Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem

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Kudüs-i Şerif Mutasarrıflığı
Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem
Territory of the Ottoman Empire


Flag of Southern Syria


Location of Southern Syria
Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem in 1900
Capital Jerusalem
 -  Established 1872
 -  British conquest 1917
 -  1862[2] 12,486 km2 (4,821 sq mi)
 -  1897[1] 298,653 
Today part of  Israel
 State of Palestine

The Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem (Ottoman Turkish: Kudüs-i Şerif Mutasarrıflığı; Arabic: متصرفية القدس الشريف‎), also known as the Sanjak of Jerusalem was an Ottoman district with special administrative status established in 1872.[3][4][5] The district encompassed Jerusalem as well as the other major cities of Gaza, Jaffa, Hebron, Bethlehem and Beersheba.[6] During the late Ottoman period, the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem, together with the Sanjak of Nablus and Sanjak of Acre, formed the region that was commonly referred to as "Southern Syria"[7] or "Palestine".[3][nb 1]

The district was first separated from Damascus and placed directly under Constantinople in 1841,[4] and formally created as an independent province in 1872 by Grand Vizier Mahmud Nedim Pasha.[4] Scholars provide a variety of reasons for the separation, including increased European interest in the region, and strengthening of the southern border of the Empire against the Khedivate of Egypt.[4]

Initially, the Mutasarrifate of Acre and Mutasarrifate of Nablus were combined with the province of Jerusalem, with the combined province being referred to in the register of the court of Jerusalem as the "Jerusalem Eyalet",[8] and referred to by the British consul as creation of "Palestine into a separate eyalet".[9]

However, after less than two months,[9] the sanjaks of Nablus and Acre were separated and added to the Vilayet of Beirut, leaving just the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem.[10] In 1906, the Kaza of Nazareth was added to the Jerusalem Mutasarrifate, as an exclave,[11] primarily in order to allow the issuance of a single tourist permit to Christian travellers.[12]

The political status of the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem was unique to other Ottoman province since it came under the direct authority of the state capital Constantinople.[5] The inhabitants identified themselves primarily on religious terms.[7] The district's villages were normally inhabited by farmers while its towns were populated by merchants, artisans, landowners and money-lenders. The elite consisted of the religious leadership, wealthy landlords and high-ranking civil servants.[7]


The district was first separated from Damascus and placed directly under Constantinople in 1841,[4] and formally created as an independent province in 1872. Before 1872, the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem was officially a sanjak within the Syria Vilayet (created in 1864, following the Tanzimat reforms).

The southern border of the Mutasarifate of Jerusalem was redrawn in 1906, at the instigation of the British, who were interested in safeguarding their imperial interests and in making the border as short and patrollable as possible.[13]

Towards the end of the 19th century, the idea that the region of Palestine or the Mutasarifate of Jerusalem formed a separate political entity became widespread among the district's educated Arab classes. In 1904, former Jerusalem official Najib Azuri formed in Paris, France the Ligue de la Patrie Arabe ("League of Arab Patriots") whose goal was to free Ottoman Syria and Iraq from Turkish domination. In 1908, Azuri proposed the elevation of the mutassarifate to the status of vilayet to the Ottoman Parliament[5] after the 1908 Young Turk Revolution.

The area was conquered by the Allied Forces in 1917 during World War I[6] and a military Occupied Enemy Territory Administration (OETA South) set up to replace the Ottoman administration. OETA South consisted of the Ottoman sanjaks of Jerusalem, Nablus and Acre. The military administration was replaced by a British civilian administration in 1920 and the area of OETA South became the territory of the British Mandate of Palestine in 1923, with some border adjustments with Lebanon and Syria.


Four contemporary maps showing the "Quds Al-Sharif Sancağı" or "Quds Al-Sharif Mutasarrıflığı". The fourthmap shows the 1860 borders between Ottoman Syria and the Khedivate of Egypt, although the border was moved to the current Israel-Egypt border in 1906, and the area north of the Negev Desert is labelled "Filastin" (Palestine).

The division was bounded on the west by the Mediterranean, on the east by the River Jordan and the Dead Sea, on the north by a line from the mouth of the river Auja to the bridge over the Jordan near Jericho, and on the south by a line from midway between Gaza and Arish to Aqaba.[14]

Administrative divisions[edit]

Administrative divisions of the Mutasarrifate (1872-1909):

1. Kaza of Beersheba (Ottoman Turkish: قضا بءرالسبع; Turkish: Birüsseb' kazası; Arabic: قضاء بئر السبع‎), which included two sub-districts and a municipality:

2. Kaza of Gaza (Ottoman Turkish: قضا غزّه; Turkish: Gazze kazası ; Arabic: قضاء غزة‎), which included three sub-districts and a municipality:

3. Kaza of Hebron (Ottoman Turkish: قضا خليل الرحمن; Turkish: Halilü'r Rahman kazası; Arabic: قضاء الخليل‎), which included two sub-districts and a municipality:

4. Kaza of Jaffa (Ottoman Turkish: قضا يافه; Turkish: Yafa kazası ; Arabic: قضاء يَافَا‎), which included two sub-districts and a municipality:

5. Kaza of Jerusalem (Ottoman Turkish: قضا قدس; Turkish: Kudüs-i Şerif kazası; Arabic: قضاء القدس الشريف‎), which included four sub-districts and two municipalities:

Following 1906, the kaza of Nazareth was added:

6. Kaza of Nazareth (Ottoman Turkish: قضا الْنَاصِرَة; Turkish: Nasra kazası; Arabic: قضاء الْنَاصِرَة‎),

Mutasarrıfs of Jerusalem[edit]

The Mutasarrıfs of Jerusalem were appointed by the Porte to govern the district. They were usually experienced civil servants who spoke little or no Arabic, but knew a European language - most commonly French.[16]

Pre-separation from Damascus[edit]

  • Sureyya Pasha 1857–63
  • Izzet Pasha 1864–67
  • Nazif Pasha 1867–69
  • Kamil Pasha 1869–71
  • Ali Bey 1871–72

Post-separation from Damascus[edit]

Post Young Turk Revolution[edit]

  • Subhi Bey 1908–09
  • Nazim Bey 1909–10
  • Azmi Bey 1910–11
  • Cevdet Bey 1911–12
  • Muhdi Bey 1912
  • Tahir Hayreddin Bey 1912–13
  • Ahmed Macid Bey 1913–15

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The 1915 Filastin Risalesi ("Palestine Document"), an Ottoman army (VIII Corps (Ottoman Empire)) country survey which formally identified Palestine as including the sanjaqs of Akka (the Galilee), the Sanjaq of Nablus, and the Sanjaq of Jerusalem (Kudus Sherif), see Shifting Ottoman Conceptions of Palestine-Part 2: Ethnography and Cartography, Salim Tamari


  1. ^ Mutlu, Servet. "Late Ottoman population and its ethnic distribution". pp. 29–31.  Corrected population for Mortality Level=8.
  2. ^ The Popular encyclopedia: or, conversations lexicon. Blackie. 1862. p. 698. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  3. ^ a b Büssow, Johann (2011-08-11). Hamidian Palestine: Politics and Society in the District of Jerusalem 1872-1908. BRILL. p. 5. ISBN 978-90-04-20569-7. Retrieved 2013-05-17. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Abu-Manneh 1999, p. 36.
  5. ^ a b c James P. Jankowski; Israel Gershoni (January 1997). Rethinking Nationalism in the Arab Middle East. Columbia University Press. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-231-10695-5. Retrieved 2013-06-29. 
  6. ^ a b Adel Beshara (2012-04-23). "The Name of Syria in Ancient and Modern Usage". The Origins of Syrian Nationhood: Histories, Pioneers and Identity. CRC Press. pp. 56–59. ISBN 978-1-136-72450-3. Retrieved 2013-06-29. 
  7. ^ a b c Hasan Afif El-Hasan (2010). Israel Or Palestine? Is the Two-state Solution Already Dead?. Algora Publishing. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-87586-793-9. Retrieved 2013-06-29. 
  8. ^ Abu-Manneh 1999, p. 43.
  9. ^ a b Abu-Manneh 1999, p. 39.
  10. ^ Büssow, Johann (2011-08-11). Hamidian Palestine: Politics and Society in the District of Jerusalem 1872-1908. BRILL. pp. 41–44. ISBN 978-90-04-20569-7. Retrieved 2013-05-17. 
  11. ^ Rût Kark (1994). American Consuls in the Holy Land: 1832 - 1914. Wayne State University Press. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-8143-2523-0. Retrieved 2013-05-17. 
  12. ^ Büssow, Johann (2011-08-11). Hamidian Palestine: Politics and Society in the District of Jerusalem 1872-1908. BRILL. p. 70. ISBN 978-90-04-20569-7. Retrieved 2013-05-17. 
  13. ^ Gardus, Yehuda; Shmueli, Avshalom, ed. (1978–79). [The Land of the Negev] (in Hebrew). Ministry of Defense Publishing.  , pp. 369–370
  14. ^ Abu-Manneh 1999, p. 43–44.
  15. ^ a b David Kushner (2005). To be governor of Jerusalem: the city and district during the time of Ali Ekrem Bey, 1906-1908. Isis Press. p. 96. ISBN 978-975-428-310-5. 
  16. ^ Kushner, David (July 1987). "The Ottoman Governors of Palestine, 1864-1914". Middle Eastern Studies 23 (3): 274–290.