The British Mandate: Creation of Jordan

Why was almost 80% of the Mandate territory of Palestine given to Arab Jordan?


The French occupation of Syria brought nationalists to Amman where they called on Abdullah, Sharif Hussein’s second son, to recover Syria. In response, Abdullah led a force of tribesman in November 1920 to a small town of Maan in the Kingdom of Hejaz, situated today in southern Lebanon. He waited for three months in Maan for the British reaction which worried them that he might complicate their situation in Transjordan where their presence was only nominal.

Britain finally took a decision by 1921 whereby Palestine was to be included in the formal Palestine Mandate. Moreover, as a gesture to Britain’s wartime promises with Arabs, they decided to exempt the territory of Transjordan from the provisions of mandate related to the Jewish National Home. In return, they asked Abdullah to abandon fighting for Syria and instead took charge of the administration of British-controlled Transjordan.

A British memorandum was presented to the League of Nations in 1922 where it was affirmed that the mandate document and its provisions were not pertinent to the territory separated by the British known as Transjordan. This was 80% of the mandate land which was taken away from the Jews as their prospective homeland to their much agitation.

In a conference of British official in Cairo, it was finalized that Abdullah would be given the government of Transjordan, supervised by the British high commissioner in Palestine. A part of the conference envisaged:

“… establishing a Jewish National Home in Palestine west of the Jordan and a separate Arab entity in Palestine east of the Jordan. Abdullah, if installed in authority in Transjordan, could preside over the creation of such an Arab entity.”

In March of 1921, Abdullah signed a formal agreement with the British colonial secretary Winston Churchill along with Lawrence who met in Jerusalem for the purpose.

The formal recognition by the British came in 1923 where Transjordan was declared to be a government under the rule of ‘emir’ Abdullah. However, nothing was made clear concerning the standing of his domain. In Anglo-Transjordanian Agreement of 1928, the territory was recognized as an ‘emirate’. Transjordan was formally made independent from the UK in a treaty signed in 1946 which also stated “perpetual peace and friendship” between British and Jordanian Arabs while assuring emirate a continued British support. The same year, the title of Abdullah was changed to ‘king’ from ‘emir’, endorsed by his parliament and the name of the country was also changed to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

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§ 6 Responses to The British Mandate: Creation of Jordan"

  • Dorothy Duda says:

    Have been for this site for a long time, for the history. Copied it. Will sit down and read it after printing it out.
    Thank you. I am assuming it is factual.

  • Amos Shvueli, Haifa says:

    I wonder why our prime minister, when recently speaking in front of the UN assembly (A.K.A. the whole world) has not started his speaach with those facts (assuming they are facts). that particular act of the British govermnet (de-facto ceding Trans-Jordan from palestine) of subverting the meaning and language of the British mandate, given not by the British government but by the international body of that time, is the pivotal corner from which we Israelis should start counting the loss of space and land. there is a huge difference between concensual international decision and a unilateral decision, un-authorised by any body other than the British policy makers of that time.

  • Jeffrey Reiss says:

    I am very pleased to discover this site, I would like to refer your readers to the book, THE LEGAL FOUNDATION AND BORDERS OF ISRAEL UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW by Howard Grief. The book is available from in the English version; there may be a Hebrew version as the book is published by Mazo Publishers Jerusalem, Israel.

    In response to Amos Shvueli above, I would suggest that his question can be asked of every Israeli public official and Diaspora Jewish leader. I will go further to suggest that it will take a popular campaign to bring the Israeli government and the Israeli people, along with Diaspora Jews around the world, to recognize the importance of the San Remo Resolution of 1920 that expressly prohibits the Mandatory authorities from make such important, not insignificant, changes to the International Agreement of the Great Powers at the San Remo Conference. Yes, Great Britain is to this day, in violation of International Law by their actions in creating Transjordan, for what ever reason, and then further violating their Mandate by restricting Jewish immigration. I am preparing an outline of numerous “starting points” for future public statements and negotiations concerning the Rights of the Jewish People based on the grant of rights by the Great Powers. Jerusalem is another example of a right recognized as part of the “reconstituted historical homeland of the Jewish people.” I am asking that the managers of this site and its followers read Howard Grief’s book and that this dialogue continue.

  • Faruq Al Hara says:

    Dear Sir,
    What you call facts is a great misunderstanding. Jews depend on what is called a “divine promise” which is not valid for the most of humanity. By your claim any right can be taken out by any body or group depending on myth. By this claim you put more than ten million people under suffering and scattering as if you are repeating your own story. Palestine was inhabited even before your ancestors were accepted as honored guests by the local people of Palestine. So historically, I don’t think you have any claim in Palestine and even from religious point of view, Jews now are the least religious people on globe. why don’t you speak the truth and ease the suffering of innocent people and go back to those who tortured you in Europe and claim your lost rights. All the time you have been enjoying good life among Arabs and Muslims and now you are paying them back wrongly.

  • Red Sea Padestrian says:

    If Jordan should fall to the muslim brotherhood, then issues like this need to be ironed out. We should at that point go back to the San Remo Agreement designating Jordan as Palestine because that’s what it is. Jordan is Palestine – that infact is what it was set up for. The British Foreign Office have got to be forced to admit this in the International Courts.

  • Yaron says:

    So, what if the British would have decided to keep the whole of Transjordan a place for the Jewish Home? Would this mean that the whole of Palestine (todays Israel+Jordan) would be Israel today? Of course not! With relatively even more Arabs around then just in the western part, the Jewish population would never have been large enough to create their own state. They would have had no choice as to live under the Arab kings and try to gain influence through other ways then democracy as this would never exist.
    I also don’t know if the Zionists were seriously interested in any place across the Jordan river. Also, all they were promised in the Balfour Declaration was a ‘Jewish Home,’ without explaining what that was, what size, what form, including which places, etc. I also do not read about any protests from Jews about being held out of Transjordan, or even thrown out because they were already there. Were Zionists actually interested in that part as it holds hardly biblical places of jewish interest?
    Before the White Paper, all settlement took place in todays Israel and none in (Trans)Jordan and I think there was a good reason for that. I never read anything about Israel being a fertile and profitable part of the Levant, but is that not the main reason why so many people wanted to be there, especially after the Zionists did their best to bring its potency to flourish? But despite of its fertility, it took tons of hardship to build up something there, fighting malaria, heat, misfortune, etc. I could not imagine Zionist settlers wanting to do that in the Jordan desert. Besides all the biblical claims, the area of todays Israel is simply the best place to be in the area, given the climate and the soil. All the poor Arabs have is desert and oil. You only need to take the bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and then to the Dead Sea to understand this. Beyond Jerusalem, there is only desert. Israel is the green balcony at the Mediterranean Sea.
    And then, why were the Zionists so eager to accept the UN-proposal when they knew that they just had lost 76% of the country that they could have had? Were they really that humble? Come on! To me, this sounds like changing history to make Israel look better in the present (which they do not need!), but correct me if I am wrong!

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