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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: League of Nations
31 December 1934


REPORT

by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the
Council of the League of Nations
on the Administration of
Palestine and Trans-Jordan

For the Year 1934


Report by His Majesty's Government in the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
to the Council of the League of Nations on the
Administration of Palestine and Trans-Jordan
for the year 1934


PALESTINE.

INTRODUCTORY.
Position, etc.


Palestine lies on the western edge of the continent of Asia between latitude 30° N. and 33° N., Longitude 34° 30 E. and 35° 30' E.

On the south it is bounded by Egyptian and Saudi Arabian territory, on the east by Trans-Jordan, on the north by the French Mandated Territories of Syria and the Lebanon, and on the west by the Mediterranean.

The boundaries are described as follows:--

Area and Climate.

2. The average length of Palestine from south to north is about 160 miles and its extreme width from east to west is less than 70 miles, the total area being approximately 10,100 square miles inclusive of a water area of 261 square miles (the Dead Sea, Lake Tiberias and Lake Huleh). In size it is therefore comparable to Wales or Belgium. 3. The climate of Palestine, affected by the neighbouring deserts of Arabia and Nubia as well as by nearby temperate zones, is characterized generally by a dry, warm, but not excessively hot summer, and a mild winter with heavy periodical rainfalls accompanied by high cold winds; frost is rare. But the typical climate is varied by the diverse topography of the country. In the south and south-west there are wide expanses of sand dunes and desert. The remainder of the country falls naturally into three longitudinal strips--the maritime plain, the mountainous regions (or central highlands), and the Jordan valley. Each of these strips, which are more closely described below, is climatically distinct.

The climate of the maritime plain is warm but equable; the heat of summer and the cold of winter are both tempered by the westerly winds from the Mediterranean. In the central highlands there is a greater range of temperature both daily and seasonal, and the maximum temperature is a few degrees lower than in the coastal plains. Snow and hail occasionally fall in Jerusalem and Hebron, and the winter storms are accompanied by penetrating winds which necessitate the use of clothing suitable for a cold English climate.

The Jordan valley is tropical. The high air pressure and the excessive heat in summer combine to produce most oppressive conditions, but the winter in this region is warm and balmy.

The maritime plain and the central highlands are both healthy, though the one, on account of greater humidity, is relaxing in its effects, while the other, through sudden changes of temperature, predisposes to chills and respiratory complaints.

4. The following records are typical of the three climatic zones:--
Maritime
Plain,
Haifa
Central
Highlands,
Jerusalem
Jordan
Valley,
Tiberias
Mean temperature.......

Mean daily maximum
temperature ..........
Mean daily minimum

Absolute maximum
temperature...........
Absolute minimum
temperature...........
Relative humidity
Summer
Winter
Summer
Winter
Summer
Winter
Summer

Winter

Summer
Winter
77°F.
60°F.
--
--
--
--
104°F.

35°F.

69 per cent.
70 per cent.
70°F.
52°F.
83°F.
60°F.
60°F.
44°F.
102°F.

21°F.

55 per cent.
68 per cent.
83°F.
62°F.
95°F.
72°F.
71°F.
54°F.
114°F.

34°F.

51 per cent.
64 per cent.

5. Rainfall is of vital importance in Palestine and any reduction in its quantity arouses concern for the prospects of agriculture and water conservation generally. The mean volume of annual rainfall is roughly equal to that of the rainfall in the east of
England.

There are two well-marked periods of precipitation; the former rain in October and November is not usually large; during December, January, and February, the rainfall steadily increases, in March it begins to abate, and it is practically ended in April. The characteristic winds are the moist west and south-west of winter and the dry north and north-west of summer. Desert heat is brought by the sirocco from the hot deserts of the south or east generally in April and May and occasionally in September and October.

6. Along the greater part of the western seaboard lies a stretch of fertile plain of sand and sandy loam soil. In the south this plain has an average width of about 20 miles, but it gradually narrows to the north until at Mount Carmel, near Haifa, the hills approach to within a few hundred yards of the sea. Beyond Carmel the plain widens again, but in this area it is marshy and malarial.

The second strip consists of two distinct mountainous regions divided sharply by the plain of Esdraelon. To the north of that plain are the mountains of Galilee extending beyond the Syrian frontier and rising at Jebel Jermak to a height of 3,934 feet above sea-level; to the south are the mountains of Samaria and Judea which in places reach heights little less than those of Galilee. Most of this second strip of country is desolate and stony, but at irregular intervals there occur stretches of fertile land capable of deep
tillage.

The plain of Esdraelon, which cuts so sharply through the mountain system of Palestine, is roughly triangular in shape. Though the soil is here of a heavier and more clayey texture than that of the coastal plain, Esdraelon is proverbially fertile and is especially suitable for cereal production.

The third and eastern strip of country is the Jordan valley, a natural depression which, starting from sea-level in the extreme north of the country, falls gradually to a depth of 1,300 feet below that level at the Dead Sea about 100 miles to the south.

7. The capital of Palestine is Jerusalem, situated in the midst of the hills of Judea, and the principal towns are Haifa, with its modern harbour, in the north at the entrance to the plain of Esdraelon; Jaffa, a second port which lies some 40 miles west-north-west of Jerusalem; Tel Aviv, which is contiguous to Jaffa; and Nablus, the ancient Sichem, in the hills of Samaria. Jerusalem has a majority of Jewish inhabitants; in Haifa the people are predominantly Arab, though there is a large Jewish element; Tel Aviv is an entirely Jewish township of 120,000 inhabitants. In Jaffa a large majority of the people are Arabs, and in Nablus, apart from a small community of Samaritans, all the people are Arabs.

Other important towns where the population consists of both Arabs and Jews are Hebron, 20 miles to the south of Jerusalem; Tiberias, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee; and Safad, a remote town in mountainous country in the extreme north of Palestine.

Changes in Personnel, 1934.

8. Mr. R. A. Furness, C.B.E., formerly Oriental Secretary to the High Commissioner for Egypt, has been appointed as Press Officer.

Mr. D. W. Gumbley, C.B.E., at one time Inspector-General, Posts and Telegraphs, and Director of Civil Aviation in `Iraq, assumed duty as Director of Civil Aviation in Palestine in December.

Mr. A. M. Hyamson, O.B.E., retired from the post of Director of Immigration in April, and was succeeded by Mr. E. Mills, C.B.E., with the title of Commissioner for Migration and
Statistics.

The personal staff of the High Commissioner now consists of Lieut. D. J. A. Stewart, Royal Scots Fusiliers, A.D.C., and Mr. R. Poston, Private Secretary.

Mr. S. H. Perowne, Assistant District Commissioner, Northern District, was transferred to Malta in December on appointment as Assistant Secretary in the Office of the Lieutenant-Governor of the Island.

His Honour Judge C. R. W. Seton, M.C., President of the District Court, Haifa, has been appointed by His Majesty to be a Puisne Judge in Jamaica.

Mr. P. C. Hubbard, formerly Magistrate in the Solomon Islands, joined the Palestine Service in December in the capacity of a Chief Magistrate.

Mr. D. G. Harris, C.S.I., C.I.E., has been selected for appointment as Irrigation Adviser. Mr. Harris was formerly Consulting Engineer to the Government of India and Chief Adviser to the Government of India and Provincial Governments on matters of irrigation.

Public Security.

9. The predisposing causes of unrest in Palestine which have been recorded in previous Reports were not absent in 1934. Arab nationalism is, if anything, more articulate and the Arab Press, speaking with as many inflexions as the interests of various factions may dictate, remains of one mind in its attitude towards Government policy in Palestine, and it is the Press, which echoes public and private utterances and opinions of Arab leaders, that must be the main index of the feeling of politically-minded Arabs.

The general allegation is that in furthering Jewish immigration and permitting the purchase of land by Jews the Government is encompassing the economic annihilation of the Arab population.

10. In January certain Arab processions in protest against the Government policy were held in the principal towns, subject to certain conditions and within certain limits prescribed by Government. All the conditions laid down were carefully observed and the processions passed off peacefully. In August, Arab youths formed themselves into patrols to watch the coast south of Haifa with the declared object of defeating any attempt to land immigrants illegally, claiming that the steps taken by the police to that end were designedly inadequate. One of these patrols was set upon by the Jewish settlers and an Arab scout severely injured. But the trouble did not spread, and when it was announced that attempts by individuals, however well-intentioned, to take the law into their own hands would not be tolerated, and that special measures were being taken to check illicit entry into Palestine, the Arab patrols were disbanded.

On 2nd November, the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, a strike of protest was called by the Arab Executive. It was generally observed and took place without incident.

11. There was much less tree-cutting in Jewish settlements, which speaks well for the efficacy of the preventive measures described in previous Reports. Trespass upon lands in Jewish ownership in the form either of squatting or of grazing was, however, prevalent, and this method of obstructing the sale of lands to Jews, as indeed the attempt to stop illegal Jewish immigration, may perhaps be ascribed in some degree to the influence of the Arab Press. In one or two cases, Arab claims to possession of land which had thus changed ownership were pressed with violence; Jewish occupiers were assaulted and Jewish watchmen discharged their firearms. Only the application of the Land Disputes (Possession) Ordinance, 1932, averted serious consequences.

12. Further elements making for unrest were supplied by the local jealousies aroused by municipal elections, and by the animosity between Jewish Labour and Revisionists. Arab and Jewish newspapers respectively demanded and denounced a Legislative Council with equal vigour.

The differences between the Arab leaders, largely a reflection of family rivalry, were prominent, in particular during the Jerusalem elections which ended in a victory of the Husseini over the Nashashibi family.

The ill-feeling which had estranged Jewish Labour and Revisionists so markedly since the murder of Dr. Arlosoroff in 1933 was accentuated by Revisionist competition in the labour market at non-union rates of pay. The fact that the Jewish Farmers' Federation in its employment of workers gave indications of aligning itself with the Revisionists did not mend matters, for the citrus groves are an all-important field of employment which the Union is not prepared to relinquish to non-union labour, Jewish or Arab. The members of the Union carried their opposition to the length of assaulting Revisionists and interfering with their assemblies; fisticuffs were not uncommon in the streets of Tel Aviv, and in one instance an organized crowd of 1,500 labourers beset a Revisionist meeting in Haifa and stoned the participants. However, towards the end of the year a truce was negotiated through the instrumentality of the Jewish Agency. Minor incidents were provoked in Jewish centres by the activities of zealots who took exception to open breaches of Sabbath observance by their co-religionists.

A strike was declared in May to evince Jewish displeasure at the paucity of the half-yearly Labour Schedule; unruly crowds gathered in the streets of Tel Aviv and had to be dispersed by the police, with a few injuries on both sides. Jewish labour has not refrained from using force to exclude Arab workmen from Jewish enterprises, especially on building in the towns. Notwithstanding the enactment, as foreshadowed in last year's Report (Introduction, paragraph 57) of an Ordinance which makes it an offence to picket peacefully where the issue has arisen from causes connected with the race, religion, and language of employees, members of the Union in organized groups beset premises on which Arabs were employed by or for Jews. This systematic picketing often ended in violence and led to many arrests and convictions of the Jewish picketers. Quick to profit by this example, Arabs were beginning at the close of the year to adopt similar tactics as a means of prevailing upon non-Jewish employers to pay off their skilled Jewish workers.

13. There was an outbreak of highway robbery in the late autumn, but it was promptly dealt with by the police and the ringleaders were sentenced to imprisonment.

The outlaw, Abu Jildeh, was eventually captured in April, and was sentenced to death for murder and hanged.

14. It speaks highly for the efficiency of the Police and its intelligence service that, despite all these potentialities and opportunities for serious disorder, the outward tranquillity of Palestine may be said not to have been sensibly disturbed during 1934.

15. In connection with the disturbances which took place in Jaffa on 27th October, 1933 (see last year's Report, Introduction, paragraph 9), eighteen Arab leaders were arrested. Judgment was pronounced on 19th March, 1934, by the Chief Magistrate of Jaffa, who imposed a sentence of ten months' imprisonment with hard labour on ten of the accused and five months' imprisonment with hard labour on five others, the remaining three being acquitted.

Appeals were lodged against all the convictions, and were heard on 2nd July, when fourteen of the fifteen accused were discharged conditionally upon entering into a bond of P.100 to be of good behaviour for a period of three years and to come up for sentence when called upon during that period.

Sheikh Abdul Kader Muzaffar alone declined to enter into a bond of this kind and was sentenced to six months' imprisonment, which he duly served. He will remain under police supervision for one year after the expiration of his sentence.

16. Two Hebrew newspapers (one of them twice) and one Arabic newspaper were prosecuted for publishing false news likely to endanger the public peace, and three Hebrew newspapers were prosecuted for contempt of court in connection with the Arlosoroff murder trial. Convictions were obtained in all these cases. Four Arabic newspapers (one of them three times and another twice) were suspended, under the provisions of the Press Ordinance, 1933, for periods varying between one week and three months. Eleven foreign newspapers or periodicals were excluded from Palestine under the same Ordinance for terms varying from one month to one year.

17. The great development of traffic on the roads, coupled with the carelessness of drivers, has led to a large number of motor accidents. Traffic police have been increased and measures taken for the more effective control of junctions, especially in the towns, by the construction of islands. Automatic traffic control is being tried in Tel Aviv. The Palestine Automobile Club has put up road-signs in considerable numbers.

Policy.

18. The Municipal Corporations Ordinance was enacted on the 12th January, and copies have been placed at the disposal of the Permanent Mandates Commission. Elections of Councillors have taken place in accordance with the provisions of the Ordinance in 22 out of the 23 municipal areas scheduled. By the end of the year or the beginning of 1935 twenty newly-elected Councils were in being, and conditions had thus been created wherein representative Palestinians of all communities and races might acquire training in the common management of public affairs under a modern code of municipal legislation.

19. At the beginning of December the High Commissioner, after his return from the United Kingdom, explained to a delegation consisting of the Acting President and members of the Arab Executive Committee the position in regard to the establishment of the Legislative Council in the following terms:--

Jewish Immigration into Palestine.

20. The Department of Immigration has been reorganized; an extensive measure of decentralization has been introduced; arrears of outstanding applications have been liquidated; formalities have been simplified and the time taken to deal with new applications has been considerably reduced.

21. Further measures have been adopted to combat illicit immigration in addition to those mentioned in paragraph 44 of this section of the previous Report. Additional police have been recruited for the patrol of the land frontiers to prevent, with the assistance of units of the Trans-Jordan Frontier Force, surreptitious entry on the east and north-east; a Marine Preventive Force is now based on the ports of Jaffa and Haifa, comprising a British police inspector and 25 men, who board all vessels, check the crews, search for stowaways, and prohibit the landing of any person who is rejected by the Passport Control; persons detained as illegal entrants are prosecuted and, on conviction, are required to serve a term of imprisonment before deportation.

22. If they wish their entry to be facilitated, travellers must produce a recent photograph of themselves on arrival at the port or frontier controls and this is affixed to the entry card which is made out in respect of each traveller and constitutes a check on their departure within the stipulated time. Travellers who are found to overstay the stipulated period of residence are prosecuted and deported.

23. The smuggling of immigrants into Palestine has been carried out in a variety of ways. The majority of illicit immigrants enter the country by way of the northern and north-eastern frontiers, where frontier bands, mostly of Arabs, are known to be engaged in
this illegal and lucrative traffic. In addition, sailing-boats from Syria and Egypt have engaged in the smuggling trade, landing their cargoes of illicit immigrants at unfrequented parts of the coast; special steamers have operated in the traffic from bases in the Greek islands; and officers and crews of regular steamers calling at Palestine ports have been detected participating in the surreptitious landing of illicit immigrants.

Severe penalties of fine and imprisonment have been imposed by the Courts in a number of cases on persons convicted of the offence of smuggling illicit immigrants into Palestine, and wherever possible these persons are also deported.

24. Besides these measures of prevention, the system of deposit has operated to prevent the illicit settlement of travellers.

25. The control of illicit immigration has been rendered more difficult by the unwillingness of the public to co-operate with the authorities, and it is practically impossible for the police to obtain information from the general public to aid them in detecting cases of smuggling or in locating illicit immigrants.

26. The Palestine Government is indebted to the Egyptian Government for its co-operation in controlling the traffic in illicit immigrants from Egypt by preventing suspect sailing vessels from leaving Egyptian ports for Palestine and by keeping known organizers of the traffic under close supervision; and also to the authorities in Syria who have insisted on the deposit of passports and return tickets by travellers in transit. The Royal Air Force has lent valuable assistance by aerial observation of the coast, and effective use has been made of the police wireless telegraph stations and of the tugs at Haifa Harbour.

27. Illicit immigration is not confined to Jews and there have been many Hauranese among the illegal immigrants. Numbers of these are detected at the frontiers and are summarily deported.

The number of persons deported during the year for immigration offences was 2,407, of whom 772 were Jews.

28. Towards the end of 1934, there were grounds for believing that the preventive measures taken by the Palestine Government had resulted in a substantial reduction of illicit immigration.

29. Labour schedules were approved by the High Commissioner during 1934 for 14,300 Jewish immigrants, 11,915 men and 2,385 women. Of this total, 3,577 certificates were allocated to German Jews. Under the new system by which the schedule is compiled in occupational groups, the second half-yearly schedule of 7,500 immigration certificates was classified, in the following divisions:--

3,800 for agriculture.
1,400 for industry.
1,100 for building.
1,200 for other purposes.

Four hundred immigration certificates of the approved schedule for the half-year ending the 31st March, 1935, have been allocated by the Executive of the Jewish Agency for skilled farm labour to be selected by the Jewish Federation in close co-operation with the Palestine Offices of the Agency abroad.

The admission of Jewish children from Germany between the ages of 15 years and 16 years completed was facilitated by the issue of 350 immigration certificates in 1933-34 and a similar number for 1934-35. These children were admitted on the financial responsibility of the Jewish Agency and were placed in various Jewish settlements and institutions by a special department of the Central Bureau for the Settlement of German Jews, which administers, together with a Board of Trustees, special funds collected from various sources for the training and education of Jewish German children in agricultural settlements and suitable educational institutions.

30. The number of Jewish capitalist settlers in 1934 showed a substantial increase over previous years, 5,124 Jews in category A (i) (persons in possession of at least P.1,000) having entered the country, as compared with 3,250 in 1933 and 727 in 1932.

Arab Affairs.

31. The Arab community of Palestine suffered a very severe loss in the death of Musa Kazem Pasha al Husseini at the age of 84 years. Musa Kasem Pasha had a long and distinguished career as a civil servant under the Turkish authorities, and, since the Occupation, he was the leader of the Arab national movement in Palestine. He earned the esteem of all sections of the population by his personal integrity and disinterestedness.

His place as President of the Arab Executive has been left unfilled, an acting appointment only being made. Yacoub Farraj, the Vice-President, holds this acting office.

32. The Arab Executive concerned itself almost entirely with the questions of Jewish immigration and of the sale of lands to Jews, and on the High Commissioner's return from the United Kingdom in the autumn they submitted, in an interview, a memorandum of their views as to the dangers arising out of Jewish immigration and sale of lands. The High Commissioner made the following statement in reply:--

33. The Supreme Moslem Council has made satisfactory progress in the re- organization of its administration and finances; and the margin between the expenditure and revenue of the Sharia Courts has shown some reduction.

The Council has begun to take an active interest in the question of the sale of lands by Arabs and is now vigorously campaigning with a view to deterring prospective vendors or to securing that land, if it must be sold, is acquired by other Arabs.

34. Mention is made elsewhere in the Report of the holding of a second Arab Fair in Jerusalem during April and May; and further indications of increasing interest on the part of Arab leaders in commercial development are to be found in the additional capital issued by the Arab Bank and the establishment of an Arab Agricultural Bank, the foundation of an Arab cinematographic enterprise, the enlargement of Arab participation in the motor-transport industry, particularly in omnibus services, and the appearance of a magazine in Arabic devoted to economic affairs.

Jewish Affairs.

35. In his opening statement before the Permanent Mandates Commission in June, 1933, the Accredited Representative made mention of the negotiations which had been undertaken by Government, acting as intermediary between the Central Agudath Israel and the General Council (Vaad Leumi) of the Jewish community, with a view to providing within the framework of the religious courts of the Jewish community for the determination of cases of personal status affecting members of the Agudath Israel.

The hope and intention of Government are by this means to satisfy the legitimate requirements of the Agudath Israel without perpetuating the schism in the Jewish population of Palestine which separate recognition of the Agudath Israel as a community under the Religious Communities Organization Ordinance, 1926, might involve.

As a result of these negotiations, provisional heads of agreement had been framed by representatives of the two parties and these were duly referred to the constituent bodies. This reference was productive, as might have been expected, of many suggestions for modifying the tentative arrangements, in some cases seeking radically to vary the general principles upon which those arrangements had been founded. It was therefore necessary to resume conversations but, owing to preoccupations arising out of the municipal elections, these conversations did not advance the issue appreciably up till the end of the year. It is hoped that they will be shortly resumed again and carried to finality.

Attention is invited in this connection to page 3 of the report of the Representative of Czechoslovakia on the twenty-fifth Session of the Permanent Mandates Commission relating to the petition of the Waad Adath Ashkenazim for recognition as a separate religious community, in which the following passage occurs:--

Relations meanwhile between the Central Agudath Israel and the Vaad Leumi have been cordial and, indeed, the two sections co-operated closely and harmoniously in the campaign for the nomination and election of Jewish councillors to the Municipal Corporation of Jerusalem. Among the six Jewish members elected was one specifically representing the Central Agudath Israel who was put forward on the general list of the Vaad Leumi.

36. The claim of Vaad Leumi on behalf of the Rabbinical Council for a contribution from public funds towards the maintenance of the Jewish Religious Courts has been dealt with in Chapter 10, page 85.

37. By the intervention of Government, an agreement designed to satisfy the requirements of Jewish orange-growers principally for agricultural labour was reached between the Jewish Agency and the Jewish Farmers Federation whereunder agricultural workers in rural areas abroad of not less than three years' experience are to be selected by a representative of the Federation sent from Palestine for the purpose, acting in conjunction with the Agency's European officers.

Four hundred certificates of the most recent Labour Schedule were received by the Jewish Agency for these needs.

The claims of the Central Agudath Israel for an allocation of certificates to its adherents in Central Europe are similarly met by the Jewish Agency's offices in co-operation with the representatives of the Agudath Israel.

38. A meeting of the General Council of the Zionist Organization, held in Jerusalem in April, was attended by many delegates from abroad, including the President of the Jewish Agency, Dr. Nahum Sokolow, and members of the London Executive.

Dr. Ch. Weizmann visited Palestine in February in connection with schemes for the immigration and settlement of German Jews, and in November entered upon his duties as Director of the Daniel Sieff Research Institute for Agricultural Chemistry at Rehobot.

Chaim Nachman Bialik, generally appraised as the foremost Hebrew man of letters and the greatest Hebrew poet of modern times, died in July and was buried in Tel Aviv, where he had lived for many years. Bialik contributed largely to the modern revival of the Hebrew language, and his influence on Hebrew literature and on the cultural development of the Jewish community in Palestine has been profound.

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