Origins of the Israeli Polity: Palestine under the Mandate

By Dan Horowitz; Moshe Lissak | Go to book overview

1
Introduction: The Historical and Sociological Perspectives

The Yishuv: Historical Background

Under the British Mandate, Palestine was a state without a national identity which contained two national movements seeking statehood. From a juridical point of view the nationality of this territorial entity was "Palestine." But, as the Palestine Royal Commission (better known as the Peel Commission) concluded in 1937: "It is time, surely, that Palestinian 'citizenship' . . . should be recognized as what it is, as nothing but a legal formula devoid of moral meaning." This statement was based on the realization that each national community--the Arab majority and the Jewish minority--possessed a separate national identity. Moreover, there was never a time when the primary loyalty of either group was focused on the formal framework of the Mandatory government. As early as the beginning of the Mandate, the first indications of separate embryonic political systems appeared. These later developed into nearly autonomous political systems oriented symbolically and institutionally to wider frameworks: the Zionist movement in one case and the Arab national movement in the other. As a result, Mandatory Palestine could not be considered a nucleus of a nation-state for two reasons: the population was divided into two separate ethnonational groups, and each group saw

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