View more on
View more topics under
Status, Voice, and Governance

Elections in Jerusalem: 1934

Palestinian Jerusalemites and Liftawis gather to cast their votes for the mayor of Jerusalem, 1934.


Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [LC-DIG-ppmsca-17162]

A look back in history at one of the final chapters of municipal elections in Jerusalem, prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, and the ensuing partition of the city between a Jewish West and a Palestinian East.

Captured by American Colony photographer John D. Whiting on September 26, 1934, this photo shows a group of Jerusalem and Lifta men as they gather to cast their vote in the municipal race between Hussein al-Khalidi and Raghib al-Nashashibi. Although Lifta was a Palestinian village on the western outskirts of Jerusalem, it shared strong economic ties with the city, granting its residents—many of whom owned property in the city—voting rights in Jerusalem elections, before its forcible depopulation by Zionist forces in early 1948 (see Resurrecting Lifta: A Microcosm of Palestine).

These elections, held during the British Mandate period, were significant as they marked a period of relative political autonomy for the Palestinian Arab population in Jerusalem. The race was between two Palestinian candidates from the leading Jerusalemite families. Hussein al-Khalidi would eventually assume office as mayor, a position he held until his exile from the country in 1937 and the appointment of a Jewish Zionist mayor by the British authorities. Thus, this election was significant in that it marked the last time the entire city voted for a Palestinian candidate.