The British Mandate

Before British occupation, Palestine was under Ottoman (Turkish) rule. Palestine’s population comprised Muslim and Christian Arabs, and a small population of Arab Jews.

In the First World War, the Ottomans supported the Germans rather than the Allied Forces. Between 1915-17, the British Government made three agreements affecting strategically-located Palestine, the ‘Hussein-McMahon Correspondence’, the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Balfour Declaration, concerned initially with securing military lines of communication, then with limiting French control in the region.

After the capture of Jerusalem in 1917, Palestine came under British Military Occupation. In 1920, it was mandated to Britain. Under the Mandate for Palestine, ratified in 1922 by the League of Nations, Britain was to facilitate self-government while safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all Palestinians, irrespective of race or religion. However, the incorporation of the Balfour Agreement also supported the establishment of a new Jewish national home in Palestine. These competing regional policies created tensions, which were to define the period of the Mandate.

Iliffe’s photographs and letters published in British magazines such as the Weekly Illustrated, document the changing landscape of the ‘Holy Land’, and reflect Britain’s ‘new imperialist’ plan to develop and modernise Palestine.