Last updated on: 5/20/2008 2:22:00 PM PST

Were the British Responsible for Failing to Establish Arab Self-Governing Institutions in Palestine?



General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Albert Hourani, the late Oxford Historian, in his 1991 book titled A History of the Arab Peoples, wrote:

"From an early point in the administration of the British mandate, it became clear that it would be difficult to create any kind of structure of local government which would accommodate both the interests of the indigenous Arab inhabitants and those of the Zionists. For the latter, the important point was to keep the doors open to immigration, and this involved maintaining direct British control until the Jewish community had become large enough and had secured enough control of the economic resources of the country to be able to look after its own interests. For the Arabs, what was essential was to prevent Jewish immigration on a scale that would endanger the economic development and ultimate self-determination, and even the existence, of the Arab community. Caught between these two pressures, the policy of the British government was to retain direct control, permit immigration within limits, favor on the whole the economic development of the Jewish community, and assure the Arabs from time to time that what was happening would not be allowed to lead to their subjection... By the middle 1930s, it was becoming more difficult for Britain to maintain a balance."

1991 - Albert Hourani 



PRO (yes)

Rashid Khalidi, PhD, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, in his 1997 book titled Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness, wrote:

"Certainly, the lack of access after 1918 to state structures (or indeed to any meaningful level of government: the top posts in the mandate administration were reserved for the British) hindered the Palestinians."

1997 - Rashid I. Khalidi, DPhil 



The United Nations Division for Palestinian Rights, in a 1990 document titled "The Origins and Evolution of the Palestine Problem: 1917-1988, PART I, 1917-1947," contained the following:

"While the Mandate in principle required the development of self-governing institutions, its preamble and operative articles left no doubt that the principal thrust would be the implementation of the Balfour Declaration and the establishment of the 'Jewish national home'. British policy in Palestine during the period of the Mandate was directed to this end but, on facing strengthening Palestinian resistance, from time to time was adjusted to the force of circumstance."

1990 - United Nations (UN) 



CON (no)

Benny Morris, PhD, Professor of History at Ben-Gurion Universtiy, Beersheba, Israel, in his 2001 book titled Righteous Victims wrote:

"Between the two [Arab and Jewish] communities in Palestine, there was a crucial forty-to-fifty-year gap in levels of political development and consciousness... The Palestinian Arabs, with their fragmented, venal political elite, failed to put together effective national institutions that could have guided them towards self-sufficiency and statehood."

2001 - Benny Morris, PhD 



Don Peretz, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at State University of New York at Binghamton, in his 1996 book titled The Arab-Israel Dispute wrote:

"British officials made several unsuccessful attempts to establish self-governing institutions. In 1922, they presented a plan for a 23-member legislative council with a 12-member elected majority of 8 Muslims, 2 Jews and 2 Christians. Ten members would be appointed by the high commissioner acting as head of the council. The Jews were unenthusiastic because they would have only 2 of the 23 members. Arab nationalists rejected the plan because it was offered by Herbert Samuel, an 'ardent Zionist.' Finally, Samuel reconstituted the old advisory council, but even that was too much for Arab nationalists, who forced members of their community to resign. A year later Samuel encouraged the Arabs to establish their own self-governing Arab Agency, parallel to the Jewish Agency representing the Zionists, but he was rebuffed because such a step would be tantamount to recognizing the mandate."

1996 - Don Peretz, PhD