Key Documents

De Bunsen Committee 1915

The De Bunsen Committee was the first committee established by the British government to determine its policy toward the Ottoman Empire during and following World War I. The committee was established on 8 April 1915 by British Prime Minister H. H. Asquith, and was headed by Maurice de Bunsen. The committee submitted its report on 30 June 1915.[1]

Damascus Protocol 1915

The Damascus Protocol was a document given to Faisal bin Hussein on 23 May 1915 by the Arab secret societies al-Fatat and Al-‘Ah on his second visit to Damascus during a mission to consult Turkish officials in Constantinople.

The secret societies declared they would support Faisal’s father Hussein bin Ali’s revolt against the Ottoman Empire, if the demands in the protocol were submitted to the British. These demands, defining the territory of an independent Arab state to be established in the Middle East that would encompass all of the lands of Ottoman Western Asia south of the 37th parallel north,[2] became the basis of the Hussein–McMahon Correspondence.

McMahon-Hussein Correspondence 1915-1916

The McMahon–Hussein Correspondence is a series of letters that were exchanged during World War I in which the United Kingdom government agreed to recognize Arab independence after the war in exchange for the Sharif of Mecca launching the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire.

The area offered by Britain included Palestine. The correspondence was suppressed until 1939

Sykes-Picot agreement 1916

Britain, France and Russia made a secret agreement to divide up the Middle East between them

Balfour Declaration 1917

Britain, in promising support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine also promised to safeguard the rights of the Arab population

Anglo French Declaration 1918

Britain and France promised independence to the former subjects of the Ottoman Turks, including Palestine

King Crane commission. 1919

The Commission was set up by President Wilson. It went out with instructions to report the facts as it found them and reported in 1919 for the Versailles Peace Conference but it was one of the great suppressed documents of the peace-making period, only being released in 1922.

San Remo conference 1920

Haycraft_Commission report 1921

The Haycraft Commission of Inquiry was a Royal Commission set up to investigate the Jaffa riots of 1921, but its remit was widened and its report entitled “Palestine: Disturbances in May 1921”.

Palin Commission report 1920

Churchill White Paper June 1922

The Palestine Mandate 1922

Britain promised the League of Nations that it would prepare Palestine for independence, but failed to do so.

Shaw Commission Report 1929

The Shaw Report, officially the Report of the Commission on the Palestine Disturbances of August 1929, commonly known as the Shaw Commission, was the result of a British commission of inquiry, led by Sir Walter Shaw, established to investigate the violent rioting in Palestine in late August 1929.

Hope Simpson report 1929

The Report on Immigration, Land Settlement and Development, commonly referred to as the Hope Simpson Enquiry or the Hope Simpson Report, was a British Commission managed by Sir John Hope Simpson, established during August 1929 to address Immigration, Land Settlement and Development issues in British Mandate of Palestine, as recommended by the Shaw Commission, after the widespread 1929 Palestine riots.

Passfield White Paper 1930

Issued Oct 20th 1930 the paper’s tone was decidedly anti-Zionist since several of its institutions were severely criticised, including the Histadrut (General Federation of Labour) and the Jewish Agency, which both promoted Jewish employment of only Jewish labour, thereby supporting the ejection of Arabs from purchased land, most who previously worked under a tenant farming system. Like the Hope-Simpson Report, the Passfield White Paper found this Zionist policy damaging to the economic development of the Arab population. It concluded that Jewish immigration to Palestine was taking land from the Arab fellahs; sales of land to Jewish settlers should in future be restricted, and Arab unemployment levels should be a factor in considering permitted levels of Jewish immigration to Palestine. Furthermore, a legislative council should be formed which would represent the (Arab) majority of its population.

MacDonald Letter 1931

It was considered a withdrawal of the Passfield White Paper, despite the fact that Prime Minister said in parliament on 11 February 1931 that he was “very unwilling to give the letter the same status as the dominating document” i.e. the Passfield White Paper.

Peel Commission 1937

The Peel Commission published its Palestine Royal Commission-Peel Commission report in July 1937. The report admitted that the mandate was unworkable because Jewish and Arab objectives in Palestine were incompatible, and it proposed that Palestine be partitioned into three zones: an Arab state, a Jewish state, and a neutral territory containing the holy places. Although the British government initially accepted these proposals, by 1938 it had recognized that such partitioning would be infeasible, and it ultimately rejected the commission’s report.

Woodhead Commission 1938

The commission, led by Sir John Woodhead, was formed in March 1938 in response to dissension within the British government over the July 1937 Peel partition plan for Palestine and the re-ignition of the Arab revolt that had followed its promulgation. The new commission was instructed to gather evidence from the various parties and to recommend boundaries for two self-sufficient states, one Arab and one Jewish, to replace the British Mandate.

White Paper of 1939

The White Paper of 1939 was a policy paper issued by the British government, led by Neville Chamberlain, in response to the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine. After its formal approval in the House of Commons on 23 May 1939, it acted as the governing policy for Mandatory Palestine from 1939 to the 1948 British departure.

Its main finding was for a unitary Palestinian state for Arabs and Jews, and this policy obtained until the UN partition plan of 1947. After the war, the Mandate was referred to the United Nations.