Hope-Simpson Commission (1930)

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British commission of inquiry into economic conditions in Palestine.

The Hope-Simpson Commission was established in the wake of the August 1929 Western (Wailing) Wall disturbances. A previous commission, the Shaw Commission, had concluded in March 1930 that the causes for the 1929 disturbances were Palestinian fear of Jewish immigration and land purchases. Because the commission recommended the curtailment of both, the Labor government of Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald appointed a commission of inquiry under Sir John Hope-Simpson to investigate land settlement, immigration, and development. The Hope-Simpson Report (Command 3686), issued on 30 August 1930, found that almost 30 percent of Palestinians were landless, presumably because of Jewish land purchases, and that Palestinian unemployment was exacerbated by a Jewish boycott of Arab labor.

The assumptions and recommendations of Hope-Simpson were incorporated in a policy paper called the Passfield White Paper of 1930 (Command 3692), which recommended restrictions on Jewish immigration and land purchases consistent with the economic absorptive capacity of Palestine. The recommendations caused a political furor in Great Britain. Under pressure from the Zionists and their supporters, MacDonald issued a February 1931 letter, known as the MacDonald Letter, or to Arabs as the Black Letter, which in effect reversed the policy of the White Paper of 1930. Consequently, the Hope-Simpson Commission resulted in no permanent change in British policy toward Palestine.

See also macdonald, ramsay; shaw commission; western wall disturbances; white papers on palestine.


Palestine Government. A Survey of Palestine (1946), 2 vols. Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1991.

Porath, Y. The Palestinian Arab National Movement, 19291939. London: Frank Cass, 1977.

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