As part of the
After the withdrawal of
The Administrative Division
For administrative purposes, the Ottoman Empire was divided into provinces (called eyalets until 1864 and vilayets afterwards, each under a vali), which were in turn divided into sanjaqs (districts, each governed by a mutasarrif); sanjaqs were divided into qadas (subdistricts, each governed by a qa'im maqam). Before the occupation of Muhammad Ali, what became Palestine after World War I was administratively divided as follows: the three Sanjaqs of Jerusalem,
Administrative Reorganization in the Aftermath of Egyptian Withdrawal
After the withdrawal of Muhammad Ali's army back to Egypt at the end of 1840, the Sublime Porte decided to unite the Sanjaq of Jerusalem with the Sanjaq of Jaffa-Gaza to form one sanjaq that carried the name of Jerusalem. This decision effectively transformed Jaffa and Gaza into subdistricts that were subordinate to Jerusalem. It remained so until World War I. The enlarged Sanjaq of Jerusalem remained part of the province of Damascus.
In early 1842, the Sanjaq of Nablus was joined to that of Jerusalem. The resulting administrative unit extended from the
After the withdrawal of Muhammad Ali's forces, the seat of the Province of Saida was transferred from Acre to
Thus, after 1841 Jerusalem became the major administrative center in southern Syria, taking the place of Acre before it and of Nablus (which had acquired a temporary primacy in the eighteenth century). This was an important contribution to its future development. An argument can be made that with the rise of Jerusalem, the modern history of Palestine began.
Administrative Reorganization after the Enactment of the 1864 Vilayet Law
In 1864, the Ottomans enacted the Vilayet Law (Law of the Provinces) as a step toward applying the
But the formation of this province did not gain unanimous approval at the Porte. Thus, following the death of Grand Vizier Ali Pasha in September 1871,
Another change was made in March 1888 when the Porte decided to separate the Province of Syria into two provinces: a reduced Province of Syria and a new Province of Beirut. Both the Sanjaq of Acre and the Sanjaq of Nablus were to be part of the Province of Beirut.
The Formation of the Boundaries
The boundaries among the sanjaqs that afterwards formed Palestine—namely Acre in the north, Nablus at the center, and Jerusalem in the center-south—were administrative and not natural or geographical.
The Sanjaq of Acre
The Sanjaq of Acre was bordered to the north by the Qada (subdistrict) of Sur (
The Sanjaq of Nablus
South of Acre, the Sanjaq of Nablus and
The Sanjaq of Jerusalem
The sanjaq was bordered by the Sanjaq of Nablus to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. Its eastern boundaries started from the north of Jericho through the Dead Sea down to the
The administrative division implemented by the Sublime Porte strengthened its control over a sensitive region. The most sensitive district of this region was perhaps Jerusalem in part because of its location and in part because of the growing interests of the European powers in the Christian holy places. Due to these factors, it was given a special status by the Sublime Porte in 1872. Moreover, in order to have all the Christian holy places controlled by one governor, the Ottomans separated in 1906 the Qada (subdistrict) of
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