Advisory Council (Palestine)

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An advisory body in Palestine to the British high commissioner during the British Mandate.

Shortly after taking office as the first British high commissioner of Palestine on 1 July 1920, Sir Herbert Samuel set up a nominated advisory council (AC) pending the establishment of a legislative body. The AC was composed of twenty-one members: the high commissioner, ten British officials, and ten nominated nonofficials, of whom seven were Palestinians (four Muslims and three Christians), and three were Jews. In August 1922 Samuel proposed, as a first step to self-government in Palestine, a constitution that called for the replacement of the AC with a Legislative Council (LC), which would consist of twenty-three members: the high commissioner, ten selected officials, two elected Jews, and ten elected Palestinians.

The Zionist Organization reluctantly accepted the offer, but the Palestinians rejected it and boycotted the elections for the LC in 1923 because acceptance of the LC implied endorsement of the Mandate, whose preamble and articles promoted a Jewish national home in Palestine. Also, the Palestinians, who had been seeking a proportionally representative government, were being offered only 43 percent representation in the proposed LC, even though they were 88 percent of the population. Samuel therefore returned to the 1920 system of an AC, which was to be composed now of twenty-three members, eleven of whom would be officials (including the high commissioner); of the rest, ten would be Palestinians (eight Muslims and two Christians) and two would be Jews.

The Palestinians had not objected to the AC in 1920 because it was considered a temporary measure until a legislative body could be established and because the appointees, who were prominent individuals, did not claim to represent the community. But in May 1923, although they had accepted the government's invitation to join the new council, all but three representatives withdrew when the high commissioner associated it with the LC, which had been repudiated by the Palestinians. Consequently, the high commissioner abandoned the idea of nonofficial participation in the Palestine government, and Palestine was run, from 1923 until the end of the Mandate in 1948, by the high commissioner in consultation with an AC composed only of officials.

see also legislative council (palestine); mandate system; samuel, herbert louis.


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Philip Mattar