was the political status of territories and peoples formerly under Ottoman rule. The Allied Powers, however, decided at the Paris Peace Conference of to bring these territories under the mandates system introduced by the Covenant of the League of Nations, signed on 28 June , as an integral part of the Treaty of Versailles which concluded peace with Germany. The League of Nations was a body sui generis, established by an unprecedented agreement by the victorious States of the post-war world to establish their concept of order in international relations.
The place of the colonies ruled by the victorious States and the territories detached from the defeated States was a special problem in this order.
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The League of Nations, designed to respond to the prevailing order, adopted the mandates concept, an innovation in the international system, as a way to accommodate the demands of the colonial age with the moral and political need to acknowledge the rights of the colonized. The degree of tutelage was to depend on the extent of political maturity of the territory concerned.
The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory. Article 22 laid down no rules for the selection of the Mandatory Powers or for the distribution of mandates between them. Turkey and Germany were simply made to renounce their claims to sovereignty over the territories whose distribution was to be decided by the Allied Powers.
In the case of Turkey, such renunciation was provided for in the Treaty of Sevres of article but, since that treaty never came into force, the renunciation of Turkish claims over non-Turkish territories was formalized in the Treaty of Lausanne. The former German territories were allotted by a decision of the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers on 7 May , shortly after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. The former Turkish territories, however, were divided at the Conference of San Remo on 25 April , while a legal state of war with Turkey still existed, three years before the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne.
The various mandate instruments were drafted by the Mandatory Powers concerned but subject to the approval of the League of Nations. The mandate for Iraq, while in the process of being drafted, was amended to provide for the signature of a treaty between Britain and Iraq, which was concluded in This was supplemented by further agreements, all approved by the League as meeting with the requirements of article 22 of the Covenant. Iraq obtained formal independence on 3 October The Mandate for Syria and Lebanon did not provide for any special treatment as in the case of Iraq.
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Both territories were governed under the full control of France until the Mandate was terminated. Lebanon achieved full independence on 22 November and Syria on 1 January Palestine and Transjordan as it was then called were included in the same Mandate but treated as distinct territories.
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On the request of the British Government the Council of the League, on 16 September , passed a resolution effectively approving a separate administration for Transjordan. This separate administration continued until the territory attained independence as the Kingdom of Jordan on 22 March Only in the case of Palestine did the Mandate, with its inherent contradictions, lead not to the independence provisionally recognized in the Covenant, but towards conflict that was to continue six decades later. The contradictions inherent in the Mandate for Palestine arose from the incorporation in it of the Balfour Declaration.
The importance of gaining international support for a Jewish State was recognized from the outset for several reasons:. Weizmann and Zionist representatives from France and Italy, accompanied by British officials. The telegram to the British High Commission in Egypt outlined its task:. Although formally still part of the Ottoman Empire, Palestine was under British military occupation since December Palestinian apprehension over the intents of the Balfour Declaration had been reported to London by the military authorities, and when the Zionist Commission arrived in Jerusalem, Weizmann wrote the Foreign Office:.
This has already been done by Mr.
Balfour in London, and by the press throughout the world. What is wanted is that the Zionists themselves should bring home to the Arabs and Syrians an exposition at once as accurate and conciliatory as possible of their real aims and policy in the country;…. Palestine, up to now a Moslem country, has fallen into the hands of a Christian Power which on the eve of its conquest announced that a considerable portion of its land is to be handed over for colonization purposes to a nowhere very popular people.
The dispatch of a Commission of these people is subsequently announced … From the announcement in the British press until this moment there has been no sign of a hostile demonstration public or private against a project which if we may imagine England for Palestine can hardly open for the inhabitants the beatific vision of a new heaven and a new earth.
The Commission was warned in Cairo of the numerous and grave misconceptions with which their enterprise was regarded and strongly advised to make a public pronouncement to put an end to those misconceptions. Proposals were submitted to the Foreign Office for consideration at the Conference. He contemplates a Jewish State, a Jewish nation, a subordinate population of Arabs, etc. Feisal relied heavily for guidance on the British Government, which had sponsored his participation in the Conference.
His position is described by George Antonius:. He felt keenly the insufficiency of his equipment, his ignorance of English, his unfamiliarity with the methods of European diplomacy … It added to his sense of weakness and isolation that he knew the French to be hostile to his person and to his mission: apart from the scant courtesy with which he had been treated on his passage through France, he had had a multitude of signs to show him that his own distrust of the French was unfeignedly reciprocated.
Feisal apparently did not fully appreciate the implications of Zionist aims. He could play no significant role in the Conference and, influenced by British officials, he presented a brief memorandum dated 1 January to the Paris Peace Conference, outlining the case for the independence of Arab countries. The paragraph relating to Palestine reads, in stilted and peculiar language:.
The Jews are very close to the Arabs in blood, and there is no conflict of character between the two races. In principles we are absolutely at one. Nevertheless, the Arabs cannot risk assuming the responsibility of holding level the scales in the clash of races and religions that have, in this one province, so often involved the world in difficulties. They would wish for the effective super-position of a great trustee, so long as a representative local administration commended itself by actively promoting the material prosperity of the country. The significant point is the absence of representation of the Palestinian principals in decision on their fate, a characteristic also of subsequent rulings on Palestine.
Both Weizmann and Sokolow spoke before the Conference, where the Zionist Organization presented a detailed memorandum drafted by a Committee including Samuel and Sykes , whose introductory portions, suggesting the alienation of Palestinian sovereignty, read:. For their own reasons both Britain and France did not nominate members to the Commission. The resolution asked for full independence for Syria including Lebanon and Palestine , rejecting any form of foreign influence or control.
The resolution included the first formal declaration of Arab opposition to the plans being made for Palestine:. Our Jewish compatriots shall enjoy our common rights and assume the common responsibilities. The portions dealing with Palestine recommended:. The tables show that there was no one thing upon which the population of Palestine were more agreed than upon this.
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No British Officer consulted by the Commissioners believed that the Zionist programme could be carried out except by force of arms. The officers generally thought that a force of not less than 50, soldiers would be required even to initiate the programme. That of itself is evidence of a strong sense of the injustice of the Zionist programme, on the part of the non-Jewish populations of Palestine and Syria. Decisions, requiring armies to carry out, are sometimes necessary, but they are surely not gratuitously to be taken in the interests of a serious injustice. Meanwhile, the actual policy for Palestine was being given final shape.
Palestine presented a unique situation. For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country, though the American Commission has been going through the form of asking what they are. And zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the , Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.
What I have never been able to understand is how it can be harmonized with the Anglo-French declaration of November , the Covenant, or the instructions to the Commission of Enquiry. Whatever deference should be paid to the view of those living there, the Powers in their selection of a mandatory do not propose, as I understand the matter, to consult them.
The process has been described as follows:. Lloyd George. As a result of the compromise, Palestine, which had under the Sykes-Picot plan been destined for international administration, in the end passed by mutual consent into British tutelage. The decision of the Allied Powers to support Zionist aims drew protest from Palestinians.
Citizens of Nazareth reminded the British Administrator in Jerusalem:. Undeterred, the Zionist Organization pressed to obtain international support for its aims by securing approval from the League of Nations. Weizmann writes that his advisers:. Draft after draft was proposed, discussed and rejected, and I sometimes wondered if we should ever reach a final text. The wording of the Mandate was the object of strong opinions within the British Government, with Curzon strongly resisting formulations that would imply recognition of any legal rights for the Zionist movement in Palestine.
Excerpts from official memoranda are informative:.
Surely most dangerous. It is an euphemism for a Jewish State, the very thing they accepted and that we disallow;….