Arab Higher Committee

Arab Higher Committee

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The Arab Higher Committee (Arabic: اللجنة العليا العربية) was the central political organ of the Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 community of Mandate Palestine. It was established on 25 April 1936, on the initiative of Hajj Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem
Grand Mufti of Jerusalem
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem is the Sunni Muslim cleric in charge of Jerusalem's Islamic holy places, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque.-Ottoman era:...

, and comprised the leaders of Palestinian Arab clans under the mufti's chairmanship.

History


The Higher Arab Committee was formed after the start of the 1936-39 Arab revolt. On 15 May, the Committee called for nonpayment of taxes, a general strike
General strike
A general strike is a strike action by a critical mass of the labour force in a city, region, or country. While a general strike can be for political goals, economic goals, or both, it tends to gain its momentum from the ideological or class sympathies of the participants...

 of Arab workers and businesses, and an end to Jewish immigration
Aliyah
Aliyah is the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel . It is a basic tenet of Zionist ideology. The opposite action, emigration from Israel, is referred to as yerida . The return to the Holy Land has been a Jewish aspiration since the Babylonian exile...

. The committee was banned by the Mandate administration in September 1937.

A committee of the same name was reconstituted by the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

 in 1945, but went to abayence after it proved ineffective during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

. It was banned by Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 in 1948, and sidestepped by Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and the Arab League with the formation of the All-Palestine Government
All-Palestine Government
The All-Palestine Government was established by the Arab League on 22 September 1948, during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Shortly thereafter, an Arab-Palestinian Congress named King Abdullah I of Transjordan, "King of Arab Palestine"...

 in 1948.

Formation


Initially, the Committee consisted of:
  • Amin al-Husayni, president - member of the al-Husayni
    Al-Husayni
    Husayni is the name of a prominent Palestinian Arab clan formerly based in Jerusalem. Several members of the clan held important political positions such as Mayor and Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and founded and led many Palestinian Arab Islamist groups such as the Holy War Army, the Palestine Arab...

     clan, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem
    Grand Mufti of Jerusalem
    The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem is the Sunni Muslim cleric in charge of Jerusalem's Islamic holy places, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque.-Ottoman era:...

    , president of the Supreme Muslim Council
    Supreme Muslim Council
    The Supreme Muslim Council was the highest body in charge of Muslim community affairs in Mandate Palestine under British control. It was established to create an advisory body composed of Muslims and Christians with whom the High Commissioner could consult...

  • Raghib al-Nashashibi
    Raghib al-Nashashibi
    Raghib al-Nashashibi was a wealthy landowner and public figure during the Ottoman Empire, the British Mandate and the Jordanian administration. He was mayor of Jerusalem in 1920–1934.-Background:...

     - member of the Nashashibi
    Nashashibi
    Nashashibi is the name of a prominent Palestinian family based in Jerusalem. Many of its members held senior positions in the government of Jerusalem. Raghib al-Nashashibi was Mayor of Jerusalem .- History :...

     clan, which was considered to be political rivals of the al-Husayni
    Al-Husayni
    Husayni is the name of a prominent Palestinian Arab clan formerly based in Jerusalem. Several members of the clan held important political positions such as Mayor and Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and founded and led many Palestinian Arab Islamist groups such as the Holy War Army, the Palestine Arab...

     clan, and to hold moderate views when compared to the more militant views of the al-Husayni, member of the National Defence Party
    National Defence Party
    The National Defence Party was set up by Raghib al-Nashashibi in the British Mandate of Palestine in 1934....

  • Jamal al-Husayni
    Jamal al-Husayni
    Jamal al-Husayni , , was born in Jerusalem and was a member of the Husayni family.Husayni served as Secretary of the Palestinian Arab Action Committee and the Muslim Supreme Council. He was founder and chairman of the Palestine Arab Party and its delegate to the Arab Higher Committee, led by his...

     - brother of Amin al-Husayni and chairman of the Palestine Arab Party
    Palestine Arab Party
    The Palestinian Arab Party was a political party in Palestine established by the influential Husayni family in 1935. Jamal al-Husayni was the founder and chairman. Emil Ghoury was elected as General Secretary till the end of the British Mandate in 1947...

    , member of the Supreme Muslim Council
  • Yaqub al-Ghusayn
    Yaqub al-Ghusayn
    Yaqub al-Ghussein was an aristocratic Palestinian landowner from Ramla and founder of the Youth Congress Party. He graduated in law from the University of Cambridge. Ghussein was elected president of the first National Congress of Arab Youth, held in Jaffa in January 1932. He was a member and...

     - member and representative of the Youth Congress Party
    Youth Congress Party
    The Youth Congress Party was established by Yaqub al-Ghusayn in the British Mandate of Palestine in 1932. The party was generally pro-Husayni.-References:...

    , member of the Supreme Muslim Council
  • Abd al-Latif Salah - founder of the National Bloc
  • Husayin al-Khalidi
    Husayin al-Khalidi
    Husayn Fakhri al-Khalidi was born in Jerusalem. He worked as medical doctor for the Department of Public Health in Aleppo. Khalidi was elected mayor of Jerusalem from 1934-1937...

     - founder and representative of the Reform Party
    Reform Party (Palestine)
    The Reform Party was established by Husayin al-Khalidi in Palestine on 23 June 1935....

  • Awni Abd al-Hadi
    Awni Abd al-Hadi
    Awni Abd al-Hadi, , was a Palestinian political figure. He was educated in Beirut, Istanbul, and at the Sorbonne University in Paris. His wife was Tarab Abd al-Hadi, a Palestinian activist and feminist....

     - the leader of the Istiqlal (Independence
    Independence Party (Palestine)
    The Independence Party was an Arab nationalist party established on 13 August, 1932, in Palestine during the British mandate. Its origins lay in the Istiqlal movement associated with the short-lived Sharifian government in Damascus....

    ) Party, who was appointed General Secretary


On 15 May 1936, the Committee called for nonpayment of taxes, for a general strike
General strike
A general strike is a strike action by a critical mass of the labour force in a city, region, or country. While a general strike can be for political goals, economic goals, or both, it tends to gain its momentum from the ideological or class sympathies of the participants...

 of Arab workers and businesses, and demanded an end to Jewish immigration. The strike was called off in October 1936 and the violence abated for about a year while the Peel Commission
Peel Commission
The Peel Commission of 1936-1937, formally known as the Palestine Royal Commission, was a British Royal Commission of Inquiry set out to propose changes to the British Mandate of Palestine following the outbreak of the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine...

 deliberated and eventually recommended partition of Palestine. With the rejection of this proposal, the revolt resumed during the autumn of 1937.

On 26 September 1937, the Acting British District Commissioner of Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

, Lewis Yelland Andrews
Lewis Yelland Andrews
Lewis Yelland Andrews . He was a son of A.E. Andrews from Sydney. Andrews had fought in World War I for the Australian Imperial Forces. He later served as British district commissioner for Galilee. His assassination on 26 September 1937, caused Britain to respond by outlawing the Arab Higher...

, was assassinated in Nazareth
Nazareth
Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Known as "the Arab capital of Israel," the population is made up predominantly of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel...

. The next day Britain outlawed the Arab Higher Committee, and began to arrest its members. Amin al-Husayni managed to escape arrest, but was removed from the presidency of the Supreme Muslim Council.

War period


Amin al-Husayni managed to escape arrest and went into exile. For all practical purposes, the Committee ceased to exist. Al-Husayni spent the war years in occupied Europe, actively collaborating with the Nazi leadership. Membership of the outlaw Committee had dwindled to just Jamal al-Husayni (Amin al-Husayni's brother, as acting chairperson), Husayn al-Khalidi (secretary), Ahmad Hilmi Pasha and Emile al-Ghury. Jamal al-Husayni
Jamal al-Husayni
Jamal al-Husayni , , was born in Jerusalem and was a member of the Husayni family.Husayni served as Secretary of the Palestinian Arab Action Committee and the Muslim Supreme Council. He was founder and chairman of the Palestine Arab Party and its delegate to the Arab Higher Committee, led by his...

 was interned in Southern Rhodesia
Southern Rhodesia
Southern Rhodesia was the name of the British colony situated north of the Limpopo River and the Union of South Africa. From its independence in 1965 until its extinction in 1980, it was known as Rhodesia...

 during the war.

Post-war period


After the end of the war, Amin al-Husayni managed to find his way to Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and stayed there until 1959, when he moved to Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

. On 22 March 1945, the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

 was formed. In November 1945, it reconstituted the Arab Higher Committee comprising twelve members as the supreme executive body of Palestinian Arabs in the territory of the British Mandate of Palestine. The committee was dominated by the Palestine Arab Party
Palestine Arab Party
The Palestinian Arab Party was a political party in Palestine established by the influential Husayni family in 1935. Jamal al-Husayni was the founder and chairman. Emil Ghoury was elected as General Secretary till the end of the British Mandate in 1947...

 and was immediately recognised by Arab League countries. The Mandate government recognised the new Committee two months later. In February 1946, Jamal al-Husayni returned to Palestine and immediately set about reorganising and enlarging the Committee, becoming its acting president. The Istiqlal Party
Istiqlal Party
The Istiqlal or Independence Party is a political party in Morocco...

 and other nationalist groups objected to these moves, and formed a rival Arab Higher Front.

As of April 1946, the members of the reconstituted Committee were:
  • Jamal al-Husayni
    Jamal al-Husayni
    Jamal al-Husayni , , was born in Jerusalem and was a member of the Husayni family.Husayni served as Secretary of the Palestinian Arab Action Committee and the Muslim Supreme Council. He was founder and chairman of the Palestine Arab Party and its delegate to the Arab Higher Committee, led by his...

  • Tewfiq al-Husayni
  • Yusif Sahyun
  • Kamil al-Dajani
  • Emile al-Ghury
  • Rafiq al-Tamimi
    Rafiq al-Tamimi
    Muhammad Rafiq al-Tamimi was a Palestinian Arab educator and political figure in the 20th century. He was appointed to the Arab Higher Committee in 1945 and was the chairman of al-Najjada.-Early life:...

     and
  • Anwar al-Khatib (all members of or affiliated with the Palestine Arab Party
    Palestine Arab Party
    The Palestinian Arab Party was a political party in Palestine established by the influential Husayni family in 1935. Jamal al-Husayni was the founder and chairman. Emil Ghoury was elected as General Secretary till the end of the British Mandate in 1947...

    )
  • Izzat Tannus (an independent Christian
    Christian
    A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

     medical doctor)
  • Antone Attallah (a member of the Greek Orthodox
    Eastern Orthodox Church
    The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

     community)
  • Ahmad al-Shukayri
    Ahmad Shukeiri
    Ahmad al-Shukeiri also transcribed al-Shuqayri, Shuqeiri, Shukeiry, etc.), was the first Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, serving in 1964–67....

     (a lawyer
    Lawyer
    A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

     from Acre
    Acre
    The acre is a unit of area in a number of different systems, including the imperial and U.S. customary systems. The most commonly used acres today are the international acre and, in the United States, the survey acre. The most common use of the acre is to measure tracts of land.The acre is related...

     and an Arab nationalist
    Arab nationalism
    Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world...

    )
  • Sami Taha
    Sami Taha
    -Early life:Taha was born in Arrabah, a town near Jenin. He had completed primary school but, through independent study, he became fluent in English and acquired a good knowledge of labour law. His family later moved to Haifa, where he lived during his teenage years, in the early 1930s...

     - head of Palestine Arab Workers Society
    Palestine Arab Workers Society
    The Palestine Arab Workers Society was the main Arab labor organization in the British Mandate of Palestine. Its headquarters were in Haifa where it was established in 1925. From 1937 onwards, its general secretary was Sami Taha...

  • Yusif Haykal (the mayor of Jaffa
    Jaffa
    Jaffa is an ancient port city believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Jaffa was incorporated with Tel Aviv creating the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel. Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical story of the prophet Jonah.-Etymology:...

    , who was politically independent)


In May 1946, the Arab League ordered the dissolution of the AHC and AHR and formed a five-member Arab Higher Executive, under Amin al-Husayni's chairmanship, and based in Cairo. The new AHE consisted of:
  • Amin al-Husayni, as chairman
  • Jamal al-Husayni, as vice-chairman
  • Husayn Fakhri al-Khalidi
  • Emile al-Ghury
  • Abd al-Baqi


In January 1947, it was renamed as "Arab Higher Committee", with Amin al-Husayni as its chairman and Jamal al-Husayni as vice-chairman, and expanded to include the four remaining core members plus Hasan Abu Sa'ud, Izhak Darwish al-Husayni, Izzat Darwaza
Izzat Darwaza
Muhammad 'Izzat Darwaza was a Palestinian politician, historian, and educator from Nablus. Early in his career, he worked as an Ottoman bureaucrat in Palestine and Lebanon. Darwaza had long been a sympathizer of Arab nationalism and became an activist of that cause following the Arab revolt...

, Rafiq al-Tamimi
Rafiq al-Tamimi
Muhammad Rafiq al-Tamimi was a Palestinian Arab educator and political figure in the 20th century. He was appointed to the Arab Higher Committee in 1945 and was the chairman of al-Najjada.-Early life:...

 and Mu'in al-Madi
Mu'in al-Madi
Mu'in al-Madi was a Palestinian Arab politician and member of the Arab Higher Committee. He was one of the founders of the al-Istiqlal party, which espoused Arab nationalism...

. This restructuring of the AHC to include additional supporters of Amin al-Husayni was seen as a bid to increase his political power.

Criticism


Anwar Nusseibeh
Anwar Nusseibeh
Anwar Nusseibeh Anwar Nusseibeh was a Palestinian nationalist who believed in maintaining Arab consensus, on the grounds that Arab unity was more important than the individual differences...

, a Palestinian nationalist who believed that the best way to advance Palestinian interest was to operate within whichever regime was in power, criticized the Arab Higher Committee's performance during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

 as being unaware and ineffective at best and ambivalent at worst to the needs of the Palestinian Arab population. In a personal note, Nusseibeh wrote, "Obviously they thought of the Palestine adventure in terms of an easy walkover for the Arabs, and the only point that seemed to worry them was credit for the expected victory. ... [They] were determined that the Palestine Arabs should at all costs be excluded."

The Committee became politically irrelevant after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and banned from the Jordanian occupied West Bank. Instead, the Arab League - led by Egypt - decided to set up the All-Palestine Government
All-Palestine Government
The All-Palestine Government was established by the Arab League on 22 September 1948, during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Shortly thereafter, an Arab-Palestinian Congress named King Abdullah I of Transjordan, "King of Arab Palestine"...

 in Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

on 8 September 1948 under the nominal leadership of al-Husayni.