Overall Chronology

Overall Chronology

II. Early Mandate Period
2 November 1917 to 15 April 1936

British Show of Force

British troops in full kit march through Jerusalem in a show of military force.

August 1929
Matson Photo Service, Library of Congress

As World War I came to an end, Palestine was placed under British rule, first in the form of the military administration of the Occupied Enemy Territory Administration and later as a Class A Mandate of the League of Nations. Palestinians were relieved that the hardships of the war and the Ottoman rule (which had become increasingly unpopular in the years preceding the war) were finally over, but their relief was quickly tempered by British commitments to the Zionist project in Palestine and the realization that efforts toward Arab independence would be undermined at all turns by the European powers. Jewish immigration, though uneven, significantly increased Palestine’s Jewish population, and Zionist institutions grew stronger and increasingly entrenched within the Mandate’s governing structures. As Palestinian political leaders sought to engage the British administration, popular forms of resistance periodically erupted into violent clashes, the most significant being the Buraq Uprising of 1929 and widespread anti-British demonstrations in 1933. By the end of 1935, Palestine stood poised on the brink of full-blown revolt.

In the summer of 1919, structures emerged through which the European powers would assert their control over the Arab provinces of the former Ottoman Empire and undermine Arab efforts for self-determination. In June, the Treaty of Versailles and the Covenant of the League of Nations were signed, introducing a post–World War I order in which the Arab provinces were recognized as “independent nations,” to be assisted in their path toward independent statehood by a Mandatory. Meanwhile, in July, the General Syrian Congress was held in Damascus at which delegates from throughout the Levant elected Emir Faisal, son of Sharif Hussein, king of an Arab state to comprise Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Transjordan. But Faisal’s Arab state was quickly scuppered by the European powers: by July 1920, Faisal had been deposed by the French, who with Britain’s acquiescence imposed their rule in Lebanon and Syria under the Mandate framework.

Britain, in return, was allotted the Mandate for Palestine in April 1920 at the San Remo Conference. This was done despite the fact that Article 22 of the League of Nations Covenant stipulated that the wishes of the communities concerned must be taken into account. The King-Crane Commission, dispatched to the Levant in May 1919, had indeed recorded Palestinians’ support for Arab independence and their overwhelming concerns about Britain’s support for Zionism as expressed in the Balfour Declaration of 1917. In April 1920, the first violent clashes occurred between Palestinians and Jewish immigrants in Jaffa, in which five Jews were killed and two hundred wounded; four Palestinians were also killed and twenty-one injured. A British commission of inquiry attributed the riots to Palestinian “disappointment at the non-fulfillment of the promise of independence” and “fear of economic and political subjection” to Zionists.

Palestinian concerns were inflamed further by the appointment of Sir Herbert Samuel, a prominent British Zionist, to the post of high commissioner of the Palestine Mandate. In May 1921, clashes between rival Zionist factions spilled into Jaffa and prompted Palestinian protests against Zionist immigration in which forty-six Jews and sixty-eight Palestinians were killed. Meanwhile, Palestinians were also mobilizing politically and diplomatically against British support for Zionism. They organized Christian-Muslim associations in major cities, which went on to hold four national congresses between January 1919 and August 1922 and elected an Executive Committee. In 1921 and 1922, three Palestinian delegations visited London to present their case for a policy that prioritized the rights and needs of Palestine’s Arabs. Undeterred, Britain forged ahead with its commitment to Zionism but attempted to clarify it: a 1922 White Paper declared that Britain’s intention was to support the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, not the conversion of all of Palestine into such a home, and it linked the regulation of Jewish immigration into Palestine to the “economic absorptive capacity” of the country. In July 1922, the League of Nations approved the terms of Britain’s Mandate for Palestine, which reiterated Britain’s commitment to the Zionist project in multiple articles, and in September 1923 the Mandate officially came into effect.

Between 1923 and 1929, Zionists made steady progress in their project to establish a Jewish national home. From 1918 to 1929 some sixty new Zionist colonies were established, Zionist landownership rose from 2.04 percent of the total area of the country in 1919 to 4.4 percent in 1929, and immigration increased the Jewish proportion of the population from 9.7 percent to 17.6 percent during the same period. Zionist institutions in Palestine continued to assert themselves—in August 1929, the Jewish Agency was created to represent Jewish communities worldwide—and the British continued to privilege Zionist interests over the principle of self-determination or any structures that would have given the Palestinians political power commensurate with their demographic weight.

In 1929, Palestinian frustrations boiled over after right-wing Revisionist Zionists led a demonstration to the Western Wall/al-Buraq, a site holy to Jews and Muslims, to protest the status quo that had governed rights and access to religious sites in Palestine for centuries. The threat of the violation of this status quo prompted a violent reaction among Palestinians, and demonstrations and riots spread throughout the country, the most deadly occurring in Jerusalem, Hebron, and Safad. The clashes exposed the depths of Palestinians’ resistance to the imposition of the Zionist project against their will and prompted the British to consider the long-term impact of their pro-Zionist policy. In March 1930, a commission of inquiry (the Shaw Commission) confirmed that Palestinians saw Jewish immigration as both an economic and political threat, and another report (the Hope-Simpson Report), published in October, concluded that there was no additional land available for agricultural settlement by new Jewish immigrants. The British government issued, also in October 1930, another White Paper (Passfield White Paper) that recognized the conclusions drawn in these reports and advocated that greater attention be paid to Palestinian grievances. However, fierce Zionist criticism of the White Paper led to its virtual withdrawal in February 1931.

The Zionists made a number of gains in the 1930s, spurred forward by the rise of anti-Semitism—official and unofficial—in many European countries and Zionist efforts to channel Jews fleeing such oppression toward Palestine. Between 1931 and 1936, sixty-four new Zionist colonies were established, Zionist land ownership in Palestine rose to 5.4 percent of the total area, and the Jewish proportion of the population increased to 29.5 percent. The radical influx of Jewish immigrants invigorated Zionist institutions, including the illegal military organization Haganah. In October 1935, the discovery of a massive illegal arms shipment destined for the group confirmed Palestinians’ fears that the Zionist movement sought their displacement by military—in addition to political, demographic, and economic—means.

The early 1930s were also a period of increased Palestinian political activity. New political parties were formed and new newspapers were established; traditional elite-based politics were challenged and complemented by the rapid development of groups such as the Arab Youth Congress, the Young Men’s Muslim Association, the scouting movement, and the Istiqlal Party. Meanwhile, the global economic depression, combined with British policies and Zionist pressure, drove many young Palestinians from rural areas to cities in search of work. These groups became the raw material for the new popular political trends that were emerging. In 1933, large demonstrations throughout Palestine gave voice to the anger and frustration with British rule and were met violently by its agents. At the same time, secret paramilitary organizations began to organize in various regions of Palestine, the most famous being the Black Hand group led by Izzeddin al-Qassam. Al-Qassam was a Syrian who had fled the French authorities and gained a following in Haifa, where he preached at a mosque that catered to the new rural migrant underclass. In 1935, al-Qassam and a group of his followers clashed with British police and he was killed. His funeral in Haifa turned into a mass demonstration. As the following years would demonstrate, Palestinians were willing to risk everything to resist the British-backed imposition of Zionism.



Selected Bibliography

Bunton, Martin. Colonial Land Policies in Palestine, 1917–1936. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Huneidi, Sahar. A Broken Trust: Herbert Samuel, Zionism and the Palestinians, 1920–1925. London: I. B. Tauris, 2001.

Lesch, Ann M. Arab Politics in Palestine, 1917–1939: The Frustration of a Nationalist Movement. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1979.

Muslih, Muhammad. The Origins of Palestinian Nationalism. New York: Columbia University Press; Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1988.

Seikaly, May. Haifa: Transformation of an Arab Society, 1918–1939. London: I.B. Tauris, 1995.

Overall Chronology
E.g., 2020/09/26
E.g., 2020/09/26
Event Date Subject
Balfour Declaration Is Made 2 November 1917
Arrival in Palestine of the Zionist Commission April 1918
Establishment of Muslim-Christian Associations October 1918 - December 1918
End of World War I on the Eastern Front Between the Ottoman Empire and the Allied Powers 30 October 1918
Proclamations No. 75 and No. 76 on Immovable Property 18 November 1918
3rd Wave of Jewish Immigration to Palestine 1919 - 1923
1st Palestinian National Congress Is Held in Jerusalem 27 January 1919 - 10 February 1919
Appointment of the King-Crane Commission 20 March 1919 - 21 July 1919
Treaty of Versailles and League of Nations Covenant Signed 28 June 1919
The General Syrian Congress and the King-Crane Commission 2 July 1919 - 3 July 1919
Recommendations of the King-Crane Commission 28 August 1919
Covenant of the League of Nations Enters into Force 10 January 1920
The General Syrian National Congress Proclaims the Independence of Syria 27 February 1920 - 8 March 1920
Anti-Zionist Disturbances Break out in Palestine; Palin Commission of Inquiry April 1920
San Remo Conference 25 April 1920
Scheduled Second Palestinian National Congress Cannot Meet 15 May 1920
Founding of the Haganah, the Jewish Paramilitary Organization June 1920
International Zionist Conference Meets in London July 1920
Palestine Civil Government 1 July 1920
French Occupy Damascus 24 July 1920
Mahlul Land Ordinance 1 October 1920
Advisory Council for Palestine Is Established October 1920
Transfer of Land Ordinance 1 October 1920
Prevention of Crime Ordinance is Issued October 1920 - 15 December 1920
Establishment of the Histadrut December 1920
3rd Palestinian National Congress Meets in Haifa 13 December 1920 - 19 December 1920
Mewat Land Ordinance 16 February 1921
Palestine Police Ordinance Is Issued 15 March 1921
Prince Abdullah Is Named Emir of Transjordan 11 April 1921
May Day Clashes in Jaffa 1 May 1921 - 7 May 1921
Amin al-Husseini Elected Mufti of Jerusalem 8 May 1921
4th Palestinian National Congress Is Held in Jerusalem 29 May 1921 - 4 June 1921
Palestine Gendarmerie Is Established 1 July 1921 - 24 April 1922
12th Zionist Congress Is Held in Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary) 1 September 1921 - 14 September 1921
The Report of the Haycraft Commission of Inquiry on Jaffa Disturbances Is Published October 1921
Transfer of Land Amendment Ordinance No. 2 8 December 1921
Regulation Concerning the Supreme Moslem Sharia Council 20 December 1921 - 9 January 1922
Collective Responsibility for Crime Ordinance Comes into Force 1 January 1922
White Paper (Churchill) of 1922 Is Published 3 June 1922
The League of Nations Ratifies Britain’s Mandate over Palestine and Recognizes the Zionist Organization 24 July 1922
Promulgation of the Palestine Order in Council 10 August 1922
5th Palestinian National Congress Meets in Nablus 20 August 1922 - 1 September 1922
1st British Census of Palestine October 1922
Palestinians Boycott Elections February 1923 - March 1923
6th Palestinian National Congress Is Held in Jaffa 16 June 1923
Treaty of Lausanne Is Signed with Ataturk's Turkey 24 July 1923
13th Zionist Congress Is Held in Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary) 6 August 1923 - 18 August 1923
Official Onset of British Mandate for Palestine 29 September 1923
Palestinians Reject Arab Agency Scheme 12 October 1923
Founding of the Arab National Party in Jerusalem 8 November 1923
4th Wave of Jewish Immigration to Palestine 1924 - 1928
Prevention of Crime (Tribal and Village Areas) Ordinance Goes into Effect 1 January 1925
Establishment of the Zionist Revisionist Movement 1925
Palestine Arab Workers Society Is Established 21 March 1925
Anti-Balfour Demonstrations in Palestine 25 March 1925 - 1 April 1925
14th Zionist Congress Is Held in Vienna 18 August 1925 - 31 August 1925
Correction of Land Registers Ordinance, No. 12 16 February 1926
The Palestine Gendarmerie Is Disbanded and the Palestine Police Reorganized 1 April 1926
Collective Punishments Ordinance Is Issued 16 May 1926
Municipal Elections Are Held in Palestine April 1927
Powerful Earthquake in Palestine and Transjordan 11 July 1927
15th Zionist Congress Is Held in Basel 30 August 1927 - 11 September 1927
Land Settlement Ordinance No. 9 30 May 1928
7th Palestinian National Congress Meets in Jerusalem 20 June 1928 - 27 June 1928
Tension Over al-Buraq/ Western Wall 24 September 1928 - 30 October 1928
Islamic Conference in Defense of al-Buraq and Muslim Holy Places in Jerusalem 1 November 1928
White Paper (Amery) on Status Quo at al-Buraq / Western Wall 27 November 1928 - 27 December 1928
16th Zionist Congress Is Held in Zurich 28 July 1929 - 11 August 1929
Protection of Cultivators Ordinance No. 27 31 July 1929
al-Buraq / Western Wall Disturbances 15 August 1929 - 29 August 1929
The British Form a Commission of Inquiry on Disturbances at al-Buraq / Western Wall 13 September 1929
The British Issue the Criminal Law (Seditious Offences) Ordinance 25 October 1929
1st Palestine Arab Women Congress Is Held in Jerusalem 26 October 1929
General Conference of Palestine Arab Workers, Haifa 11 January 1930
League of Nations Council Approves the Appointment of an International Commission on al-Buraq / Western Wall 14 January 1930 - 15 May 1930
Shaw Commission Report on al-Buraq / Western Wall Disturbances 12 March 1930
4th Palestinian Delegation to London 1 April 1930 - 23 May 1930
John Hope-Simpson Sent to Palestine to Investigate Questions of Immigration, Land Settlement and Development 2 May 1930
Establishment of the Arab Bank in Jerusalem 21 May 1930 - 14 July 1930
Hanging of Palestinian Militants 17 June 1930
Hope-Simpson Report Is Published 22 August 1930 - 20 October 1930
White Paper (Passfield) of 1930 Is Published 20 October 1930
Report of the International Commission on al-Buraq / Western Wall 1 December 1930
MacDonald's Reassurance to Weizmann 13 February 1931
Establishment of Irgun April 1931
17th Zionist Congress Is Held in Basel 30 June 1931 - 15 July 1931
Lewis French and the Palestine Development Scheme 19 July 1931 - April 1932
Great Britain Issues the Palestine (Defence) Order in Council, 1931 23 July 1931
2nd British Census of Palestine November 1931
Pan-Islamic Congress Is Held in Jerusalem 7 December 1931 - 17 December 1931
Challenging the Pan-Islamic Congress, a Conference of the Palestinian Islamic Nation Is Convened 11 December 1931
An Arab National Conference Meets on the Sidelines of the Pan-Islamic Congress 13 December 1931
Arab Youth Congress Meets in Jaffa 4 January 1932
Establishment of the Istiqlal Party 2 August 1932
Establishment of the Arab National Fund September 1932 - 8 August 1935
Creation of the Arab Agricultural Bank 1933
Increase in Jewish Immigration from Germany 1933 - 1935
18th Zionist Congress Is Held in Prague 21 August 1933 - 3 September 1933
Protection of Cultivators Ordinance, No. 37 31 August 1933
General Strike in Palestine 27 October 1933
Murison Commission of Inquiry 4 January 1934
Death of Musa Kazim Husseini 26 March 1934
Foundation of Four Palestinian Parties December 1934 - October 1935
Oil Pipeline Connecting Northern Iraq to Haifa Opens Officially January 1935
The British Issue the Press Ordinance 17 January 1935
19th Zionist Congress Meets in Lucerne 20 August 1935 - 4 September 1935
Nuremberg Laws and Jewish Immigration 15 September 1935
Arms Shipment to the Haganah October 1935
Death of Shaykh Izzeddin al-Qassam 12 November 1935 - 21 November 1935
Joint Memorandum of Palestinian Parties 25 November 1935
Revival of the Legislative Council Idea December 1935 - March 1936