Constitutional Proposals Put forward by the Arab States Delegations
to the Roundtable Conference on Palestine
London, 30 September 1946
1. The first step would be for the High Commissioner to establish, by nomination and after consultation with the leading Palestine elements, a Provisional Government consisting of seven Arab and three Jewish Ministers of Palestinian nationality. The legislative and executive powers of the present administration in Palestine would be transferred to the Provisional Government as soon as it has been appointed. The High Commissioner would retain a power of veto throughout the transition period.
2. Simultaneously, the High Commissioner would initiate the preparation by the Provisional Government of an electoral register on the basis of one stage adult male suffrage. As soon as this register was prepared, the Provisional Government would hold elections for a Constituent Assembly in accordance with an electoral law to be enacted by them. This constituent Assembly would consist of 60 members. The electoral law should provide for the adequate representation in the Constituent Assembly of all the important sections of citizenry, as defined in paragraph 4 (vi) (a) below, in accordance with their respective numbers.
The representation of Arabs and Jews in the Provisional Government would be without prejudice to the proportions to be determined in the constitution for the representation of Arabs and Jews in the Legislative Assembly. The method of election of the Constituent Assembly would similarly be without prejudice to the permanent electoral law (see paragraph 5 below}.
3. The Provisional Government would prepare and submit to the Constituent Assembly a draft constitution for Palestine. If the Constituent Assembly proved unable to reach decision on the terms of the constitution within a period of six months from the date of its opening, the Provisional Government would reconsider their draft in the light of the Assembly's debates, would revise it if necessary, and would then enact it themselves.
4 The Provisional Government in drafting or enacting the constitution, and the Constituent Assembly in debating and voting on it, would be bound by directives issued by the High Commissioner. With the exception of these binding directives, the constitution, as decided by the Constituent Assembly would not be subject to the power of veto by the High Commissioner. These directives would provide for the embodiment in the constitution of the following principles:
(i) Palestine should be a unitary State.
(ii) It should have a democratic constitution, with an elected legislature.
(iii) The constitution should provide guarantees for the sanctity of the Holy Places, covering inviolability, maintenance, freedom of access and freedom of worship in accordance with the status quo.
(iv) The constitution should guarantee, subject to suitable safeguards, freedom of religious practice in accordance with the status quo throughout Palestine (including maintenance of separate religious courts for matters of personal status).
(v) The law of naturalisation should provide among other conditions that the applicant should be a legal resident of Palestine for a continuous period of ten years before his application.
(vi) The constitution should provide guarantees for
(a) Full rights of citizenship for:
(1) Any person falling under Part I and subject to (3) below, any person falling under Part II of the Palestinian Citizenship Order, 1925-41.
(2) Any person who acquired Palestinian citizenship by naturalization before May 1939.
(3) Any person who acquired Palestinian citizenship after May 1939 under the Palestinian Citizenship Order, 1925-41, and has been permanently resident in Palestine for a period of ten years.
(4) Any person who in future acquires Palestinian citizenship by naturalisation under the new law of naturalisation referred to in sub-paragraph (v) above.
(b) The right of any resident in Palestine to apply for and acquire Palestinian citizenship on the same terms and conditions without discrimination on grounds of race, religion or language.
(c) The right of religious bodies or other societies and individuals to maintain, in additon to educational establishments administered by public authority, private schools and universities, subject to the compulsory teaching of Arabic in the schools and to Government control for the purpose of maintaining educational standards and preventing subversive teaching with the object of creating common allegiance.
(d) The right of Jews to employ Hebrew as a second official language in districts where they form an absolute majority.
(e)-1. Securing that electoral law for the Legislature shall provide for the adequate representation of all the important sections of the citizenry, as defined in sub-paragraph (a) above, provided that in no case shall the number of Jewish representatives exceed one-third of the total number of the members.
2. Securing that the constitution shall provide for the adequate reflection in the Executive and the Administration of the distribution of the representation in the legislature.
(vii) Unless and until legislation provides otherwise, Jewish immigration into Palestine should be entirely prohibited, and the existing land transfer restrictions should remain unchanged. The constitution should provide that any change in the above two matters can only be effected by law requiring the consent of the Arabs in Palestine as expressed by a majority of the Arab members of the Legislative Assembly.
(viii) The guarantees concerning the Holy Places should be embodied in a declaration made to the General Assembly of the United Nations by the Independent Palestine State, which would bind itself thereby that those guarantees should not subsequently modified without the consent of that Assembly.
(ix) The guarantees concerning the rights of the Jewish citizens which are prescribed in the preceding provisions should not be subject to amendment without the consent of the Jewish citizens of Palestine as expressed by a majority of the Jewish members of the Legislative Assembly.
(x) Machinery should be provided, through the establishment of a Supreme Court, for determining whether any legislation is inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution, and it should be open to any citizen of Palestine to have recourse to that tribunal.
5. When the constitution had ben adopted, the Provisional Government would proceed forthwith to hold the first parliamentary elections. The first Head of the Independent Palestine state would then. be appointed by whatever procedure was laid down for the purpose in the constitution. The Head of the state would forthwith assume full powers under the constitution. The Mandatory Power should effect the termination of the Mandate and recognise the independence of Palestine. A Treaty or Alliance should be concluded to define the future relations between His Majesty’s Government and the Independent state of Palestine.
6. During the transition period, substantial numbers of Palestinians should be progressively brought into the administration.
7. Every effort should be made to complete with the least possible delay the stages described in the preceding paragraphs, notwithstanding the non-cooperation of any section of the Palestine citizenry. The assumption of powers by the Head of the Palestine state should take place not later than 31 December, 1948.
Source: The Delegation of the Arab Higher Committee for Palestine. A Collection of Official Documents Relating to the Palestine Question 1917-1947 Submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations. New York: October 1, 1947.