||The Shaw Commission was appointed by the British colonial secretary, Lord Passfield, after the serious disturbances of August 1929, which broke out in connection with the question of Jewish rights at the Western (Wailing) Wall. In the disturbances 133 Jews were killed and 339 wounded, mainly in Jerusalem and Hebron; Arab casualties, chiefly from police action, were 116 killed and 232 wounded. The commission's terms of reference were "to enquire into the immediate causes which led to the recent outbreak in Palestine and to make recommendations as to the steps necessary to avoid a recurrence." It consisted of Sir Walter Shaw, former chief justice of the Straits Settlements, as chairman, and three members of parliament Sir H. Betterton (Conservative), R. H. Morris (Liberal), and H. Snell (Labour).
Although Prime Minister Ramsay Mac-Donald stated that matters of major policy were definitely outside its terms of reference, the commission went into Arab political and economic grievances in considerable depth and detail. It found that the outbreak in Jerusalem was from the beginning "an attack by Arabs on Jews" and apportioned "a share in the responsibility" to Al-Hajj Amin Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem. In dealing with the causes of the trouble, the commission stated: "There can be no doubt that racial animosity on the part of the Arabs, consequent upon the disappointment of their political and national aspirations and fear for their economic future, was the fundamental cause of the outbreak of August last," and that the Churchill White Paper of 1922 charged the Palestine government with the primary duty of "holding the balance between the two parties in the country." It considered the policy of the government to be of a dual nature and that it had succeeded in steering a middle course between the conflicting policies proposed by the two parties.
The commission accepted most of the Arab claims and recommended that a new statement of policy should be issued, containing "a definition in clear and positive terms" of the meaning of the passages in the Mandate providing for "the safeguarding of the rights of the non-Jewish communities." It recommended: that immigration policy be reviewed to prevent a repetition of what the commission described as the excessive immigration of 1925 and 1926; that a special inquiry should be undertaken into the prospects of introducing improved methods of cultivation and that a new land policy be introduced, having regard for the natural increase in the present rural population; and that a special commission be appointed to determine rights and claims in connection with the Western Wall.
In a long note of reservations, Harry Snell attributed a greater share in the responsibility for the disturbances to the mufti, blamed the government for not having issued an official denial that the Jews had designs on the Muslim holy places, ascribed the outbreaks mainly to fears and antipathies fostered by the Arab leaders for political needs, and declared that what was needed was not so much a change of policy, as a change of mind on the part of the Arab population.
The British government appointed Sir John Hope-Simpson to report on questions of immigration, land settlement, and development and issued a preliminary statement accepting the substance of the Shaw Commission Report. In reply to trenchant criticism of the report by the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations, the government further defended the commission's conclusions. The Hope-Simpson report, which was issued on Oct. 21, 1930, simultaneously with the Passfield White Paper, stated that: if all the cultivable land in Palestine were divided up among the Arab agricultural population, there would not be enough to provide every family with a decent livelihood; until further development took place and the Arabs adopted better methods of cultivation, "there is no room for a single additional settler, if the standard of life of the fellaheen is to remain at its present level"; and that with thorough development of the country, there would be room "for no less than 20,000 families of settlers from outside."