A Piece of History
The British gained their mandate over Palestine (now, modern-day Israel & the Palestinian Territories) in 1922 but by 1947, one year before it ended, they had had enough. They were not able to find a solution to the integration of “a national home for the Jewish people” in the region, and during the mandate period, had faced revolts by both the Arabs and the Jews.
Whilst in the home of a Palestinian family in the Beirut Palestinian camp of Sabra & Chatila, I was shown a passport that the family had kept from their father. I found this document incredible. I had heard of Palestinians keeping the keys of the homes they had fled in 1948, on the creation of the Jewish state, but I hadn’t thought of the documents that were issued during the period of British rule.
I was asked if with this document, it gave them, the children, and now grandchildren of its bearer, the right to immigrate to the UK, but reading the small print in the back of it, this was not the case.
The passport was issued in Jerusalem, and printed in English, Arabic and Hebrew. It bore the stamps of arrival in Lebanon, newly independent after the French mandate of Lebanon & Syria.
The preamble to the passport is practically identical to my own, current, passport:
By His Majesty’s High Commissioner for Palestine.
These are to request and require in the Name of His Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford him every assistance and protection of which he may stand in need.
The Palestinians of Lebanon now have little chance to “pass freely without let or hindrance”.