Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem
Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem
Palestine under Turkish rule
Turkish government in Palestine before the Great War was in effect a despotism, modified to some extent by the delegation of authority to the leading families in Syria who held estates in Palestine. The head of the Administration was the Vali in Beirut, Jerusalem being an independent Sanjak just north of Jaffa: The remainder of what is now Palestine was included in the willayat of Beirut - in the Sanjaks of Beirut, Acre and Balka (Nablus). Each Sanjak was divided into Qadas (Districts), the latter combining several Nahias (village or combination of small villages). Each of these administrative units had its own Council and posse of executive officials, as, for example, the Kaimakam in the Qada, appointed by the Turkish Government, but responsible to the Mutasarrif or Chief Executive Officer of the Sanjak. In the case of Jerusalem the latter was in direct touch with Constantinople. These Executive Officers in all the higher grades formed a distinctive Turkish bureaucracy. Turkish was the official language.
As a result of the revolution in 1908, an Ottoman Parliament was created consisting of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies, the latter being elected by an electoral college on the basis of one Deputy for every 50,000 male subjects. The number of Deputies elected from the territory which is now Palestine was six. The unit for the primary election was the Nahia, that is, a village of over 200 houses, or a collection of villages with that population. It is interesting to note that communal representation was recognized in the Nahia Councils and in their "Council of Elders." The Imam (Moslem priest) and representatives of the non-Moslem religious communities were ex officio members of the latter. The President was the Mudir appointed by the Vali or Governor of the Wilayat. The administrative officers of these village Councils were known as Mukhtars and were elected by the same persons as were entitled to elect the Council of Elders. Every village had one Mukhtar, but if a village consisted of more than one quarter or ward or contained more than one community with the qualifying number of houses, it had one Mukhtar for each quarter or community. This office of village headman has survived, and today forms the chief point of contact between the officials and the countryside. The functions of the Council of the Nahia were the preservation of peace, collection of taxes and maintenance of public accounts. The Council of Elders was expected to supervise expenditure, the apportionment of taxation and the settlement of disputes, including communal disputes, and to report cases of persons who died leaving property and absent heirs, or land going out of cultivation. Under the Ottoman Government a Court of First Instance, composed of three Judges, was established in each Qada or Kaza, with a Court of Appeal composed of five or more Members in each Sanjak. In Palestine there were, therefore, 13 Courts of First Instance and three Courts of Appeal. The predilection for boards or committees, and the multiplicity of officials is noticeable. There were in addition single Judges or Justices of the Peace in the principal towns. Thus there were numerous Courts throughout Palestine, with numbers of Judges, whose salaries were by no means commensurate with their responsibilities.(2)
Deputies in the Ottoman parliament representing Palestine
There were four elections for the Ottoman Parliament, held in 1896, 1908, 1912, and 114. The deputies who represented Palestine in the Ottoman Parliament were as follows:
In 1896, Yusif Dia Pasha Al Khalidi represented Jerusalem. In 1908, five deputies represented the areas included in Palestine: Ruhi Al Khalidi, representing Jerusalem; Saeed El Husseini, representing Jerusalem; Hafez Al Saeed, representing Jaffa; Al Sheikh Ahmad Al Khamash, representing Nablus; and Al Sheikh Assad Al Shukeiri, representing Ac