Foundation of Israel


The Foundation of Israel, 1948


King David Hotel bombed


Ancient World 6

Under Islam 7

Abbasids 7

Fatimids 7

Crusaders and Mamluks 7

The Ottoman Turks 1416-1920 8

Nineteenth Century 8

Early Zionism to 1881 9

Zionism 1881-1914 9

Herzl 11

Chaim Weizmann before 1914 13

The Second Aliyah 1904-14 15

The Ottoman Empire in Decline 15

World War I 15

The British adopt Zionism 17

Progress of the Arab Revolt 18

Preliminaries to the Sykes Picot Agreement 19

Background 19

Negotiating the agreement 19

The Sykes-Picot Agreement, May 1916 22

Arabian Peninsula 23

Blue Zone 23

Red Zone 23

Brown Zone: Palestine 23

Russian Zone 24

Why 24

Reactions to Sykes Picot 25

Long Term impact of Sykes Picot 28

Allenby enters Jerusalem 29

The Balfour Declaration, November 1917 (see Appendix 6 for Text) 29

Reactions to the Balfour Declaration by the Jews 30

Soviet Reaction 30

Arab reaction to Balfour 31

Versailles Conference 31

Preliminaries 31

Proceedings 33

After Versailles 35

The San Remo Conference 1920 35

The Kurds 36

The Palestine Mandate 1922 37

Treaty of Lausanne July 1923 38

Transjordan 38

The administration of the Mandate 39

1917-1930 39

1930-36 44

The Arab Revolt 1936-9 45

Peel Commission 1936 47

Violence resumes 48

Woodhead Commission 1938 (See Appendix 4) 49

St James Conference Feb 1939 50

White Paper of 1939 50

World War II 53

Jewish Immigration Quota maintained 53

Support for Britain by Arabs and Jews 53

Anti-British activity by Jews and Arabs 54

Allies distance themselves from Jews 55

Soviet support for Zionism 55

Alamein Crisis leads to formation of Palmach 55

The Holocaust becomes known 55

British Policy favours Arabs 56

British Jewish Brigade 56

Post World War II 57

The British 57

The Arabs and Jews 57

American Policy Under Roosevelt 57

American Policy under Truman 57

Other international perspectives 58

Policy of the British Labour Government 58

British Restrict Jewish Immigration to Palestine 59

Jewish immigration in defiance of British 59

Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry January 1946 60

Immigration by Jews from Arab areas 60

Armed Jewish opposition the British rule 61

British create Transjordan, May 25th 1946 61

Night of the Bridges, June 17th 1946 61

Black Sabbath June 29th 1946 62

American Policy 2 64

London Conference, September 1946 64

Religion and Zionism 65

American Policy 3 65

The Bombing of the King David Hotel 67

The Exodus 70

The British decide to abandon Palestine 70


Reactions to UNSCOP 71

United States 71

Russia 72

Britain 72

The UN General Assembly 72

Draft of Resolution 181 Proposed 72

British and the Draft Resolution 72

Reaction to Draft Resolution 181 by Jews 72

Reaction to Draft Resolution 181 by Arabs 73

Reaction to Draft Resolution 181 by State Department 73

Reaction to Draft Resolution by USSR 74

Lobbying prior to vote on Resolution 181 74

What actually happened on the ground 75

Resolution 181 passed November 1947 75

Reactions to Resolution 181 76

British 76

UN Security Council 76

Jews 76

Arabs 76

US Diplomats 77

Intercommunal violence begins 77

Expectations 78

British withdrawal 79

Plan Dalet 80

Deir Yassin Massacre 81

Movement of Refugees 81

US Policy 4 82

The Creation of Israel 83

The April 12th Meeting 83

The British depart 84

State of Israel decided, 12th May 85

Before the Meeting in the Art Museum 14th May 85

The Meeting in the Art Museum 14th May 86

After the Meeting 87

Recognition 87

USA 87


United Nations 89

India 89

Other states 89

Reluctant recognisers 89

The 1948 Arab-Israeli War 90

The Balance of Forces 91

Military background of Arabs 91

Military Background of Jews 91

Resources for the Jews 91

Resources for the Arabs 92

International points of view 92

Military movements 92

Initial Arab invasions 92

Jordan and the West Bank 93

Arab successes 93

Israeli Counter attacks 94

Refugee issue during the war 94

United Nations Mediation 95

Casualties 95

The Armistice Settlement 95

Israel after the war 96

Arab policy towards Israel 96

Refugee issue after the war 97

Jewish Refugees and the Law of Return 98

Consolidation of Israel 99

Arab-Israeli relations soured 99

Appendix 1 Variations on Text of Declaration of Independence 104

Appendix 2: Was there a vote on Independence? 105

Appendix 3: the border Issue and the declaration of Independence 107

Appendix 4: The Woodhead Commission, 1938 110

Appendix 5: Immigration in the White Paper of 1939 111

Appendix 6: Text of the Balfour Declaration: 112

Appendix 7: Text of the Sykes Picot Agreement 112

Appendix 8: Americans negotiating the Armistice in 1949 114

Ancient World

Both Jews and Arab Muslims date their claims to the land back a couple of thousand years. (66) Scholars believe the name “Palestine” originally comes from the word “Philistia,” which refers to the Philistines who occupied part of the region in the 12th century B.C. (61) Throughout history, Palestine has been ruled by numerous groups, including the Assyrians, Babylonians, Romans (60,61) Persians, Greeks, , Arabs, Fatimids, Seljuk Turks, Crusaders, Egyptians, Mamelukes, Islamists (61) and Byzantines. (60) Jews often trace their nationhood back to the biblical kingdoms of David and Solomon, circa 950 BC. (66) In the 6th Century the Diaspora began in 586 BCE with the Babylonian occupation of Israel. (27) The Babylonians destroyed the First Temple, which was central to Jewish culture at the time. (27) In the 4th Century BCE, in the 330s, Alexander the Great conquered the coastline of the region of Palestine. (65) It changed hands numerous times in the 3rd Century, during the wars of the Diadochi, ultimately joining the Seleucid Empire between 219 and 200 BCE. (65) In the 2nd Century, in 116 BCE, a Seleucid civil war resulted in the independence of certain regions including the minor Hasmonean principality in the Judean Mountains. (65) From 110 BCE, the Hasmoneans extended their authority over much of the area, creating a Judean–Samaritan–Idumaean–Ituraean–Galilean alliance. (65) Zionists believe Judaism is a nationality as well as a religion, and that Jews deserve their own state in their ancestral homeland, Israel, in the same way the French people deserve France or the Chinese people should have China. (66) The Judean control over the wider region resulted in it also becoming known as Hasmonean Judaea, a term that had previously only referred to the smaller region of the Judean Mountains. (65) In the 1st Century BC, between 73–63 BCE, the Roman Republic extended its influence into the region in the Third Mithridatic War, making Judea a vassal kingdom in 63 BCE, and splitting the Hasmonean Kingdom into five districts. (65) After several decades as vassal of the Roman Empire, the Herodian kingdom and tetrarchy was gradually absorbed into Roman Empire as the Roman Judea. (65) In the First Century AD, between 66 and 135 CE, massive (65) Judean revolts (27,64) such as the Great Revolt (27) troubled the province, resulting in sack of Jerusalem and extensive depopulation of the country. (65) After the 2nd century Bar Kokhba revolt, (27) the Roman Empire expelled the Jews from Judea. (27,64) Jews were treated as foreigners and persecuted wherever they were during their long Exile. (64) The Bar Kokhba revolt caused a spike in anti-Semitism and Jewish persecution. (27) Jews were prohibited from living in the vicinity of Jerusalem, and in 132 Jerusalem was renamed “Aelia Capitolina”. (65) As a result, many Jewish landowners converted to the Ebionim to maintain their properties. (65) The Israelite presence was therefore only a relatively short period in the long history of Palestine. (63) Hadrian joined the province of Judaea with Syria to form a new province (65) and renamed it Syria Palaestina. (27,64) During 259–272, the region briefly fell under the rule of Odaenathus as King of the Palmyrene Empire. (65) Following the victory of Christian emperor Constantine in the Civil Wars of the Tetrarchy (306–324), the Christianization of the Roman Empire began, and in 326, Constantine’s mother Saint Helena visited Jerusalem and began the construction of churches and shrines. (65) Byzantine Palestine became a center of Christianity, attracting numerous monks and religious scholars. (65) Persecution of Ebionites led to their dispersion to Arabia and the Parthian Empire. (65) The Christians gradually gained dominance demographically, especially after the Samaritan Revolts during late Byzantine period, which had caused the near extinction of Samaritans. (65) In early 7th century the region briefly fell under the Sasanian Empire and Jewish rebels, until the return of Byzantines in 625-9. (65)

Under Islam

In the 7th Century, Palestine was conquered by the Islamic Empire following the 636 CE Battle of Yarmouk during the Muslim conquest of Syria, and the Muslims gave relief from burdensome Roman taxes and religious persecution of Christian heretics. (65) The country was incorporated into Bilad al-Sham Province as military districts of Urdunn and Filastin. (65) In all the years of Arab and Muslim control from the 7th century, (64) Palestine was never a separate state (62,64) and Jerusalem was never a capital. (64) In 661 CE, with the assassination of Ali, Muawiyah I became the uncontested Caliph of the Islamic World after being crowned in Jerusalem. (65) In 691, the Dome of the Rock became the world’s first great work of Islamic architecture. (65)


The Umayyads were replaced by the Abbasids in 750. (65) From 878 Palestine was ruled from Egypt by semi-autonomous rulers for almost a century, beginning with Ahmad ibn Tulun and ending with the Ikhshidid rulers who were both buried in Jerusalem. (65)


The Fatimids conquered the region in 969. (65) In 1073, Palestine was captured by the Great Seljuq Empire, only to be recaptured by the Fatimids in 1098, who then lost the region to the Crusaders in 1099. (65) Crusader control of Jerusalem and most of Palestine as the Kingdom of Jerusalem lasted almost a century until defeat by Saladin’s forces in 1187, after which most of Palestine became controlled by the Ayyubids. (65)

Crusaders and Mamluks

A rump Crusader state in the northern coastal cities survived for another century, but despite seven further Crusades, the Crusaders were no longer a significant power in the region. (65) The Mamluk Sultanate was indirectly created in Egypt as a result of the Seventh Crusade. (65) The Mongol Empire reached Palestine for the first time in 1260, beginning with the raids into the Levant under Nestorian Christian general Kitbuqa and reaching an apex at the pivotal Battle of Ain Jalut. (65)

The Ottoman Turks 1416-1920

In 1486, hostilities broke out between the Mamluks and the Ottoman Turks and the Ottomans captured Mamluk Palestine and Syria in 1516 (65) OR about 1517 (61) the Ottoman Turks. (60,61) The Ottoman rule of the country lasted for four centuries (61,64) until 1917. (61) Palestine was administratively included in the provinces of Ottoman Syria. (65) In 1832, the region was conquered by Muhammad Ali’s Egypt, but, in 1840, Britain intervened and returned control of the Levant to the Ottomans in return for further capitulations. The turbulent period of Egyptian rule experienced two major revolts (the 1834 Arab Peasants revolt and 1838 Druze revolt) and a significant demographic change in coastal areas, repopulated by Egyptian Arab peasants and former soldiers of Muhammad Ali. (65) In common usage from 1840 onward, “Palestine” was used either to describe the consular jurisdictions of the Western powers or for a region that extended in the north–south direction typically from Rafah (south-east of Gaza) to the Litani River (now in Lebanon). (67) The western boundary was the sea, and the eastern boundary was the poorly defined place where the Syrian desert began. (67) In various European sources, the eastern boundary was placed anywhere from the Jordan River to slightly east of Amman. (67) The Consuls were originally magistrates who tried cases involving their own citizens in foreign territories. (67) While the jurisdictions in the secular states of Europe had become territorial, the Ottomans perpetuated the legal system they inherited from the Byzantine Empire. (67) The law in many matters was personal, not territorial, and the individual citizen carried his nation’s law with him wherever he went. (67) Capitulatory law applied to foreigners in Palestine. (67) Only Consular Courts of the State of the foreigners concerned were competent to try them. (67) That was true, not only in cases involving personal status, but also in criminal and commercial matters. (67) According to American Ambassador Morgenthau, Turkey had never been an independent sovereignty. (67) The Western Powers had their own courts, marshals, colonies, schools, postal systems, religious institutions, and prisons. (67) The Consuls also extended protections to large communities of Jewish protégés who had settled in Palestine. (67) The Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities of Palestine were allowed to exercise jurisdiction over their own members according to charters granted to them. (67)

Nineteenth Century

Palestine was a common name used until 1948 to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. (60) It is a small region of land—roughly 2,400 square miles—that has played a prominent role in the ancient and modern history of the Middle East. (61) Violent attempts to control the land have defined much of the history of Palestine, making it the site of constant political conflict. (61) For centuries the Jews and Christians had enjoyed a large degree of communal autonomy in matters of worship, jurisdiction over personal status, taxes, and in managing their schools and charitable institutions. (67)In the 19th century those rights were formally recognized as part of the Tanzimat reforms and when the communities were placed under the protection of European public law. (67) In the 1860s, the Ottoman military was able to restore order east of Jordan by halting tribal conflicts and Bedouin raids. (67) This invited migration to the east, notably the Salt area, from various populations in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine to take advantage of new lands. (67) This influx amounted to some 12,000 over the period from 1880 to just before the First World War, while the Bedouin population east of Jordan increased to 56,000. (67) The southern part, from Jaffa downwards, was part of the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem, a special district under the direct authority of Istanbul. (67) Its southern boundaries were unclear but petered out in the eastern Sinai Peninsula and northern Negev Desert. (67) Most of the central and southern Negev was assigned to the vilayet of Hejaz, which also included the Sinai Peninsula and the western part of Arabia. (67) In the reorganisation of 1873, which established the administrative boundaries that remained in place until 1914, Palestine was split between three major administrative units. (67) The northern part, above a line connecting Jaffa to north Jericho and the Jordan, was assigned to the vilayet of Beirut, subdivided into the sanjaks (districts) of Acre, Beirut and Nablus. (67) The Ottomans regarded “Filistin” as an abstract term referring to the “Holy Land”, and not one consistently applied to a clearly defined area. (67) Among the educated Arab public, Filastin was a common concept, referring either to the whole of Palestine or to the Jerusalem sanjak alone or just to the area around Ramle. (67) The publication of the daily paper Falastin (Palestine) from 1911 was one example of the increasing currency of this concept. (67)

Early Zionism to 1881

Long before the birth of Theodor Herzl, American presidents were endorsing the idea of a Jewish homeland in Judea (Palestine). (22) John Adams said: “I really wish the Jews again in Judea an independent nation”. (22,27) In the United States, Jewish settlements were established in the upper Mississippi region by W.D. Robinson in 1819. (27) In the last years of his life, c.1844, the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, Joseph Smith, declared, “the time for Jews to return to the land of Israel is now.” (27) Mordecai Noah attempted to establish a Jewish refuge opposite Buffalo, New York on Grand Isle, 1825. (27) These early Jewish nation building efforts of Cresson, Benisch, Steinschneider and Noah failed. (27) Moral but not practical efforts were made in Prague to organize a Jewish emigration, by Abraham Benisch and Moritz Steinschneider in 1835. (27) Lord Shaftesbury’s “Memorandum to Protestant Monarchs of Europe for the restoration of the Jews to Palestine”, was published in the Colonial Times, in 1841 (27,40) The return of the Jews to the Holy Land was widely supported by such eminent figures as Queen Victoria, Napoleon Bonaparte, King Edward VII, General Smuts of South Africa, President Masaryk of Czechoslovakia, philosopher and historian Benedetto Croce from Italy, Henry Dunant (founder of the Red Cross and author of the Geneva Conventions), and scientist and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen from Norway. (27) The British Foreign Office actively encouraged Jewish emigration to Palestine, exemplified by Charles Henry Churchill’s 1841–1842 exhortations to Moses Montefiore, the leader of the British Jewish community. (40) Such efforts were premature, and did not succeed; only 24,000 Jews were living in Palestine on the eve of the emergence of Zionism within the world’s Jewish communities in the last two decades of the 19th century. (40) In 1842, Joseph Smith sent Orson Hyde, an Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to Jerusalem to dedicate the land for the return of the Jews. (27) Other Jewish settlements were developed near Jerusalem in 1850, by the American Consul Warder Cresson, a convert to Judaism. (27) Cresson was tried and condemned for lunacy in a suit filed by his wife and son. (27) They asserted that only a lunatic would convert to Judaism from Christianity. (27) After a second trial, based on the centrality of American ‘freedom of faith’ issues and antisemitism, Cresson won the bitterly contested suit. (27) He emigrated to Ottoman Palestine and established an agricultural colony in the Valley of Rephaim of Jerusalem. (27) He hoped to “prevent any attempts being made to take advantage of the necessities of our poor brethren … (27) (that would) … (27) FORCE them into a pretended conversion.” (27) Sir Moses Montefiore, famous for his intervention in favour of Jews around the world, including the attempt to rescue Edgardo Mortara, established a colony for Jews in Palestine. (27) In 1854, his friend Judah Touro bequeathed money to fund Jewish residential settlement in Palestine. (27) Montefiore was appointed executor of his will, and used the funds for a variety of projects, including building in 1860 the first Jewish residential settlement and almshouse outside of the old walled city of Jerusalem—today known as Mishkenot Sha’ananim. (27) Laurence Oliphant failed in a like attempt to bring to Palestine the Jewish proletariat of Poland, Lithuania, Romania, and the Turkish Empire (1879 and 1882). (27) In the late 19th century there were regional migrations of Druze, Circassians and Bedouin tribes and also a spike in Jewish immigration and the revival of the Hebrew language. (65) Increasing Jewish immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries added considerably to the Jewish communities in Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberias and Jaffa. (65)

Zionism 1881-1914

Zionism was an authentic response to the persecution of Jews over millennia around the world. (64) Judaism is a religion of revelation, like Christianity, and has no inherent tie to a particular land. (63) Jews are not a nation but rather a community of believers. (63) The ancestors of today’s Palestinians (Canaanites, Jebusites, and others mentioned in the Bible were there before the Israelites, as shown by both biblical and archaeological evidence. (63) Palestinians have lived continuously in the land since then. (63) OR The Arabs of Palestine were not a national group and never had been. (64) They were largely undifferentiated from the inhabitants of much of Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. (64) They had no authentic tie to the Land of Israel. (64) The legitimacy of the Zionist enterprise of returning Jews to Eretz Yisrael (Palestine) is based on Jewish descent from the ancient Israelites. (64) The Jewish people has inherited their right to the land, religiously, legally, and historically. (64) Jews have always looked and prayed toward Zion (Jerusalem), never relinquished their relationship to the land, and have always maintained a presence since ancient times, despite expulsions. (64) The 1881–1884 anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire encouraged the growth of the latter identity, resulting in the formation of the Hovevei Zion pioneer organizations, the publication of Leon Pinsker’s Autoemancipation, and (40) the first major wave of Jewish immigration to Palestine (40,67) began in 1881–82 and lasted until 1903. (67) It was retrospectively named the “First Aliyah”, (27,40) when Zionists purchased and settled on land in Palestine. (22) Jews who migrated to Palestine in this wave came mostly from Eastern Europe and from Yemen. (67) The official beginning of the construction of the New Yishuv (Jewish residency) in Palestine is usually dated to the arrival of the Bilu group (27) in 1882, (27,40) who commenced the First Aliyah. (27) An estimated 25,000 –35,000 First Aliyah laid the cornerstone for Jewish settlement in Israel and created several settlements such as Rishon LeZion, Rosh Pina, Zikhron Ya’akov and Gedera. (67) Before that date Jews living in Palestine and the Muslim world were well treated by Muslim neighbours and rulers. (63) Lord Rothschild had funded Jewish agricultural colonies. (40) Jews did not come as colonizers, but rather as pioneers and redeemers of the land, and did not intend to disrupt the lives of the current inhabitants of the Land of Israel. (64) All land for Jewish settlement was legally bought and paid for, often at inflated prices. (64) OR Zionism was a European colonialist enterprise like many in the late 19th century and was a European ideology superimposed on the Middle East. (63) Moreover, it is an ideology of expansion directed towards robbing Arabs of their ancestral land. (63) Arabs were systematically expelled by Zionist settlers from the beginning. (63) Ottoman government in Constantinople began to apply restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine in late 1882, in response to the start of the First Aliyah earlier that year. (40) In the following years, Jewish immigration to Palestine started in earnest. (27) Most immigrants came from the Russian Empire, escaping the frequent pogroms and state-led persecution in what are now Ukraine and Poland. (27) They founded a number of agricultural settlements with financial support from Jewish philanthropists in Western Europe. (27) The Great Synagogue of Rishon LeZion was founded in 1885. (27) Many ‘Palestinians’ came for economic opportunity after the Zionist movement began to make the land fruitful and the economy thrive. (64) At the end of the 19th century, Jews were a small minority in Palestine. (27) In the 19th century, advocates of the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land were called Restorationists. (27) The French government, through Minister M. Cambon, formally committed itself to “… the renaissance of the Jewish nationality in that Land from which the people of Israel were exiled so many centuries ago.” (27) In China, top figures of the Nationalist government, including Sun Yat-sen, expressed their sympathy with the aspirations of the Jewish people for a National Home. (27) Social and political developments in Europe convinced Jews they needed their own country, and their ancestral homeland seemed like the right place to establish it. (7) Zionism arose in the late 19th century in reaction to anti-Semitic and exclusionary nationalist movements in Europe. (40) Romantic nationalism in Central and Eastern Europe had helped to set off the Haskalah, or “Jewish Enlightenment”, creating a split in the Jewish community between those who saw Judaism as their religion and those who saw it as their ethnicity or nation. (40) In 1891, a group of Jerusalem notables sent a petition to the central Ottoman government in Istanbul calling for the cessation of Jewish immigration, and land sales to Jews. (67) In 1894, after a French spy at the German Embassy in Paris discovered a ripped-up letter in a waste basket with handwriting said to resemble that of Dreyfus, he was court-martialled, found guilty of treason and sentenced to life behind bars on Devil’s Island off of French Guiana. (42) In a public ceremony in Paris following his conviction, Dreyfus had the insignia torn from his uniform and his sword broken and was paraded before a crowd that shouted, “Death to Judas, death to the Jew.” (42) In 1896, the new head of the army’s intelligence unit, Georges Picquart, uncovered evidence pointing to another French military officer, Major Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy, as the real traitor. (42) However, when Picquart told his bosses what he’d discovered he was discouraged from continuing his investigation, transferred to North Africa and later imprisoned. (42) Although Jewish immigration was creating a certain amount of tension with the local population, mainly among the merchant and notable classes, in 1901 the Sublime Porte (the Ottoman central government) gave Jews the same rights as Arabs to buy land in Palestine and the percentage of Jews in the population rose to 7% by 1914. (40) At the same time, with growing distrust of the Young Turks – Turkish nationalists who had taken control of the Empire in 1908 – and the Second Aliyah, Arab nationalism was on the rise, and in Palestine anti-Zionism was a unifying characteristic. (40)


In around 1897 a movement called political Zionism had begun in Europe, (25,27) founded by secular Jews, largely as a response by Ashkenazi Jews to rising antisemitism in Europe, exemplified by the Dreyfus affair in France and the anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire. (27) European Jews — 90 percent of all Jews at the time — arrived at Zionism partly because of rising anti-Semitic persecution and partly because the Enlightenment introduced Jews to secular nationalism. (66) Herzl wrote essays and organized meetings that spurred mass Jewish emigration from Europe to what’s now Israel/Palestine. (66) Before Herzl, about 20,000 Jews lived there. (66) Its intention was to create a Jewish state in Palestine (25,27) “I believe that a wondrous generation of Jews will spring into existence. (27) The Maccabeans will rise again. (27) Let me repeat once more my opening words: The Jews who wish for a State will have it. (27) We shall live at last as free men on our own soil, and die peacefully in our own homes. (27) The world will be freed by our liberty, enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness. (27) And whatever we attempt there to accomplish for our own welfare, will react powerfully and beneficially for the good of humanity.” (27) Until 1917, the World Zionist Organization pursued a strategy of building a Jewish National Home through persistent small-scale immigration and the founding of such bodies as the Jewish National Fund (1901 – a charity that bought land for Jewish settlement) and the Anglo-Palestine Bank (1903 – provided loans for Jewish businesses and farmers). (27) This would involve pushing out the Christian and Muslim inhabitants who made up over 95 % of its population and replacing them with Jewish immigrants. (25) European Jews — 90 % of all Jews at the time — arrived at Zionism partly because of rising anti-Semitic persecution (7) for example the 1881–1884 anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire (40) and partly because the Enlightenment introduced Jews to secular nationalism. (7) In the 1890s, Theodor Herzl (27,40) secular (66) Jewish journalist living in Austria-Hungary (40,66) witnessed brutal European anti-Semitism firsthand, and became convinced the Jewish people could never survive outside of a country of their own. (66) He infused Zionism with a new ideology and practical urgency. (27) He was the first to turn rumblings of Jewish nationalism into an international movement around 1896. (66) His activity led to (27) the First Zionist Congress at Basel in 1897, (27,59) which created (27) OR A year later, Herzl founded the (40) World Zionist Organization (WZO). (27) Herzl’s aim was to initiate necessary preparatory steps for the development of a Jewish state. (27) This was the only major Zionist conference which Dr. Weizmann failed to attend. (59) The political movement was formally established by Herzl in 1897 (27) OR 1896 (40) following the publication of his book Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State). (27,40) In this he asserted that the only solution to the “Jewish Question” in Europe, including growing anti-Semitism, was the establishment of a state for the Jews. (40) Herzl’s attempts to reach a political agreement with the Ottoman rulers of Palestine were unsuccessful and he sought the support of other governments. (27) The WZO supported small-scale settlement in Palestine; it focused on strengthening Jewish feeling and consciousness and on building a worldwide federation. (27) The “Basel program” was approved at the Congress in 1897: its first line states: “Zionism seeks to establish a home (Heimstätte) for the Jewish people in Palestine secured under public law”. (27,40) At the age of 27 Dr. Chaim Weizmann dared to criticize Herzl as “too visionary”. (59) In France, the Dreyfus case was developing: rumours about Esterhazy’s possible guilt began to circulate. (42) In 1898, he was court-martialled but quickly found not guilty; he later fled the country. (42) After Esterhazy’s acquittal, a French newspaper published an open letter titled “J’Accuse…!” by well-known author Emile Zola in which he defended Dreyfus and accused the military of a major cover-up in the case. (42) As a result, Zola was convicted of libel, although he escaped to England and later managed to return to France. (42) The Dreyfus affair deeply divided France, not just over the fate of the man at its centre but also over a range of issues, including politics, religion and national identity. (42) In 1899, Dreyfus was court-martialed for a second time and found guilty. (42) He was pardoned days later by the French president, but not re-instated in the army for another 7 years. (42) In 1900, at the Fourth Zionist Convention, Chaim Weizmann emerged as the leader of the Democratic Zionist faction. (59) This group opposed both the political Zionists, who wanted political guarantees for the establishment of a Jewish home in Palestine, and the practical Zionists, who wanted to settle Jewish colonies in the Holy Land without regard to political guarantees. (59) Dr. Weizmann helped reconcile their differences. (59) The Russian Empire, with its long record of state-organized genocide and ethnic cleansing (“pogroms”), was widely regarded as the historic enemy of the Jewish people. (27) The Zionist movement’s headquarters were located in Berlin, as many of its leaders were German Jews who spoke German. (27) Herzl proposed two possible destinations to colonize, Argentina and Palestine. (27) He preferred Argentina for its vast and sparsely populated territory and temperate climate, but conceded that Palestine would have greater attraction because of the historic ties of Jews with that area. (27) In 1903, British Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain made his trip to East Africa. On the basis of this he offered Herzl (27,40) 5,000 square miles in the Uganda Protectorate in Great Britain’s East African colonies, for Jewish settlement. (27) Called the Uganda Scheme, it was introduced the same year to the WZO Congress at its 6th meeting, where (27) a fierce debate ensued. (27,40) Some groups felt that accepting the scheme would make it more difficult to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, the African land was described as an “ante-chamber to the Holy Land”. (27) It was decided to send a commission to investigate the proposed land by 295 to 177 votes, with 132 abstaining. (27) The initial response of the Catholic Church to Zionism was one of strong opposition. (27) Shortly after the 1897 Basel Conference, the semi-official Vatican periodical (edited by the Jesuits) Civiltà Cattolica gave its biblical-theological judgement on political Zionism: “1827 years have passed since the prediction of Jesus of Nazareth was fulfilled … (27) that [after the destruction of Jerusalem] the Jews would be led away to be slaves among all the nations and that they would remain in the dispersion [diaspora, galut] until the end of the world.” The Jews should not be permitted to return to Palestine with sovereignty: “According to the Sacred Scriptures, the Jewish people must always live dispersed and vagabondo [vagrant, wandering] among the other nations, so that they may render witness to Christ not only by the Scriptures … (27) but by their very existence”. (27) Herzl travelled to Rome in late January 1904, after the sixth Zionist Congress (August 1903) and six months before his death, looking for some kind of support. (27) On January 22, Herzl first met the Papal Secretary of State, Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val. (27) According to Herzl’s private diary notes, the Cardinal’s interpretation of the history of Israel was the same as that of the Catholic Church, but he also asked for the conversion of the Jews to Catholicism. (27) Three days later, Herzl met Pope Pius X, who replied to his request of support for a Jewish return to Israel in the same terms, saying that

“we are unable to favour this movement. We cannot prevent the Jews from going to Jerusalem, but we could never sanction it … The Jews have not recognized our Lord, therefore we cannot recognize the Jewish people.” (27)

Herzl died in 1904, (27,40) and in the following year, congress sent a delegation to inspect the plateau. (27) A temperate climate due to its high elevation, was thought to be suitable for European settlement. (27) However, the area was populated by a large number of Maasai, who did not seem to favour an influx of Europeans. (27) Furthermore, the delegation found it to be filled with lions and other animals. (27) The Congress decided (27,40) on the fourth day of its seventh session in July 1905 (27) to decline the British offer of Uganda (27,40) and, according to Adam Rovner, “direct all future settlement efforts solely to Palestine”. (27) He died 44 years before the establishment of State of Israel, the Jewish state that he proposed, without having gained the political standing required to carry out his agenda. (40)

Chaim Weizmann before 1914

Chaim Weizmann’s life was sufficiently full of adventure, romance, accomplishment and fulfilment to have been lived by a dozen men. (59) Chaim (56,57) Azriel (58) Weizmann was born (56,57) of humble parents (58,59) in (56,57) the small town of (57,58) Motol (56,58) OR Motele, near Pinsk. (49) Motol was then in the Polish part of (58) Russia (56,57) now in Belarus, (58) on November 27th, (56,58) 1874. (4,56) He was the third (58,59) of 15 children of Ezer (58) OR Reb Oizer (59) and Rachel Czermerinsky (59) Weizmann, a lumber transporter (58) OR timber merchant. (59) The Weizmanns managed the remarkable task of sending nine of their fifteen children to universities. (59) All except one of the children ultimately became scientists, physicians, dentists, engineers, and teachers. (58) Motol lay close to dense forests, surroundings that instilled in the boy a love of trees that was to persist the rest of his life. (58) Despite slender means, the parents arranged for their offspring to receive the benefits of advanced education after strict Jewish orthodox schooling. (58,59) He first attended a cheder (Jewish religious school) (59) in childhood. (58,59) He received a combined Jewish and secular education. (57,48) He went first until he was 11 (59) and imbibed Jewish nationalist culture and ideals (as distinct from traditional pietistic knowledge) under his father’s influence. (58) At the age of 11 he wrote a letter in Hebrew to his Hebrew teacher in Motol urging with boyish fervour that the Jewish people must return to Zion. (58) Later that year he was sent to the secondary school (58) (‘Gymnasium’ (59)) in nearby (48) Pinsk, where (58,59) he pursued scientific studies (56,57) encouraged by a discerning science master. (58) He spent adolescent summers riding his father’s log rafts downriver to Baltic ports. (58) He had a brilliant record in science and mathematics. (59) Upon matriculating, the young student, irked by university quotas restricting Jewish admissions, left Russia in 1891 (58) OR 1894 (59) spending the next four years in Germany at the Technische Hochschule of Darmstadt and Berlin-Charlottenburg (59) in Germany. (56,57) When a favourite professor joined the staff of the University of Freiburg (59) OR Fribourg (58) in Switzerland (56,57), Dr. Weizmann went there to study. (59) He studied chemistry (58) OR biochemistry (56) OR science (59) in Geneva. (56) He obtained the Ph.D. (58,59) magna cum laude at, (58) in 1900. (58,59) Within a year, (59) he took a position as lecturer in organic chemistry at the University of Geneva, where he taught and continued his research (58,59) concentrating on dyestuffs and aromatics. (58) until 1904. (59) He eked out small remittances from home by teaching science and Russian. (58) By selling several patented discoveries in the late 1890s, he mitigated his chronic financial straits and was able to help his younger brothers and sisters through college. (58) Throughout his student and teaching years (58) he became active in the Zionist movement, (56,57) and assumed increasing dominance as a Zionist politician. (58) His first speech to the biennial Zionist Congress in 1903 proposed the establishment of a Hebrew University. (59) He gained prominence as the leader of the “Young Zionist” opposition to Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, especially in the “Uganda dispute,” which erupted in 1903–05 over a British proposal for Jewish agricultural settlement in East Africa. (58) Whereas Theodor Herzl had been the founder of the modern Zionist movement; Dr. Weizmann gave it practical direction. (59) It was in Geneva (58,59) in 1900 (58) that he met Vera Chatzman, a medical student, in Geneva, and six years later they married; they had two sons. (58,59) Weizmann moved from Switzerland to the UK (40,56) in 1904 (40,57) OR 1905. (56) He settled in England and began his scientific career as a research chemist at Manchester University. (57,58) For fifteen years, while teaching chemistry there, he headed the “Manchester Group” of British Zionists. (59) He was elected to the (56) Actions Committee (58) of the General Zionist Council (56,58) in 1905, but he played only a secondary role in the movement until 1914. (58) In 1906 (59) he met Arthur Balfour – who had just launched his 1905–1906 election campaign (40,49) after resigning as Prime Minister – in a session arranged by Charles Dreyfus, his Jewish constituency representative. (40) Earlier that year, Balfour had successfully driven the Aliens Act through Parliament with impassioned speeches regarding the need to restrict the wave of immigration into Britain from Jews fleeing the Russian Empire. (40) During this meeting, he asked what Weizmann’s objections had been to the 1903 Uganda Scheme that Herzl had supported to provide a portion of British East Africa to the Jewish people as a homeland. (40) Weizmann responded that he believed the English are to London as the Jews are to Jerusalem. (40) Balfour asked him if there were many Zionists like him, and Weizmann, whose celebrated remarks were legendary, replied, “The roads of Pinsk are paved with them.” (59) Weizmann convinced Balfour that Palestine rather than Uganda, British East Africa, which had been offered by the British, was the proper homeland for the Jews. (59) In 1906 Dreyfus was officially was exonerated and reinstated in the army. (42) On his first visit to Palestine in 1907 he was instrumental in founding the Palestine Land Development Company. (59) This was typical of this ability to convert ideas into practical realities. (59) In 1909 Weizmann received a D. Sc. from Manchester University in 1909 and in 1910 he became a naturalized British subject. (59) His proposal to establish a Hebrew University was accepted at the Eleventh World Zionist Congress in 1913. (59) In January 1914 Weizmann first met Baron Edmond de Rothschild, a member of the French branch of the Rothschild family and a leading proponent of the Zionist movement, in relation to a project to build a Hebrew university in Jerusalem. (40) The Baron was not part of the World Zionist Organization, and transferred them to the Jewish Colonization Association in 1899. (40)

The Second Aliyah 1904-14

The Second Aliyah, which began in 1904, consisted of immigrants who were primarily idealists, inspired by the revolutionary ideals then sweeping the Russian Empire who sought to create a communal agricultural settlement system in Palestine. (67) They thus founded the kibbutz movement. (67) The first kibbutz, Degania, was founded in 1909. (67) Tel Aviv was founded at that time, on land purchased from Bedouins north of Jaffa, though its founders were not necessarily from the new immigrants. (67) The Second Aliyah is largely credited with the revival of the Hebrew language and establishing it as the standard language for Jews in Israel. (67) Eliezer Ben-Yehuda contributed to the creation of the first modern Hebrew dictionary. (67) Although he was an immigrant of the First Aliyah, his work mostly bore fruit during the second. (67)

The Ottoman Empire in Decline

The Ottoman Empire (1516-1924), in the last few decades before its collapse, lost control over many of its territories to the growing powers of colonial countries. (51) France took control of Algeria (1830) and Tunisia (1881), Italy took over Libya (1911), while Britain gained control of Aden protectorate (1939), Oman (1861), Arabian Gulf chiefdoms (1820) and Kuwait (1899). (51) On the other hand, Muhammad Ali, a powerful Ottoman leader, unilaterally ruled Egypt, and his sons succeeded him, until the country fell into British custody in 1882. (51) Sudan fell under British control in 1899. (51) Meanwhile, according to Iraqi historian Sayyar al Jamil, the Ottomans’ strongholds in the Levant and Iraq, during the empire’s latter years, included the provinces of Damascus, Aleppo, Raqqa, Basra and Baghdad. (51) The “Second Aliyah” took place between 1904 and 1914, during which approximately 40,000 Jews immigrated, mostly from Russia and Poland, and some from Yemen. (67) In 1909, Ben-Gurion, who was living in the Ottoman Empire, attempted to learn Arabic but gave up. (34) He later became fluent in Turkish. (34) The only other languages he was able to use when in discussions with Arab leaders were English, and to a lesser extent, French. (34)

World War I

As World War I erupted in July 1914, the weakening Ottoman Empire allied with Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire to confront Britain, France (51,67) and Russia. (27) To this end the Ottoman Caliphate had declared a military jihad in support of the Germans. (32,50) Given Russia’s anti-semitism, at the start of World War I, most Jews (and Zionists) supported Germany and Turkey in the war with Russia. (27) The British hoped that an alliance with the Arabs would (32) establish a new front during the war, (50) help in overthrowing the Ottoman Empire (52,55) and quell the chances of a general Muslim uprising in British-held territories in Africa, India, and the Far East. (32) Ben-Gurion was living in Jerusalem at the start of the First World War, where he and Ben Zvi recruited forty Jews into a Jewish militia to assist the Ottoman Army. (34) Despite this he was deported to Egypt in March 1915. (34) From there he made his way to the United States where he remained for three years. (34) On his arrival he and Ben Zvi went on a tour of 35 cities in an attempt to raise a pioneer army, Hechalutz, of 10,000 men to fight on Turkey’s side. (34) Immediately following their declaration of war on the Ottoman Empire in November 1914, the British War Cabinet began to consider the future of Palestine. (40) The British were certain that Arabs would welcome the opportunity to live under a British protectorate rather than under the Ottomans. (40a) In fact, there was little interest on the part of Arabs to be ruled by Christians. (40a) As an illustration of Britain’s poor intelligence in the region, we learn of Muhammed Sharif al-Faruqi, who emerged in 1915-6 and came to be trusted by the British as a voice of the Arabs and Emir Hussein in particular. (40a) Al-Faruqi promised help in a British victory. (40a) Little is known about him, but Britain’s dealings with al-Faruqi led to a complete change in planning for the postwar Middle East and the role France, Russia, and the Arabs would play in it. (40a) Ultimately, the misunderstandings or deception between the British and al-Faruqi had lasting consequences essentially up to the present. (40a) A dance ensued in British relations with the Arabs in which they intimated independence if the Arabs helped in the war effort, but what was really meant was British dominion. (40a) In November 1914, the British had occupied Basra. (49) According to the report of the de Bunsen Committee, British interests in Mesopotamia were defined by the need to protect the western flank of India and protect commercial interests including oil. (49) The British also became concerned about the Berlin-Baghdad Railway. (49) British policy-makers assumed that the Triple Entente would succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empire during World War I. (49) Although never ratified, the British had also initialled the Anglo-Ottoman Convention of 1913. (49) There was little interest on the part of the British in opening a southern front. (40a) In the ‘Great Game’ mentality, the Ottoman Empire was a useful buffer between the British and the Russians. (40a) However, the course of the war led to a gradual evolution in British thinking on the desire to preserve the Ottoman Empire and the relative weight of long-term distrust of Russia versus a current necessary ally in the war. (40a) Through Rothschild’s wife Dorothy, Weizmann was to meet Rózsika Rothschild, who introduced him to the English branch of the family – in particular her husband Charles and his older brother Walter, a zoologist and former member of parliament (MP). (40) Zionist diplomacy legitimately sought a Great Power patron since Herzl, (64) On 25th November 1914, Chaim Weitzmann’s Rothschild connection bore fruit when the Baron’s son, James de Rothschild, requested a meeting with him, to enlist him in influencing those deemed to be receptive within the British government to their agenda of a “Jewish State” in Palestine. (40) Thus he came into contact with the “movers and shakers” of British society. (57) Endowed with great personal charm and eloquence, Weizmann became the spokesman of the Zionist cause in British political and intellectual circles. (57) He gave valuable assistance to the British munitions industry, then (1916) in dire need of acetone (a vital ingredient of cordite), by devising a process to extract the solvent from maize. (58) The father of Rózsika and Charles, Nathan Rothschild, 1st Baron Rothschild, head of the English branch of the family, had a guarded attitude towards Zionism, but he died in March 1915 and his title was inherited by Charles’ brother Walter. (40) At a meeting David Lloyd George, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, “referred to the ultimate destiny of Palestine”. (40) Secretary of State for War, Kitchener, being a commander with perceived expertise in the Middle East was not questioned. (40a) The Chancellor, whose law firm Lloyd George, Roberts and Co had been engaged a decade before by the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland to work on the Uganda Scheme. (40) Within two months a memorandum was circulated to the Cabinet by a Zionist Cabinet member, Herbert Samuel, proposing the support of Zionist ambitions in order to enlist the support of Jews in the wider war. (40) A committee was established in April 1915 by British Prime Minister H.H. Asquith to determine their policy toward the Ottoman Empire including Palestine. (40) Asquith, who had favoured post-war reform of the Ottoman Empire, resigned in December 1916; (40) his replacement David Lloyd George, favoured partition of the Empire. (27,40) He was to become Prime Minister by the time of the Balfour declaration, and was ultimately responsible for it. (40) The Arabs promised support for the British that they were in no position to provide. (40a) In the year from autumn 1916, all three of the major Allied powers (Britain, France, and Russia) had a change of government. (40a) In all cases, the new governments had very different ideas about the Middle East than had their predecessors. (40a) David Lloyd George became prime minister looking much more covetously at the Middle East. (40a) Shortly thereafter, Georges Clemenceau became premier of France. (40a) Historically, he had felt negatively about colonial expansion believing that France had overextended herself in the late 1800s making her vulnerable to the Germans. (40a) Perhaps most dramatic, the Russian revolution led to Russia pulling out of the war. (40a) To compound this, German attacks propelled the United States into the war on the side of the Allies. (40a) Woodrow Wilson’s personal beliefs in self-determination drove him to support independence for the peoples of the Middle East. (40a) The ambiguity of language permitted the British to agree with Wilson, when in fact they intended to maintain a protectorate. (40a)

The British adopt Zionism

In a parallel development, for a range of moral, religious, and political reasons, (40a,64) including its own imperial agenda, (64) the British government adopted the Zionist cause. (40a,64) This does not detract from the righteousness of the Zionist cause. (64) The first negotiations between the British and the Zionists took place at a conference on 7th February 1917 that included Sir Mark Sykes and the Zionist leadership. (40) Subsequent discussions led to Balfour’s request, on 19th June, that Rothschild and Chaim Weizmann submit a draft of a public declaration. (40) Further drafts were discussed by the British Cabinet during September and October, with input from Zionist and anti-Zionist Jews but with no representation from the local population in Palestine. (40) By late 1917, in the lead up to the Balfour Declaration, the wider war had reached a stalemate, with two of Britain’s allies not fully engaged: the United States had yet to suffer a casualty, and the Russians were in the midst of a revolution with Bolsheviks taking over the government. (40) A stalemate in southern Palestine was broken by the Battle of Beersheba on 31st October 1917. (40) The release of the final declaration was authorised on 31st October; the preceding Cabinet discussion had referenced perceived propaganda benefits amongst the worldwide Jewish community for the Allied war effort. (40) In 1917 the Turks in Palestine were defeated by British forces and the Ottoman Empire collapsed. (6) Haifa was captured from the Ottomans in September 1918 by Indian horsemen of the British Army armed with spears and swords who overran Ottoman positions. (48) On 22nd September, British troops were heading to Nazareth when a reconnaissance report was received indicating that the Turks were leaving Haifa. (48) The British made preparations to enter the city and came under fire in the Balad al-Sheikh district (today Nesher). (48) After the British regrouped, an elite unit of Indian horsemen were sent to attack the Turkish positions on the flanks and overrun their artillery guns on Mount Carmel. (48) President Woodrow Wilson’s stand for self-determination for all nations, and the U.S. entry into World War I, helped cause the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and stimulate the move toward independence in the Arab world. (22) Notable early supporters of Zionism include British Prime Ministers David Lloyd George and Arthur Balfour, American President Woodrow Wilson and British Major-General Orde Wingate, whose activities in support of Zionism led the British Army to ban him from ever serving in Palestine. (27) The opening words of the declaration represented the first public expression of support for Zionism by a major political power. (40) The term “national home” had no precedent in international law, and was intentionally vague as to whether a Jewish state was contemplated. (40)

Progress of the Arab Revolt

The Arab revolt was officially initiated by Hussein at Mecca on 10th June 1916 although his sons ‘Ali and Faisal had already initiated operations at Medina starting on 5th June. (49) The timing had been brought forward by Hussein and, according to Cairo, “Neither he nor we were at all ready in early June, 1916, and it was only with the greatest of difficulty that a minimum of sufficient assistance in material could be scraped together to ensure initial success.” (49) Colonel Edouard Brémond was dispatched to Arabia in September 1916 as head of the French military mission to the Arabs. (49) According to Cairo, Brémond was intent on containing the revolt so that the Arabs might not in any way threaten French interests in Syria. (49) Hussein’s letter of 18th February 1916 appealed to McMahon for £50,000 in gold plus weapons, ammunition and food claiming that Feisal was awaiting the arrival of “not less than 100,000 people” for the planned revolt and McMahon’s reply of 10th March 1916 confirmed the British agreement to the requests and concluded the ten letters of the correspondence. (49) In April and May, there were discussions initiated by Sykes as to the merits of a meeting to include Picot and the Arabs to mesh the desiderata of both sides. (49) At the same time, logistics in relation to the promised revolt were being dealt with and there was a rising level of impatience for action to be taken by Hussein. (49) Finally, at the end of April, McMahon was advised of the terms of Sykes-Picot and he and Grey agreed that these would not be disclosed to the Arabs, (49) because by dividing the area into British and French League of Nations mandates it contradicted the earlier McMahon conversations. (67) The Arab revolt was officially initiated by Hussein at Mecca on 10th June 1916 although his sons ‘Ali and Faisal had already initiated operations at Medina starting on 5th June. (49) The timing had been brought forward by Hussein and, according to Cairo, “Neither he nor we were at all ready in early June, 1916, and it was only with the greatest of difficulty that a minimum of sufficient assistance in material could be scraped together to ensure initial success.” Colonel Edouard Brémond was dispatched to Arabia in September 1916 as head of the French military mission to the Arabs. (49) According to Cairo, Brémond was intent on containing the revolt so that the Arabs might not in any way threaten French interests in Syria. (49) These concerns were not taken up in London, British-French cooperation was thought paramount and Cairo made aware of that. (49) (Wingate was informed in late November that “it would seem desirable to impress upon your subordinates the need for the most loyal cooperation with the French whom His Majesty’s Government do not suspect of ulterior designs in the Hijaz”.) (49) Hussein was persuaded to agree to a formula to the effect that the French would pursue the same policy in Syria as the British in Baghdad; since Hussein believed that Baghdad would be part of the Arab State, that had eventually satisfied him. (49) Later reports from participants expressed doubts about the precise nature of the discussions and the degree to which Hussein had really been informed as to the terms of Sykes–Picot. (49)

Preliminaries to the Sykes Picot Agreement


Britain and France were well established in the region — France through economic and cultural influence in the area known as the Levant, and Britain in Egypt, which London had occupied since 1882. (50) The report of the De Bunsen Committee, prepared to determine British wartime policy toward the Ottoman Empire, and submitted in June 1915, concluded that, in case of the partition or zones of influence options, there should be a British sphere of influence that included Palestine while accepting that there were relevant French and Russian as well as Islamic interests in Jerusalem and the Holy Places. (49) In the Constantinople Agreement earlier in 1915, following the start of naval operations in the run up to the Gallipoli Campaign the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Sazonov, wrote to the French and UK ambassadors and staked a claim to Constantinople and the Straits of Dardanelles. (49) Although this agreement was ultimately never implemented because of the Russian revolution, it was in force as well as a direct motivation for it at the time the Sykes–Picot Agreement was being negotiated. (49) ??? On 21 October 1915, Grey met Cambon and suggested France appoint a representative to discuss the future borders of Syria as Britain wished to back the creation of an independent Arab state. (49) At this point Grey was faced with competing claims from the French and from Hussein and the day before had sent a telegram to Cairo telling the High Commissioner to be as vague as possible in his next letter to the Sharif when discussing the northwestern, Syrian, corner of the territory Husein claimed and left McMahon with “discretion in the matter as it is urgent and there is not time to discuss an exact formula”, adding, “If something more precise than this is required you can give it.” (49) Meanwhile Mark Sykes had been dispatched on instructions of the War Office at the beginning of June to discuss the Committee’s findings with the British authorities in the Near and Middle East and at the same time to study the situation on the spot. (49) He went to Athens, Gallipoli, Sofia, Cairo, Aden, Cairo a second time and then to India coming back to Basra in September and a third time to Cairo in November (where he was appraised of the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence) before returning home on 8 December and finally delivering his report to the War Committee on 16 December. (49)

Negotiating the agreement


Beginning in November (53,55) 23rd (53) 1915, (53,55) Great Britain negotiated (32,55) a secret convention (53,55) known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement, agreeing to partition (32,55) the floundering Ottoman Empire (50) between Britain and France, (32,55) with the assent of imperial Russia. (53,55) It is also called the Asia Minor Agreement, (52,55) (May (55) 1916). The agreement was the result of secret deliberations between the British (32,55) and French (52,55) first represented by Sir Arthur Nicolson. (53)


After December 21st (49,53) on 28th December, (49) the civil servant (52) Sir (53,55) Mark Sykes (52,55) took over. (49,52) He informed Clayton that he had “been given the Picot negotiations”. (49) He was a leading expert on the East, (53) a political adviser, diplomat, politician, military man and traveller. (51) Sykes was born into a wealthy family, and had published a number of books while still in his twenties. (51) His work included two books on military science and three on the Ottoman Empire and Islamic countries that tackled the region’s political geography and contained Sykes’ own observations during his travels in the Levant and Anatolia. (51) In 1915, upon Sykes’ recommendation, the Arab Bureau was established. (51) The entity served as a British intelligence bureau in Egypt and was tasked with controlling the political activities in the Near East. (51) It is believed to have revived the old names of Ottoman-administered regions, such as “Palestine”, “Syria” and “Iraq”. (51)


The French were represented by a professional (51,53) diplomat (52,53) François Georges-Picot, (52,55) son of historian Georges Picot, (51) who had extensive experience in the Levant. (53) After working at the Court of Appeal in Paris for two years he joined the diplomatic circuit in 1896. (51) He served as secretary to the Ambassador in Copenhagen before being appointed as Consul-General in Beirut shortly before World War I. (51) In Beirut, Picot established strong relationships with the Maronite Christian leaders, then moved to Cairo before heading back to Paris in the spring of 1915. (51) As a member of the French Colonial Party, he defended Arab orientalists who supported the French mandate in their own countries. (51)


The issues between the Arabs and the French were not taken up in London: British-French cooperation was thought paramount and Cairo made aware of that. (49) (Wingate was informed in late November that “it would seem desirable to impress upon your subordinates the need for the most loyal cooperation with the French whom His Majesty’s Government do not suspect of ulterior designs in the Hijaz”.)


As 1916 drew to a close, the Asquith government which had been under increasing pressure and criticism mainly due to its conduct of the war, gave way on 6th December to David Lloyd George who had been critical of the war effort and had succeeded Kitchener as Secretary of State for War after his untimely death in June. (49) Lloyd George set up a new small War Cabinet initially comprising Lords Curzon and Milner, Bonar Law, Arthur Henderson and himself; Hankey became the Secretary with Sykes, Ormsby-Gore and Amery as assistants. (49) Although Balfour replaced Grey as Foreign Secretary, his exclusion from the War Cabinet and the activist stance of its members weakened his influence over foreign policy. (49) Picot informed the Nicolson committee that France claimed the possession of land starting from where the Taurus Mts approach the sea in Cilicia, following the Taurus Mountains and the mountains further East, so as to include Diabekr, Mosul and Kerbela, and then returning to Deir Zor on the Euphrates and from there southwards along the desert border, finishing eventually at the Egyptian frontier. (49) Picot, however, added that he was prepared “to propose to the French government to throw Mosul into the Arab pool, if we did so in the case of Bagdad”. (49)

December 1915 Meeting

A second meeting of the Nicolson committee with Picot took place on 21st December 1915 wherein Picot said that he had obtained permission to agree to the towns of Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Damascus being included in the Arab dominions to be administered by the Arabs. (49) Although the French had scaled back their demands to some extent, the British also claimed to want to include Lebanon in the future Arab State and this meeting also ended at an impasse. (49) But, as the Blue Area extended so far eastwards, and affected Russian interests, it would be absolutely essential that, before anything was concluded, the consent of Russia was obtained. (49) Picot was informed and 5 days later Cambon told Nicolson that “the French government were in accord with the proposals concerning the Arab question”. (49)

Negotiations with Imperial Russia

Later, in February and March, Sykes and Picot acted as advisors to Sir George Buchanan and the French ambassador respectively, during negotiations with Sazonov. (49) Eventually, Russia having agreed (for a price, as it obtained large portions of Ottoman territory in the bargain, including Constantinople and the Straits) on 26th April 1916, the final terms were sent by Paul Cambon, the French Ambassador in London, to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Edward Grey, on 9 May 1916, and ratified in Grey’s reply on 16 May 1916. (49)

McMahon Hussein Correspondence

Sir Henry McMahon was the British high commissioner in Egypt. (50,52) While Sykes and Picot were in negotiations, discussions were proceeding in parallel between Cairo and Hussein (the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence). (49) He corresponded with the Hāshimite dynast (55) Hussein (50,52) OR Ḥusayn (55) bin (52) OR ibn (55) Ali, the Sharif of Mecca. (52,55) Britain made promises (32,50) of an independent Arab state (50) to the Hashemite governors of Arabia through Lawrence of Arabia (32) and during the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence (32,52) between 1915 and 1916. (52) Hussein was about to bring the Arabs of the Hejaz into revolt against the Turks (55) on the understanding that the Arabs would eventually receive a much more important share of the fruits of victory (52,55) in the form of an independent Arab state, (32,52) or confederation of Arab states (52) covering Syria (32) which would be recognised and protected by France and Great Britain (52) in exchange for their supporting the British against the Ottoman Empire. (32) The Arabs regarded McMahon’s promises as a formal agreement, (52,67) which it may very well have been (52) promising immediate Arab independence. (67) The boundaries proposed by Hussein included Palestine. (52) But this area was not explicitly mentioned in the McMahon–Hussein correspondence. (52) Hussein’s reply of 1st January to McMahon’s 14th December 1915 was received at the Foreign Office, McMahon’s cover stating:

Satisfactory as it may be to note his general acceptance for the time being of the proposed relations of France with Arabia, his reference to the future of those relations adumbrates a source of trouble which it will be wise not to ignore. I have on more than one occasion brought to the notice of His Majesty’s Government the deep antipathy with which the Arabs regard the prospect of French Administration of any portion of Arab territory. In this lies considerable danger to our future relations with France, because difficult and even impossible though it may be to convince France of her mistake, if we do not endeavour to do so by warning her of the real state of Arab feeling, we may hereafter be accused of instigating or encouraging the opposition to the French, which the Arabs now threaten and will assuredly give.’

After discussions, Grey instructed that the French be informed of the situation although Cambon did not take the matter that seriously. (49) Hussein’s letter of 18th February 1916 appealed to McMahon for £50,000 in gold plus weapons, ammunition and food claiming that Feisal was awaiting the arrival of “not less than 100,000 people” for the planned revolt and McMahon’s reply of 10th March 1916 confirmed the British agreement to the requests and concluded the ten letters of the correspondence. (49) In April and May, there were discussions initiated by Sykes as to the merits of a meeting to include Picot and the Arabs to mesh the desiderata of both sides. (49) At the same time, logistics in relation to the promised revolt were being dealt with and there was a rising level of impatience for action to be taken by Hussein. (49) At the end of April, McMahon was advised of the terms of Sykes-Picot and he and Grey agreed that these would not be disclosed to the Arabs. (49)

Downing Street Meeting December 1916

After a series of diplomatic exchanges over five weeks (49) Britain, France and Russia (49,51) decided to partition the territories of the Ottoman Empire in the Arab Orient and Anatolia. (51,55) The controlling powers were left free to determine state boundaries within their areas. (49) At a Downing Street meeting of 16 December 1915 (49) Sykes said, pointing to a map before him: “I should like to draw a line from the ‘e’ in Acre (on the Mediterranean coast) to the last ‘k’ in Kirkuk (in modern-day Iraq).” (49,50)

January-May 1916

On 3rd January 1916, an initialled memorandum was forwarded to the Foreign Office and after having been circulated for comments, an interdepartmental conference was convened by Nicolson on 21st January. (49) On 16th January, Sykes told the Foreign office that he had spoken to Picot and that he thought Paris would be able to agree. (49) Following the meeting, a final draft agreement was circulated to the cabinet on 2nd February, the War Committee considered it on the 3rd and finally at a meeting on the 4th between Bonar Law, Mr. Chamberlain, Lord Kitchener and others where it was decided that:

M. Picot may inform his government that the acceptance of the whole project would entail the abdication of considerable British interests, but provided that the cooperation of the Arabs is secured, and that the Arabs fulfil the conditions and obtain the towns of Homs, Hama, Damascus and Aleppo, the British Government would not object to the arrangement.’

The terms of the partition agreement were specified in a letter dated May 9th 1916, which Paul Cambon, French ambassador in London, addressed to Sir Edward Grey, British foreign secretary. (53)

The Sykes-Picot Agreement, May 1916

These terms were ratified in a return letter from Grey to Cambon (53) on May 16th, 1916 (51,53) and the agreement became official in an exchange of notes among the three Allied Powers on April 26th and May 23rd. (53) Appendix 7: Terms of SP Agreement It provided a general understanding of British and French spheres of influence in the Middle East. (52) The goal (52) OR end product (55) was to divide between them the Ottoman Empire’s Arab provinces. (52,55) Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine. (55) The fear of clashing allies is most manifest on the Sykes-Picot map in its treatment of Palestine. (54) Sykes and Picot divided the Arab provinces of the empire by an east-west “line in the sand” across the Syrian Desert. (54) This line across a map of the Middle East created (51,52) colonial spheres of influence (52) OR states (51) that cut directly and artificially across a region that had previously been divided along ethnic, linguistic and religious lines, (51,52) creating nations but reviving rivalries. (50) Territory north of the line would come under French protection, directly or indirectly, and territory to the south would be controlled directly or indirectly by the British. (50)

Arabian Peninsula

The agreement did not include the Ottoman Arab provinces in the Arabian Peninsula. (51,52)

Blue Zone

North of that line, there would be a “blue” zone (53,54) under exclusive French control (52,54) France got control of Turkey, , (49) OR the greater part of Galilee, up to the line stretching from north of Acre to the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee, (53) including Lebanon and the Syrian littoral (54,55) with Beirut and Tripoli) (54) and southeastern (49) parts of what is now Turkey, namely (50) Cilicia. (53,55) They would also get Area “A”, (52.3) eastward, Syria (49) (including Damascus, Homs, Hama, Aleppo, (54) OR in the Syrian hinterland (53) including Aintab, Urfa, Mardin, and Diyarbakır, (55) and northern Iraq (49) Mosul, (54,55) an Arab state (or states) (53, 54) under French protection (53,54) plus Adana, and the hinterland adjacent to Russia’s share. (55)

Red Zone

Area “B” (52) A “red” zone (53,54) was to be under British influence and control: (52,54) roughly comprising the coastal strip between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan, Jordan, (49) southern Mesopotamia, including Basra and Baghdad, (54,55) and an additional small area that included (49) the Mediterranean ports of Haifa and ʿAkko (Acre) (54,55) (to allow access to the Mediterranean) (49) and the plain between them, (54) with rights to build a railway from there to Baghdad, (53) which Britain hoped to construct. (54) The territory east of the Jordan River and the Negev desert, south of the line stretching from Gaza to the Dead Sea, was allocated to an Arab state under British protection; (53) (“Area B”). (52,53) Within a “Red Zone,” Britain would get southern Mesopotamia, or Iraq including Baghdad, along with the Mediterranean ports of Haifa and Acre. (50) Between the French and the British acquisitions there should be a confederation of Arab states or a single independent Arab state, divided into French and British spheres of influence. (50,55) This would be in the south of the country, and include Hebron and Beer Sheba, as well as Transjordan. (54) The notion was that this would be an Anglo-French condominium, with a yet-undetermined measure of input from other allies. (54)

Brown Zone: Palestine

According to the agreement,

In the brown area there shall be established an international administration, the form of which is to be decided upon after consultation with Russia, and subsequently in consultation with the other Allies [the reference is to Italy], and the representatives of the Shereef of Mecca.”

(In an earlier joint memo in January 1916, Sykes and Picot wrote that “the chief of the Arabian confederation should have an equal voice in the administration of Palestine.”) (54) The Sanjak of Jerusalem’, (53) Palestine, (50,55) including Jerusalem, was designated by the colour brown and was to be under an international administration. (49,50) The area was similar to but smaller than Mandate Palestine) (49), extending southwards toward the line running approximately from Gaza to the Dead Sea, (53) OR the form of which was to be decided upon after consultation with Russia, and subsequently in consultation with the other Allies, and the representatives of Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca. (49) The bulk of ‘Palestine’, including Jerusalem, Jaffa, Nazareth, Tiberias, and Gaza, is in the brown zone. (54) All sides agreed that the exact governance of the Holy Places was to be left for later settlement. (49) The Sykes-Picot map thus constitutes the first partition plan for Palestine, into no fewer than five zones. (54) The British later gained control of the brown zone and other territory in 1920 and ruled it as Mandatory Palestine from 1923 until 1948, and an increased sphere of influence in Iran. (49) Since Palestine includes both modern day Israel and Jordan both Arab and Jewish residents of this area were referred to as “Palestinians”. (62)

Russian Zone

Russia was to get Istanbul, the Turkish Straits and Armenia. (49)


But it was a product of fear as much as of greed, if not more so. (54) The fear was that in the aftermath of war, Britain and France, old rivals, would clash disastrously over the remnants of the Ottoman Empire. (54) Sykes-Picot had the same logic as Yalta thirty years later: It proposed an orderly partition to keep wartime allies from plunging into a new conflict after victory. (54) And a good case can be made that when it came to preventing clashes between two rivals, Sykes-Picot was much more effective than Yalta. (54) Preserving the balance of power was its primary objective, and in that respect, Sykes-Picot achieved its purpose. (54) Why so many pieces? Again, balance of power. (54) Sykes had hoped to create a British-controlled land bridge from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean, but other Allied claims stood in the way. (54) So the agreement regarding Palestine made concessions to the interests of almost every stakeholder: Britain, France, Russia, Italy, and the Sharif of Mecca. (54) Almost everyone: missing from the list were the Zionists. (54) Twenty years later, George Antonius would call Sykes-Picot a “shocking document.” (54) Alexandretta (İskenderun) should be a free port; and Palestine, because of the holy places, should be under an international regime. (55) To the south there would be an Arab state (or states) under British protection (mostly desert). (54) The first thing one notices is that Palestine doesn’t fit neatly within the dualistic rubric of the French and British zones. (54) This corner of the map is, in fact, divided five ways. (54) A wedge in the north of the country, including the tributaries of the Jordan above the Sea of Galilee and part of the northern shore of the lake, are solid blue, that is, under direct French control. (54) The eastern shore of the lake and the Golan are marked off as part of the Arab state under French protection. (54)

Reactions to Sykes Picot

By the British

Almost as soon as the Sykes Picot Agreement had been made the British began to backtrack on it. (HN) In the years that followed, the Sykes-Picot Agreement became the target of bitter criticism both in France and in England. (53) Lloyd George referred to it as an “egregious” and a “foolish” document. (53) He said that he was “in the position of a man who had inherited two sets of engagements, those to King Hussein and those to the French”. (49) It broke the promises already given to the Arabs by the British (52,55) for an Arab homeland in the area of Greater Syria in exchange for their support for British forces against the Ottoman Empire. (50) “The two men paid lip service to the promise of Arab independence… but then divided in two the region that the British high commissioner had offered to Hussein.” (50) The War Cabinet, reviewing the agreement at the conference at Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne on 25th April, “inclined to the view that sooner or later the Sykes–Picot Agreement might have to be reconsidered … (49) No action should be taken at present in this matter”. (49) In between the meetings with Hussein, Sykes had informed London that “the sooner French Military Mission is removed from Hedjaz the better” and then Lord Bertie was instructed to request the same from the French on the grounds that the mission was hostile to the Arab cause and which “cannot but prejudice Allied relations and policy in the Hedjaz and may even affect whole future of French relations with the Arabs”. (49) After the French response to this, on 31 May 1917, William Ormsby-Gore wrote:

The British Government, in authorising the letters despatched to King Hussein [Sharif of Mecca] before the outbreak of the revolt by Sir Henry McMahon, would seem to raise a doubt as to whether our pledges to King Hussein as head of the Arab nation are consistent with French intentions to make not only Syria but Upper Mesopotamia another Tunis. (49) If our support of King Hussein and the other Arabian leaders of less distinguished origin and prestige means anything it means that we are prepared to recognize the full sovereign independence of the Arabs of Arabia and Syria. (49) It would seem time to acquaint the French Government with our detailed pledges to King Hussein, and to make it clear to the latter whether he or someone else is to be the ruler of Damascus, which is the one possible capital for an Arab State, which could command the obedience of the other Arabian Emirs.

Many British officials soon wanted to shred it. (54) They thought Sykes had given away far too much to the French. (54) In particular, they didn’t trust the French on the flank of the Suez Canal, which was the imperial lifeline to India. (54) And if the British and the ANZACs were going to do all the fighting and dying to liberate Palestine, why should Britain share it with anyone? As Lloyd George later wrote of the armies under Allenby:

The redemption of Palestine from the withering aggression of the Turk became like a pillar of flame to lead them on. The Sykes-Picot Agreement perished in its fire. It was not worth fighting for Canaan in order to condemn it to the fate of Agag and hew it in pieces before the Lord. Palestine, if recaptured, must be one and indivisible to renew its greatness as a living entity.” (54)

Sykes himself backtracked from the agreement, tried to get Picot to modify it, and helped formulate the Balfour Declaration. (54) As for international or dual control, in the brown area, “it would be fraught with gravest dangers…. Any enterprise in the country would have to be sanctioned by both governments and would lead constantly to jealousies.” (54)


The SPA also excited the ambitions of Italy. (55) Imperial Russia and Italy rallied to the accord. (50) OR Italy’s participation in the war, governed by the Treaty of London, eventually led to the (49) Agreement of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in April 1917; (49,50) by this Great Britain and France promised southern and southwestern Anatolia to Italy; (55) at this conference, Lloyd George had raised the question of a British protectorate of Palestine and the idea “had been very coldly received” by the French and the Italians. (49) OR it was communicated to the Italians in August 1916 after the Italian declaration of war against Germany. (55)

Soviet Russia

The official Soviet ideological position on Zionism condemned the movement as akin to bourgeois nationalism. (45) Russian claims in the Ottoman Empire, which had been granted as part of the Sykes Picot Agreement, were denied following the Bolshevik Revolution. (49) The defection of Russia from the war cancelled the Russian aspect of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, and the Turkish Nationalists’ victories after the military collapse of the Ottoman Empire led to the gradual abandonment of its projects for Anatolia. (55) In retaliation the Bolsheviks released a copy of the Sykes–Picot Agreement (as well as other treaties) in Izvestia and Pravda on 23rd November 1917 and in the British Guardian on November 26th, 1917. (49) This caused great embarrassment between the allies and growing distrust between them and the Arabs. (49)


Sykes Picot benefited them

The Zionists confirmed the details of the Agreement with the British government, earlier (49) in April. (49,54) Many people presume that the Sykes-Picot agreement advanced the Zionist project in Palestine. (54) The British were always pro-Zionist, except when occasionally forced otherwise by Arab pressure. (63) The Zionist movement celebrated Sir Mark Sykes as one of its own, so many have assumed that he must have designed the agreement to serve the Zionist interest. (54) In the words of a Palestinian professor of history at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank,

Sykes-Picot was a carefully-designed plan and prelude to the Balfour Declaration. The creation of Israel on Palestinian land would not have been possible without the Sykes-Picot agreement.”

A former Israeli Ambassador has written that the Sykes-Picot agreement “politically and materially contribut[ed] to the realization of the Zionist vision.” (54) He has even suggested that its anniversary belongs on the same Zionist calendar with the anniversaries of the Balfour Declaration and the UN partition resolution of 1947, as “milestones on the path to Jewish statehood.” (54)

Sykes-Picot was not to their benefit

This is exactly wrong. (54) The agreement shocked the Zionists in London when the British Zionist activist Harry Sacher got wind of it from a friendly journalist who picked up news of it from France. (54) Sacher informed Chaim Weizmann, who was distressed to find that the agreement displayed not a single trace of consideration for Zionist aims. (54) Zionist aspirations were passed over and this lapse was severely criticized by William R. Hall, head of the Intelligence Department of the British Admiralty, who pointed out that the Jews have “a strong material, and a very strong political interest in the future of the country and that in the Brown area the question of Zionism… [ought] to be considered.” (53) Chaim Weizmann, said it was “fatal to us…. it was not a full treaty; but it was sufficiently official to create the greatest single obstacle to our progress.” (54) Zionist leaders had been deep in discussion about Palestine with sympathetic British officials, including Sykes. (54) Weizmann was stunned by two aspects of the agreement. (54) First, the Sykes-Picot partition thoroughly divided the Yishuv (Jewish residents). (54) Many of the most veteran Zionist settlements—Metullah, Rosh Pina, Yesod Hama’alah, Mishmar Hayarden—would be in the exclusively French zone, as would Safed. (54) The internationalized brown zone would include Jerusalem, Jaffa, and Tiberias, as well as newer settlements such as Tel Aviv, Petah Tikvah, Rishon Lezion, Rehovot, and Zichron Yaakov. (54) Weizmann said this was a “Solomon’s judgment of the worst character, the child is cut in two and both halves mutilated.” Were Sykes-Picot implemented, he protested, “the Jewish colonizing effort of some thirty years [would be] annihilated.” (54) Second, the agreement gave France a dominant role as far as the Jews were concerned. (54) France would have full control of the Galilee settlements, and would be on equal par with Britain in Judaea and the coastal plain. (54) Weizmann regarded France as wholly unsympathetic to Zionism; far from facilitating Zionist colonization, France would block it. (54) So what was he to do? Weizmann’s immediate move was to show up at the Foreign Office and protest to Lord Robert Cecil, acting Foreign Secretary. (54) Weizmann’s report of that meeting is the most thorough Zionist critique of Sykes-Picot. (54) Weizmann denounced the proposed division between the Galilee and Judaea in emphatic terms. (54) “We would always consider [this] as an unjust partition,” and the Galilee “would certainly constitute a Jewish irredenta…. (54) There is little doubt that the suggested division of Palestine would raise an outcry which will ring through from one end of the world to the other.” (54) And Weizmann succeeded: in regard to Palestine, he managed to overturn Sykes-Picot entirely. (54) Weizmann even warned that “the Zionists throughout the world would regard a French administration in Palestine as… ‘a third destruction of the Temple.’” From April 1917, Weizmann devoted himself and his movement to overturning Sykes-Picot. (54) The Zionists had one aim: to swap the Sykes-Picot partition plan for an exclusively British protectorate over the whole of Palestine. (54) Only under a British protectorate, Weizmann rightly concluded, could the Jewish home project take root and flourish. (54) In 1919, the Zionist leader Nahum Sokolov wrote: “From the standpoint of Zionist interests in Palestine, [Sykes-Picot] justly met with severe criticism; but it was Sykes himself who criticized it most sharply and who with the change of circumstances dissociated himself from it entirely.” (54)

Arab Reaction

The Arabs, (50,55) who dreamt of a unified homeland, (50) had learned of the Sykes-Picot Agreement through the publication of it, together with other secret treaties of imperial Russia, by the Soviet Russian government late in 1917. (50,55) The Arab activist George Antonius said that it was “the product of greed at its worst.” (54) The Arabs were dismayed (49) OR scandalized (55) because it negated the UK’s promises to Arabs made for a national Arab homeland in the area of Greater Syria, in exchange for supporting the British against the Ottoman Empire. (49) Arab resentment persisted despite the modification of its arrangements for the Arab countries by the Allies’ Conference of San Remo in April 1920. (55) In the years that followed, the Sykes-Picot agreement also became the target of bitter criticism, from Kurds who had their hopes for autonomy dashed. (50) The lands awarded to Russia, the Armenian provinces of Erzurum, Trebizond (Trabzon), Van, and Bitlis, with some Kurdish territory to the southeast, became an academic issue after the Kemalist takeover. (55) The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claims one of the goals of its insurgency is to reverse the effects of the Sykes–Picot Agreement. (49) “This is not the first border we will break, we will break other borders,” a jihadist from the ISIL warned in a video titled End of Sykes-Picot. (49) ISIL’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in a July 2014 speech at the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, vowed that “this blessed advance will not stop until we hit the last nail in the coffin of the Sykes–Picot conspiracy”. (49) The Franco-German geographer Christophe Neff wrote that the geopolitical architecture founded by the Sykes–Picot Agreement disappeared in July 2014 and with it the relative protection of religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East. (49) He claimed furthermore that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in some way restructured the geopolitical structure of the Middle East in summer 2014, particularly in Syria and Iraq. (49) Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin presented a similar geopolitical analysis in an editorial contribution for the French newspaper Le Monde. (49) “The Turks were delighted”. (49)

Long Term impact of Sykes Picot

The extent to which Sykes-Picot actually shaped the borders of the modern Middle East is disputed. (49) Either It became a dead letter as regards Palestine no later than 1918, if not earlier. (54) OR It became the real cornerstone of the geopolitics structuring the entire region. (52,67) In the Levant, the Sykes-Picot Agreement was initially used directly as the basis for the 1918 Anglo–French Modus Vivendi which agreed a framework for the Occupied Enemy Territory Administration. (49) More broadly it was to lead, indirectly, to the subsequent partitioning of the Ottoman Empire following Ottoman defeat in 1918. (49) Many sources contend that Sykes-Picot conflicted with the Hussein–McMahon Correspondence of 1915–1916 and that the publication of the agreement in November 1917 caused the resignation of Sir Henry McMahon. (49) There were several points of difference, the most obvious being Iraq placed in the British red area and less obviously, the idea that British and French advisors would be in control of the area designated as being for an Arab State. (49) Lastly, while the correspondence made no mention of Palestine, Haifa and Acre were to be British and the brown area (a reduced Palestine) internationalised. (49) Leading up to the centenary of Sykes-Picot in 2016, great interest was generated among the media and academia concerning the long-term effects of the agreement. (49) The agreement is frequently cited as having created “artificial” borders in the Middle East, “without any regard to ethnic or sectarian characteristics, [which] has resulted in endless conflict.” (49) Here is that view: “It created the modern Middle East, framing the contours of modern nation states in a region where before there had been none”, (50,52) and sowing the seeds of many of its problems. (50) It represents one of the first instalments in a long line of modern European – and subsequent American – meddling in the region. (52) The cause of many of the subsequent clashes were unrealistic promises made to each side by the British; promises directly related to the artificial arrangement of the modern Middle East initiated by the Sykes-Picot Agreement. (52) It was essentially an accord between two colonialist powers external to the region, and so it would have devastating effects. (52) A century on, the Middle East continues to bear the consequences of the treaty, and many Arabs across the region continue to blame the subsequent violence in the Middle East, from the occupation of Palestine to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), on the Sykes-Picot treaty. (51) And, in providing a set of unrealistic and impossible promises to the Arabs, it led directly to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (52) The Sykes-Picot map proclaimed that no one actor could unilaterally determine the fate of the country. (54) There were too many conflicting interests. (54) Jean-Paul Chagnollaud said that “On a symbolic level, the Sykes-Picot Agreement evokes a strong sensation in the collective memories of the peoples of the region, and that is humiliation… Decades later they have different problems but they all have their root, in some way or another, in the Sykes-Picot Agreement.” (50) Laurens disagrees, saying those countries should “stop having a feeling of victimhood.” (50) That led to “states without a nation”, such as Jordan, or “nations without states.” (50)

Allenby enters Jerusalem

Weizmann was credited with having suggested to David Lloyd George the strategy of the campaign against Turkey which resulted ultimately in (59) The British-led Egyptian Expeditionary Force, commanded by Edmund (67) Allenby made a victorious march on Jerusalem. (49,59) The British entered Jerusalem on December 9th, 1917 with Allenby on foot (49,67) 2 days later accompanied by representatives of the French and Italian detachments. (49) He famously dismounted from his horse when he entered Jerusalem as a mark of respect for the Holy City and was greeted by the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic leaders of the city. (67) Allenby occupied the whole of the Levant following the defeat of Turkish forces in Palestine at the Battle of Megiddo in September 1918 and the capitulation of Turkey on 31st October. (67) After this, as part of the Mesopotamian Campaign, on 11th March 1917, the British entered Baghdad. (49) Thus by the time World War I ended in 1918, the British had taken control of Palestine. (61,67)

The Balfour Declaration, November 1917 (see Appendix 6 for Text)

The Russian revolution and the entry into WWI of the United States in 1917 changed the rules of the game, according to French historian Henry Laurens. (50) When the news of the Sykes Picot Agreement leaked out, Sachar wrote to Weizmann in disgust: “We have been lied to and deceived all along.” (54) The need to secure Jewish support in Eastern Europe as the Russian front collapsed, culminated in the Balfour Declaration, (32) of November (34,40) 1917, with Britain promising to create and foster a Jewish national home in Palestine, (4,10) then an Ottoman region with a minority Jewish population (around 3-5% of the total). (40) The British foisted Zionism on the Palestinians beginning with the Balfour Declaration as part of their imperial strategy, with no right whatsoever in international law. (63) Throughout his life, Weizmann combined scientific endeavour with intensive involvement in Zionist activities. (57) Perhaps his principal contribution to the movement came as a result of his work as a scientist in the first World War. (59) As head of the British Admiralty Laboratories from 1917 to 1919, Dr. Weizmann developed (59) a process for the manufacture of synthetic acetone (57,59) at a time when the British needed it desperately. (59) He isolated certain organisms found in cereals and horse chestnuts and within a month had created synthetic acetone for British explosives. (59) This scientific assistance to the Allied forces in World War I (56,57) brought him into close contact with British leaders (56) who were favourable to Zionism, (22) among them Lord Balfour and Winston Churchill. (57) His work on acetone signally aided the Zionist political negotiations he was then conducting with the British government. (58,59) Although he gained international renown as a chemist, (58,59) it was as a politician that he was most eminent. (58) He played a key role in the issuing of the Balfour Declaration on November 2, 1917. (27,56) The Balfour Declaration was the crucial step in the unravelling the Palestine corner of the Sykes-Picot map. (54) It was Weizmann’s reward for the scientific and political work he had done in Britain. (59) It became the key to ultimate Zionist victory. (59) Sykes also played a significant role in the drafting of the “Balfour Declaration”. (51) Lobbying by Russian Jewish immigrant Chaim Weizmann together with fear that American Jews would encourage the USA to support Germany in the war against communist Russia, culminated in (27) the British government’s (4,27) Balfour Declaration (4,10) on 8th (38) OR 2nd (49) November (34,40) was published in the press on 9th November, (40) 1917. (4,10) It promised British support for a Jewish “national home” in Palestine. (52) Part of this very short text reads as follows: His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object… (52) It endorsed the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, (27, 52) as follows: His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment (27) in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, (4,10) and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that (27) nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, (4,27) or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country. (27) Text The declaration called for safeguarding the civil and religious rights for the Palestinian Arabs, who composed some 94% of the local population, and also the rights of the Jewish communities in other countries outside of Palestine. (40) For all Weizmann’s services the British Prime Minister asked him what he wanted in return. (59) Dr. Weizmann refused any monetary reward or a title, and said, “There is only one thing I want–a national home for my people.” (59)

Reactions to the Balfour Declaration by the Jews

The Balfour Declaration, likewise, was seen by Jewish nationalists as the cornerstone of a future Jewish homeland. (67) It was hailed as the Magna Carta of the Zionist movement, (59) but it confused the issue established by the previous assurances given to the Arabs. (52) It was supported by a joint resolution of the Congress of the United States and led Jews everywhere to believe the redemption of Palestine was assured. (59) The declaration was a central factor in Jewish aspirations even in the darkest days when war, then changes in British policy, including support of the Arab position, seemed to doom the whole idea of a Jewish homeland. (59) Opponents of the policy claimed that it might prejudice the position of the local population of Palestine and encourage antisemitism worldwide by “stamping the Jews as strangers in their native lands”. (40) After the Balfour, in 1918, Ben-Gurion, with the interest of Zionism in mind, switched sides and joined the newly formed Jewish Legion of the British Army. (34) He volunteered for the 38th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, one of the four which constituted the Jewish Legion. (34) His unit fought against the Turks as part of Chaytor’s Force during the Palestine Campaign. (34) Ben-Gurion and his family returned permanently to Palestine after World War I following its conquest by the British from the Ottoman Empire. (34)

Soviet Reaction

On 22nd November 1917, Leon Trotsky, addressed a note to the ambassadors at Petrograd “containing proposals for a truce and a democratic peace without annexation and without indemnities, based on the principle of the independence of nations, and of their right to determine the nature of their own development themselves”. (49) Lenin, claiming to be deeply committed to egalitarian ideals and universality of all humanity, rejected Zionism as a reactionary movement, “bourgeois nationalism”, “socially retrogressive”, and a backward force that deprecates class divisions among Jews. (45) Peace negotiations with the Quadruple Alliance – Germany, Austria–Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey – started at Brest–Litovsk one month later. (49) On behalf of the Quadruple Alliance, Count Czernin, replied on 25th December that the “question of State allegiance of national groups which possess no State independence” should be solved by “every State with its peoples independently in a constitutional manner”, and that “the right of minorities forms an essential component part of the constitutional right of peoples to self- determination”. (49)

Arab reaction to Balfour

Some of the Arabs felt that Britain was violating the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence and the understanding of the Arab Revolt. (67) “He who did not own gave a promise to those who did not deserve.” (63)

Versailles Conference


Sykes was the author of the Hogarth Message, a secret January 1918 message to Hussein following his request for an explanation of the Balfour Declaration and the Bassett Letter was a letter (also secret) dated 8 February 1918 from the British Government to Hussein following his request for an explanation of the Sykes–Picot Agreement. (49) The failure of the Projet d’Arrangement reflected poorly on Sykes and following on from the doubts about his explanations of Sykes-Picot to Hussein the previous year, weakened his credibility on Middle Eastern affairs throughout 1918. (49) Still (at his own request, now Acting Adviser on Arabian and Palestine Affairs at the Foreign Office) he continued his criticism of Sykes-Picot, minuting on 16 February that “the Anglo–French Agreement of 1916 in regard to Asia Minor should come up for reconsideration” and then on 3 March, writing to Clayton, “the stipulations in regard to the red and blue areas can only be regarded as quite contrary to the spirit of every ministerial speech that has been made for the last three months”. (49) As the Allied victory in World War I became more likely, at least in the Middle East, the dishonesty with which the Allies and their Arab allies had treated each other became apparent. (40a) Each sought to position themselves to gain the most in the Middle East after the war. (40a) This was to continue as the peace was being constructed. (40a) Wilson had rejected all secret agreements made between the Allies and promoted open diplomacy as well as ideas about self-determination. (49) In his turn, Lloyd George delivered a speech on war aims on 5 January, including references to the right of self-determination and “consent of the governed” as well as to secret treaties and the changed circumstances regarding them. (49) Three days later, Wilson weighed in with his Fourteen Points, the twelfth being that “the Turkish portions of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development”. (49) Britain’s David Lloyd George attempted to play Woodrow Wilson’s idealistic self-determination against French, Italian, and Greek desires for territorial gain in the former Ottoman Empire. (40a) On December 23rd, 1917, Sykes (who had been sent to France in mid-December to see what was happening with the Projet d’Arrangement) and a representative of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs had delivered public addresses to the Central Syrian Congress in Paris on the non-Turkish elements of the Ottoman Empire, including liberated Jerusalem. (49) Sykes had stated that the accomplished fact of the independence of the Hejaz rendered it almost impossible that an effective and real autonomy should be refused to Syria. (49) However, the minutes also record that the Syrian Arabs in Egypt were not happy with developments and without a clearer, less ambiguous statement in regard to the future of Syria and Mesopotamia then the Allies as well as the King of the Hedjaz would lose much Arab support. (49) On 28th March 1918 the first meeting of the newly formed Eastern Committee was held, chaired by Curzon. (49) The main task Weizmann assigned himself was to remind the British of their promise to aid in the establishment of the Jewish national home. (59) In March (59) 1918, the British government established a Zionist Commission (56,59) to be an official advisory body on all Jewish questions. (59) After his distinguished services in behalf of the British in the First World War (59) Chaim Weizmann was appointed head of it. (56) It was sent to Palestine advise on the future development of the country. (56) While there, Weitzmann laid the foundation stone of the Hebrew University (56,59) on Mount Scopus. (59) In June 1918, while in Jerusalem (56) he travelled to ʿAqaba, (56,58) in southern Transjordan where he met Amīr Fayṣal of Hejaz (58) OR Emir Feisal, son of Sharif Hussein of Mecca, the leader of the Arab movement (56) (later first king of Iraq) (58) to discuss Jewish–Arab cooperation. (56,58) In May, Clayton told Balfour that Picot had, in response to a suggestion that the agreement was moot, “allowed that considerable revision was required in view of changes that had taken place in the situation since the agreement was drawn up”, but nevertheless considered that “agreement holds, at any rate principle”. (49) The British issued the Declaration to the Seven on June 16th, the first British pronouncement to the Arabs advancing the principle of national self-determination. (49) On 30th September 1918, supporters of the Arab Revolt in Damascus declared a government loyal to the Sharif of Mecca. (49) He had been declared King of the Arabs by a handful of religious leaders and other notables in Mecca. (49) The Anglo-French Declaration of November 1918 pledged that Great Britain and France would “assist in the establishment of indigenous Governments and administrations in Syria and Mesopotamia” by “setting up of national governments and administrations deriving their authority from the free exercise of the initiative and choice of the indigenous populations”. (49) The French had reluctantly agreed to issue the declaration at the insistence of the British. (49) Minutes of a British War Cabinet meeting reveal that the British had cited the laws of conquest and military occupation to avoid sharing the administration with the French under a civilian regime. (49) The British stressed that the terms of the Anglo–French declaration had superseded the Sykes–Picot Agreement in order to justify fresh negotiations over the allocation of the territories of Syria, Mesopotamia, and Palestine. (49) George Curzon said the Great Powers were still committed to the Règlement Organique agreement, which concerned governance and non-intervention in the affairs of the Maronite, Orthodox Christian, Druze, and Muslim communities, regarding the Beirut Vilayet of June 1861 and September 1864, and added that the rights granted to France in what is today modern Syria and parts of Turkey under Sykes–Picot were incompatible with that agreement. (49) The Eastern Committee met nine times in November and December to draft a set of resolutions on British policy for the benefit of the negotiators. (49) On 21st October, the War Cabinet asked Smuts to prepare the peace brief in summary form and he asked Erle Richards to carry out this task resulting in a “P-memo” for use by the Peace Conference delegates. (49) The Armistice of Mudros was signed on 30th October 1918 although the British continued their advance, entering Mosul on the 14th November, 1918. (49) The conclusions of the Eastern Committee at page 4 of the P-memo included as objectives the cancellation of Sykes–Picot and supporting the Arabs in their claim to a state with capital at Damascus (in line with the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence). (49) The last nail in the coffin of the Sykes Picot Agreement came (50,54) in a private meeting at the French embassy (49) in London on Sunday (54) December (49,54) 1st (54) 1918. (49,54) Oil had become a strategic issue in the meantime. (50) In a brief conversation between the French and British prime ministers. (50,54) Clemenceau surrendered French rights to Mosul (49,50) where it claimed part of the oil reserves (50) and to Palestine (49,50) that had been given them by the Sykes–Picot Agreement. (49) “Tell me what you want,” said Clemenceau. (54) “I want Mosul,” said Lloyd George. (54) “You shall have it. (54) Anything else?” “Yes, I want Jerusalem too.” “You shall have it.” (54) This was the decisive moment in the Middle East’s division, Laurens said. (50) Exit France. (50,54) There are conflicting views as to whether or not France received anything in exchange. (49) Although Lloyd George and others have suggested that nothing was given in return, according to Rutledge and others, Lloyd George promised at least one or even all of, support for French claims on the Ruhr, that when oil production in Mosul began, France would receive a share and that Sykes–Picot obligation would be maintained as regards Syria. (49) Economic crisis and demands for demobilization by the rank-and-file and the public, however, sapped Britain’s strength. (40a)


The Peace Conference officially opened on 18 January, 1919. (49) Chaim Weizmann led the Zionist delegation to the Peace Conference. (56) He appeared before the Supreme Council of the Paris Peace Conference in support of his cause on Feb. 27th, 1919, at which Robert Lansing, the United States Secretary of State, asked if the term “a Jewish national home” meant an autonomous government. (59) Dr. Weizmann replied that they did not ask for the immediate creation of a Jewish administration but he quite clearly expressed his hope that he would some day see a Jewish majority in Palestine and the ultimate creation of a Jewish state. (59) Three days later, on 30 January, the Big Four (initially, a “Council of Ten” comprising two delegates each from Britain, France, the United States, Italy and Japan) agreed the outlines of a Mandate system (including three levels of Mandate) later to become Article 22 of the League Covenant. (49) The Ottoman Empire was dissolved at the end of World War I. (62) The League of Nations’ objective with the mandate system was to administer the parts of the former Ottoman Empire, which the Middle East had controlled since the 16th century, “until such time as they are able to stand alone”. (67) Some wanted a unification with Syria: in February 1919, several Muslim and Christian groups from Jaffa and Jerusalem met and adopted a platform endorsing unity with Syria and opposition to Zionism (this is sometimes called the First Palestinian National Congress). (67) A letter was sent to Damascus authorizing Faisal to represent the Arabs of Palestine at the Paris Peace Conference. (67)Weizmann met the Emir Hussein (58) OR the Arab Prince Feisal (59) again during the Versailles peace conference (58) OR in his camp near Amman. (59) He convinced him that the proposed Jewish national home held no existing threat to the Arabs and that Jewish-Arab cooperation was desirable. (59) He won Arab support to help carry out the Balfour Declaration, (59) and reached (58,59) a written (58) agreement (58,59) for large-scale Jewish immigration into Palestine and the protection of Arab rights. (59) The Big Four would later decide which communities, under what conditions and which Mandatory. (49) Minutes taken during a meeting of The Big Four held in Paris on March 20, 1919 and attended by Woodrow Wilson, Georges Clemenceau, Vittorio Emanuele Orlando as well as Lloyd George and Lord Balfour, explained the British and French points of view concerning the agreement. (49) It was the first topic brought up during the discussion of Syria and Turkey, and formed the focus of all discussions thereafter. (49) The Anglo-French Declaration was read into the minutes, Pichon commenting that it showed the disinterested position of both governments in regard to the Arabs and Lloyd George that it was “more important than all the old agreements”. (49) Pichon went on to mention a scheme of agreement of 15th February based on the private agreement reached between Clemenceau and Lloyd George the previous December. (49) (According to Lieshout, just before Faisal made his presentation to the conference on the 6th, Clemenceau handed Lloyd George a proposal which appears to cover the same subject matter; Lieshout having accessed related British materials dated the 6th whereas the date in the minutes is unsourced. (49) In the subsequent discussions, France staked its claim to Syria (and its mandate) while the British sought to carve out the Arab areas of zones A and B arguing that France had implicitly accepted such an arrangement even though it was the British that had entered into the arrangement with the Arabs. (49) Wilson intervened and stressed the principle of consent of the governed whether it be Syria or Mesopotamia. (49) He thought the issues involved the peace of the world and were not necessarily just a matter between France and Britain. (49) He suggested that an Inter-Allied Commission be formed and sent out to find out the wishes of local inhabitants in the region. (49) The discussion concluded with Wilson agreeing to draft a Terms of Reference to the Commission. (49) On 21st April, Faisal left for the East. (49) Before he left, on 17th April Clemenceau sent a draft letter, in which the French government declared that they recognized “the right of Syria to independence in the form of a federation of autonomous governments in agreement with the traditions and wishes of the populations”, and claimed that Faisal had recognized “that France is the Power qualified to render Syria the assistance of various advisors necessary to introduce order and realise the progress demanded by the Syrian populations” and on 20th April, Faisal assured Clemenceau that he had been “Deeply impressed by the disinterested friendliness of your statements to me while I was in Paris, and must thank you for having been the first to suggest the dispatch of the inter-allied Commission, which is to leave shortly for the East to ascertain the wishes of the local peoples as to the future organisation of their country. (49) I am sure that the people of Syria will know how to show you their gratitude.” (49) In May 1919 a Syrian National Congress was held in Damascus, and a Palestinian delegation attended its sessions. (67) Meanwhile, as of late May, the standoff between the French and the British as to disposition of forces continued, the French continued to press for a replacement of British by French troops in Syria amid arguments about precise geographical limits of same and in general the relationship suffered; after the meeting on the 21st, Lloyd George had written to Clemenceau and cancelled the Long–Bérenger Oil Agreement (a revised version of which had been agreed at the end of April) claiming to have known nothing about it and not wanting it to become an issue while Clemenceau claimed that had not been the subject of any argument. (49) At the same time, from late 1918 through 1921, riots and revolts erupted throughout the Middle East from Egypt in the west to Afghanistan in the east. (40a) As a result of these developments, Britain was more open to French involvement and greater devolution to local populations. (40a) In particular, Britain helped Feisal and Abdullah of the House of Hashem as the rulers of Iraq and Transjordan respectively and the House of Saud on the Arabian peninsula assert their authority over territories to which they personally had little historical connection. (40a) Sir Mark Sykes died of the Spanish flu pandemic in 1919 in Paris where he was attending the peace conference. (51) The Peace treaty with Germany was signed on 28th June, 1919, and with the departure of Wilson and Lloyd George from Paris, the Turkey/Syria question was effectively placed on hold. (49)

After Versailles

On 15th September, the British handed out an Aide Memoire (which had been discussed privately two days before between Lloyd George and Clemenceau whereby the British would withdraw their troops to Palestine and Mesopotamia and hand over Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo to Faisal’s forces. (49) While accepting the withdrawal, Clemenceau continued to insist on the Sykes–Picot agreement as being the basis for all discussions. (49) On 18th September, Faisal arrived in London and the next day and on the 23rd had lengthy meetings with Lloyd George who explained the Aide Memoire and British position. (49) Faisal noted that the arrangement “seemed to be based on the 1916 agreement between the British and the French”. (49) Clemenceau, replying in respect of the Aide Memoire, refused to move on Syria and said that the matter should be left for the French to handle directly with Faisal. (49) Faisal arrived Paris on 20 October and eventually on 6 January 1920 Faisal accepted a French mandate “for the whole of Syria”, while France in return consented “to the formation of an Arab state that included Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo, and was to be administered by the Emir with the assistance of French advisers” (acknowledged “the right of Syrians to unite to govern themselves as an independent nation”. (49) In the meantime, British forces withdrew from Damascus on 26th November. (49) Faisal returned to Damascus on 16th January and Millerand took over from Clemenceau on the 20th. (49) A Syrian National Congress meeting in Damascus declared an independent state of Syria on the 8th of March 1920. (49) The new state intended to include portions of Syria, Palestine, and northern Mesopotamia. (49) Faisal was declared the head of State. (49) At the same time Prince Zeid, Faisal’s brother, was declared Regent of Mesopotamia. (49) Certainly by this time and likely much earlier, there was a Palestinian identity and nationality that differed fundamentally from other Levantine Arab peoples. (63)

The San Remo Conference 1920

Article 22 of the League of Nations Covenant, which contained the general rules to be applied to all Mandated Territories, was written two months before the signing of the Versailles Peace Treaty. (38) It was not known at that time to which territories paragraphs 4, 5 and 6 would relate. (38) In April 1920, the Allied Supreme Council (the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan) met at San Remo and formal decisions were taken on the allocation of mandate territories. (67) The Sykes Picot Agreement was (51,52) illegally (63) made official (51,52) OR officially abrogated (53) by the Allied Powers of the First World War at the San Remo Conference (52,53) in April (49,50) 1920. (52,53) OR by the League of Nations. (63) OR The broad delineations of territory and goals for both the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, and Arab self-determination, which had been stated in the Balfour Declaration, were approved in the San Remo conference. (32,38) Weizmann, who had been awarded the degree of LL. D. by Manchester University in 1919, (59) attended the conference as an observer. (58) It handed out Class A mandates over Syria to France, and Iraq and Palestine to Britain. (49) The same conference ratified an oil agreement reached at a London conference on 12th February, based on a slightly different version of the Long-Bérenger agreement previously initialled in London on 21st December. (49) France had decided to govern Syria directly, and took action to enforce the French Mandate of Syria before the terms had been accepted by the Council of the League of Nations. (49) The French issued an ultimatum and intervened militarily at the Battle of Maysalun in June 1920. (49) Great Britain also appointed a High Commissioner and established their own mandatory regime in Palestine, without first obtaining approval from the Council of the League of Nations, or obtaining the formal cession of the territory from the former sovereign, Turkey. (49) Palestine was then transferred to British control as “Mandatory Palestine”. (38,52) At San Remo it was agreed that The Mandatory (i.e. Britain) would be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on the 8th [2nd] November, 1917, by the British Government, and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country. (38) Following the award of the British Mandate of Mesopotamia at San Remo, the British were faced with an Iraqi revolt against the British from July 1920 to February 1921. (49) The United Kingdom obtained a mandate for Palestine and France obtained a mandate for Syria. (67) The boundaries of the mandates and the conditions under which they were to be held were not decided. (67) The Zionist Organization’s representative at San Remo, Chaim Weizmann, subsequently reported to his colleagues in London: There are still important details outstanding, such as the actual terms of the mandate and the question of the boundaries in Palestine. (67) There is the delimitation of the boundary between French Syria and Palestine, which will constitute the northern frontier and the eastern line of demarcation, adjoining Arab Syria. (67) The latter is not likely to be fixed until the Emir Feisal attends the Peace Conference, probably in Paris. (67)

The Kurds

The Kurds almost got a state. (50) They obtained one in the Treaty of Sevres in August 1920, but the balance of power on the ground changed all that. (50) France received a mandate for Lebanon and Syria but in 1921, withdrew from Cilicia in what is now Turkey when forces of Turkish nationalist Mustafa Kemal Ataturk liberated Anatolia between 1919 and 1922. (50) The Kurds in Northern Iraq revolted against the British being awarded the Mandate over Mesopotamia at San Remo. (49) Following the Cairo conference it was decided that Faisal should be installed as ruler in Mandatory Iraq. (49) As originally cast, Sykes-Picot allocated part of Northern Kurdistan and a substantial part of the Mosul vilayet including the city of Mosul to France in area B, Russia obtained Bitlis and Van in Northern Kurdistan (the contemplated Arab State included Kurds in its Eastern limit split between A and B areas). (49) Bowman says there were around 2.5 million Kurds in Turkey, mainly in the mountain region called Kurdistan. (49) Sharif Pasha presented a “Memorandum on the Claims of the Kurd People” to the Paris peace Conference in 1919 and the suppressed report of the King–Crane Commission also recommended a form of autonomy in “the natural geographical area which lies between the proposed Armenia on the north and Mesopotamia on the south, with the divide between the Euphrates and the Tigris as the western boundary, and the Persian frontier as the eastern boundary”. (49) The Russians gave up territorial claims following the Bolshevik revolution and at the San Remo conference, the French were awarded the French Mandate of Syria and the English the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. (49) The subsequent Treaty of Sèvres potentially provided for a Kurdish territory subject to a referendum and League of Nations sanction within a year of the treaty. (49) However the Turkish War of Independence led to the treaty being superseded by the Treaty of Lausanne in which there was no provision for a Kurdish State. (49) The end result was that the Kurds, along with their Assyrian neighbours, were included in the territories of Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. (49) On 1922, the League of Nations approved the terms of the British Mandate over Palestine and Transjordan, excluding the provision for a Jewish National Home. (67)

The Palestine Mandate 1922

The Zionists found shortly afterward that their principal difficulties were only beginning. (59) The League of Nations had to be organized and a mandate system worked out. (59) The Balfour Declaration was enshrined in a League of Nations mandate in (4,24) 1920 (4) OR 24th July (67) 1922, (6,27) OR with effect from September 1923. (32) OR It was not until August, 1924, that the status of Palestine as a mandated territory was legalized. (59) After subduing revolts in Palestine, Syria and Iraq, (50) Britain (6,10) and France (50) had their mandates confirmed by the League of Nations. (6,50) Britain was entrusted with a (6,10) League of Nations (6) OR colonial (10) mandate for Palestine. (6,10) The preamble of the mandate declared: “Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”. (67) This must include ‘secur[ing] the establishment of the Jewish national home’, and ‘safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, (27,31) it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.’ (67) The terms of the Covenant of the League of Nations held that the purpose of mandates was to secure the “well-being and development” of the people living in those territories. (20) The Palestine Mandate was an explicit document regarding Britain’s responsibilities and powers of administration in Palestine (32) The United States supported it. (10) OR America was the driving force behind the establishment of the Arab states in that region. (22) It provided an interim resolution to the power vacuum in post-World War I Palestine, (6) and lasted until May 1948, (10,52) during which the competing Arab and Zionist nationalist movements clashed with one another. (52) On 16th September the League formally approved a memorandum from Lord Balfour confirming the exemption of Transjordan from the clauses of the mandate concerning the creation of a Jewish national home and Jewish settlement. (67) The exclusive mandate given to the British gave Britain all of Palestine. (54) The Sykes-Picot agreement formally and finally came undone. (54) It is this exclusive British protectorate that eventually made Israel possible. (54) If the Sykes-Picot map had been implemented Israel probably would never have been born, (54)

Treaty of Lausanne July 1923

The Treaty of Lausanne was a peace treaty signed in the Palais de Rumine, Lausanne, Switzerland, on 24th July 1923. (69) It officially settled the conflict that had originally existed between the Ottoman Empire and the Allied French Republic, British Empire, Kingdom of Italy, Empire of Japan, Kingdom of Greece, and the Kingdom of Romania since the onset of World War I. (69) It was the result of a second attempt at peace after the failed Treaty of Sèvres, which was signed by all previous parties, except the Kingdom of Greece, but later rejected by the Turkish national movement who fought against the previous terms and significant loss of territory. (69) The Treaty of Lausanne ended the conflict and defined the borders of the modern Turkish Republic. (69) In the treaty, Turkey gave up all claims to the remainder of the Ottoman Empire and in return the Allies recognized Turkish sovereignty within its new borders. (69) The treaty came into force on 6th August 1924. (69) Thus the modern republic of Turkey, transferred Palestine to British Empire control. (62)


The Muslims and Christians in the territories that were about to become Mandatory Palestine overwhelmingly identified as Arabs, but not yet as an ethno-national Palestinian community. (20) They had warmly welcomed the creation of the first, short-lived, pan-Arab state before (20) it was crushed by the French. (20,49) They deposed the indigenous Arab government, (49) and removed King (49,67) Faisal OR Faisal bin Husayn (67) from Damascus (49,67) in July (67) OR August (49) 1920, (20,49) ending his already negligible control over the region of Transjordan, where local chiefs traditionally resisted any central authority. (67) The sheikhs, who had earlier pledged their loyalty to the Sharif of Mecca, asked the British to undertake the region’s administration. (67) Herbert Samuel asked for the extension of the Palestine government’s authority to Transjordan, but at meetings in Cairo and Jerusalem between Winston Churchill and Emir Abdullah in March 1921 it was agreed that Abdullah would administer the territory (initially for six months only) on behalf of the Palestine administration. (67) In the summer of 1921 Transjordan was included within the Mandate, but excluded from the provisions for a Jewish National Home. (67) In September 1922, (32) in another historically important move, after much internal disagreement, the British supported the Zionist cause in (40a) presenting a memorandum to the League of Nations stating that (32) Transjordan would be excluded from all the provisions dealing with Jewish settlement (32,40) in accordance with Article 25 of the Mandate, and this memorandum was approved on 23 September. (32) The 1922 census of Palestine recorded the population of Palestine as 757,000, of which 78% were Muslims, 11% were Jews, 10% were Christians and 1% were Druze. (67) With Transjordan coming under the administration of the British Mandate, the mandate’s collective territory became constituted of 23% Palestine and 77% Transjordan. (67) The mandate for Palestine, while specifying actions in support of Jewish immigration and political status, stated, in Article 25, that in the territory to the east of the Jordan River, Britain could ‘postpone or withhold’ those articles of the Mandate concerning a Jewish National Home. (67) Transjordan was a very sparsely populated region (especially in comparison with Palestine proper) due to its relatively limited resources and largely desert environment. (67) Palestine and Transjordan were incorporated (under different legal and administrative arrangements) into the “Mandate for Palestine and Transjordan Memorandum” issued by the League of Nations to Great Britain on 29 September 1923 In 1923, an agreement between the United Kingdom and France confirmed the border between the British Mandate of Palestine and the French Mandate of Syria. (67) The British handed over the southern Golan Heights to the French in return for the northern Jordan Valley. (67) The border was re-drawn so that both sides of the Jordan River and the whole of the Sea of Galilee, including a 10-metre-wide strip along the northeastern shore, were made a part of Palestine, with the provisions that Syria have fishing and navigation rights in the lake. (67) Thus Britain allocated nearly 80% of Palestine to Transjordan, so Jordan covered the majority of the land of Palestine under British Mandate. (62) Jordan also included the majority of the Arabs who lived there. (62) Jordan thus became the Arab portion of Palestine. (62) However, with the creation of this Transjordanian emirate in 1921–22, the hamlet of Amman, which had been recently resettled by Circassians, attracted most of the new immigrants from Palestine, and many of those that had previously moved to Salt. (67) At the time, the region shown was split between the Sidon Eyalet and the Damascus Eyalet. (67) The Palestine Exploration Fund published surveys and maps of Western Palestine (aka Cisjordan) starting in the mid-19th century. (67) Even before the Mandate came into legal effect in 1923, British terminology sometimes used ‘”Palestine” for the part west of the Jordan River and “Trans-Jordan” (or Transjordania) for the part east of the Jordan River. (67) The first reference to the Palestinians, without qualifying them as Arabs, is to be found in a document of the Permanent Executive Committee, composed of Muslims and Christians, presenting a series of formal complaints to the British authorities on 26 July 1928. (67)

The administration of the Mandate

It would be hard for the British to facilitate the partitioning of Palestine to establish a Jewish national home in a way that did not prejudice the civil and religious rights of the Arab majority. (6,20) The problem was that just under 90 % of the population of Palestine in 1922, when the British mandate was formally initiated, were Arab Muslims and Christians, with Jews, in many cases recent arrivals, constituting 11 % . (20) In other words, the project of providing “tutelage” to the people of the territory and preparing them for independence was at stark odds with the project of transforming Palestine into a “national home for the Jewish people,” however that was defined. (20)


Under the British Mandate, Haifa saw large-scale development and became an industrial port city. (48) The Bahá’í Faith in 1918 and today has its administrative and spiritual centre in the environs of Haifa. (48) Many Jewish immigrants of the Fourth Aliyah and Fifth Aliyah settled in Haifa. (48) The port was a major source of income, and the nearby towns of the Krayot were established in the 1930s. (48) In the early years of the Mandate, Jewish immigration to Palestine was quite substantial. (63,67) It was facilitated by the British (63) and caused tensions in Arab-Jewish relations over its implications. (63,67) After World War 1 the USA was at times opposed to the creation of the Israel. (22) There would be nothing wrong with Jews returning to “Israel” and simply living as Jewish Syrian citizens, but “the erection of a Jewish State cannot be accomplished without the gravest trespass upon the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. (22) In June (49) 1919, the American King–Crane Commission (22,49) arrived in Syria. (49) Its role was to assess whether the Ottoman territories were ready for self-determination and to see which nations, if any, should act as mandatory powers. (22) It inquired into local public opinion about the future of the country. (49) After many vicissitudes, “mired in confusion and intrigue”, “Lloyd George had second thoughts…”, and the French and British declined to participate. (49) The Syrian National Congress had been convened in May 1919 to consider the future of Greater Syria and to present Arab views contained in a July 2nd resolution to the King-Crane Commission. (49) At that time, many if not most Palestinians saw themselves as Arabs and essentially “southern Syrians.” (20) But once that early Arab state ended, they were, in effect, on their own. (20) They had little choice but to begin defining themselves chiefly as Palestinians. (20) Zionists worked hand in glove with Britain to subjugate the Palestinian people. (63) OR The office of “Mufti of Jerusalem”, traditionally limited in authority and geographical scope, was refashioned by the British into that of “Grand Mufti of Palestine”. (67) Furthermore, a Supreme Muslim Council (SMC) was established and given various duties, such as the administration of religious endowments and the appointment of religious judges and local muftis. (67) In 1920 (56) Chaim Weizmann (27,56) who had been president of the English Zionist Federation from 1917, (58) became the president of the World Zionist Organization (WZO). (27,56) in 1920. (59) Weizmann’s skill as a negotiator was severely tested during the 1920s. (58) From 1921 onward (58) he found it necessary to compromise with the British and the Arabs and to appease his various Zionist opponents. (59) A dauntless protagonist, Weizmann plunged into the ceaseless imbroglios of British policy vacillations, Arab and Jewish revolts, and Zionist internecine feuds and conflicts that were commingled with opposition to himself by adversaries. (58) He travelled the world tirelessly, preaching Zionist ideology and appealing for funds at mass rallies. (58) As leader for many years, he was highly influential in formulating Zionist strategy (57,58) and succeeded in broadening support for the Zionist movement and in mobilizing Jewish capital to further Zionist endeavours in Palestine under the British mandate. (57) Civil war in Palestine between the Jews and Arabs added to his difficulties. (59) The “Palestinian” population had increased rapidly through immigration of Arabs who were attracted by Zionist economic successes, and the Arab population’s living standards rose rapidly during this period. (64) Between 1922 and 1947, the annual growth rate of the Jewish sector of the economy was 13.2%, mainly due to immigration and foreign capital, while that of the Arab was 6.5%. (67) Per capita, these figures were 4.8% and 3.6% respectively. (67) By 1936, the Jewish sector had eclipsed the Arab one, and Jewish individuals earned 2.6 times as much as Arabs. (67) In terms of human capital, there was a huge difference. (67) For instance, the literacy rates in 1932 were 86% for the Jews against 22% for the Arabs, but Arab literacy was steadily increasing. (67) The Arabs insisted that Palestine had been exclusively theirs for thirteen centuries; the Jews maintained the right of prior occupation and historical connections related to their conquest of Palestine in 1200 B.C. (59) Many Arabs saw the influx of Jews as a European colonial movement, and the two peoples fought bitterly. (66) Blood flowed freely in frequent clashes. (59) In April 1920, violent Arab disturbances against the Jews in Jerusalem occurred, which came to be known as the 1920 Palestine riots. (67) The British frequently stood aside when Arabs murdered Jews. (64) The British military administration’s erratic response failed to contain the rioting, which continued for four days. (67) As a result of the events, trust among the British, Jews, and Arabs eroded. (67) Great Britain, confronted by the mounting problems and civil disorders stemming from nascent Arab nationalism, gradually retreated from its commitment to foster a Jewish national home. (58) One consequence was that the Jewish community increased moves towards an autonomous infrastructure and security apparatus parallel to that of the British administration. (67) When the King-Crane Commission of 1919 reported in 1922, its report strongly opposed the establishment of a Jewish state in the Middle East, while simultaneously advocating the independence of the Arab states, particularly “Greater Syria” (a territory which stretched from Egypt to Iraq, which would include Palestine). (22) The report stated that the majority of “Syrians” were against the formation of a Jewish state, suggesting the only way to establish a viable Jewish state was with armed force. (22) The report had taken so long to publish and by the time it was the British and French had defined their own proposal which rendered the King-Crane commission redundant. (22) Britain was responsible for the Palestinian mandate and, after the Balfour Declaration, it supported Jewish immigration in principle, (27) OR The British made efforts to block the Jewish state. (22) Further emigration followed the Russian Revolution and its eruption of violent pogroms, (27) In 1922, the semi-official, Jesuit directed Civiltà Cattolica published a piece by its Viennese correspondent, “anti-Semitism is nothing but the absolutely necessary and natural reaction to the Jews’ arrogance… (27) Catholic anti-Semitism – while never going beyond the moral law – adopts all necessary means to emancipate the Christian people from the abuse they suffer from their sworn enemy”. (27) As part of the intercommunal conflict, some Arab leaders sought to orchestrate anti-Jewish boycotts from 1922, with the official commencement of the British Mandate for Palestine. (28) The British, who had been initially supportive of the Zionist enterprise through the Balfour Declaration and the early mandate, began to backtrack. (64) The result was that the British imposed a settlement upon the Middle East in 1922 in which, for the most part, they themselves no longer believed.” (40a) Due to stiff Arab opposition and pressure against Jewish immigration (27,31) Britain redefined Jewish immigration by restricting its flow according to the country’s economic capacity to absorb the immigrants. (32) In effect annual quotas were put in place as to how many Jews could immigrate, while Jews possessing a large sum of money (£500) were allowed to enter the country freely. (32) At the same time, the Arab population of Haifa also swelled by an influx of migrants, coming mainly from surrounding villages as well as Syrian Hauran. (48) The Arab immigration mainly came as a result of prices and salary drop. (48) The 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British authorities, recorded Haifa as having a population of 9,377 Muslims, 8,863 Christians, 6,230 Jews, and 164 others. (48) By the time of the 1931 census of Palestine, this had increased to 20,324 Muslims, 13,824 Christians, 15,923 Jews, and 332 others. (48) Between the censuses of 1922 and 1931, the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian populations rose by 217%, 256%, and 156%, respectively. (48) Revisionist Zionists, led by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, developed what became known as Nationalist Zionism, whose guiding principles were outlined in the 1923 essay Iron Wall. (27) At Ahdut HaAvoda’s 3rd Congress, held in 1924 at Ein Harod, Shlomo Kaplansky, a veteran leader from Poalei Zion, proposed that the party should support the British Mandatory authorities’ plans for setting up an elected legislative council in Palestine. (34) He argued that a Parliament, even with an Arab majority, was the way forward. (34) Ben-Gurion, already emerging as the leader of the Yishuv (Jewish residents), succeeded in getting Kaplansky’s ideas rejected. (34) Peres recalls his first meeting with Ben-Gurion as a young activist in the No’ar Ha’Oved youth movement. (34) Ben-Gurion gave him a lift, and out of the blue told him why he preferred Lenin to Trotsky: “Lenin was Trotsky’s inferior in terms of intellect”, but Lenin, unlike Trotsky, “was decisive”. (34) When confronted with a dilemma, Trotsky would do what Ben-Gurion despised about the old-style diaspora Jews: he manoeuvred; as opposed to Lenin, who would cut the Gordian knot, accepting losses while focusing on the essentials. (34) The British Government of Palestine developed the port of Haifa and built refineries, thereby facilitating the rapid development of the city as a centre for the country’s heavy industries. (48) Haifa was also among the first towns to be fully electrified. (48) The Palestine Electric Company inaugurated the Haifa Electrical Power Station already in 1925, opening the door to considerable industrialization. (48) The State-run Palestine Railways also built its main workshops in Haifa. (48) As the Jewish colonial project grew through subsequent years, the indigenous Palestinians reacted with occasional bouts of violence; (25) Jewish migration to Palestine and widespread Jewish land purchases from feudal landlords contributed to landlessness among Palestinian Arabs, fuelling unrest. (27) Jewish and Arab communities were granted the right to run their internal affairs, but this was not without tensions and outbreaks of violence, which did occur during the 1920s and 1930s. (6) Riots erupted in Palestine in 1920, 1921 (27) and 1929 (27,28), in which both Jews and Arabs were killed. (27) All these disturbances were justified and spontaneous revolts by the Palestinian people against the British/Zionist alliance and increasing immigration. (63) The British backed the Zionists, who were responsible for and had provoked the disturbances, and punished Palestinians harshly and illegitimately. (63) OR The riots of 1920, 1929 and 1936 were instigated by unscrupulous Arab leaders for their own nefarious purposes, particularly the Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin Al Husseini. (64) Soviets believed that the main objective of the Zionist movement was to bring about a mass immigration of Jews into Israel from countries where they had been scattered among the general population, with a special emphasis placed on the Soviet Union. (45) Stalin initially accepted a limited emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union into Israel in order to invest in what he hoped for would be a socialist Israel. (45) In 1929 took place the Arab Buraq (Western Wall) Uprising. (28) There was a massacre of the Jews in Hebron in 1929. (23) On 16th May 1930 Mohammad Amin al-Husayni proclaimed it ‘Palestine Day’ and called for a general strike on this day. (28) The British moved towards a more sympathetic attitude towards the Arabs with the Passfield White Paper of 1930, and in many other incidents. (64) Eventually, Weizmann’s doctrines of caution antagonized extremist politicians. (58) OR He acted as a moderator among the bitterly quarrelling Zionist factions. (59) Exasperated by counsels of gradualism, some Zionists accused him of undue amenability toward Britain in his political thinking and performance—a characteristic they averred he owed to the genteel influences of the upper English society in which he moved. (58) In 1931, he was removed from his position as president of the World Zionist Organization. (59) Zionists had anticipated this since people usually resist being expelled from their land. (25) In various written documents cited by numerous Palestinian and Israeli historians, they discussed their strategy: they would buy up the land until all the previous inhabitants had emigrated, or, failing this, use violence to force them out. (25) The future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin acknowledged that Zionists had brought terrorism both to the Middle East and to the world at large. (25) As an alternative to Zionism, Soviet authorities established a Jewish Autonomous Oblast in 1934, which remains extant as the only autonomous oblast of Russia. (27) In Egypt, anti-British demonstrations in November 1935 brought about the resumption of negotiations between the two countries for a treaty of independence. (28) There were attacks on Jewish settlements during the Arab revolt from 1936–1939 (23) In Mandatory Syria a promise in March 1936 from the French authorities of self-government was made to end the 50-day Syrian general strike. (28) Between 1896 and 1948, hundreds of thousands of Jews resettled from Europe to what was then British-controlled Palestine. (7) Israeli author Amoz Oz, who today is described as the ‘aristocrat’ of Labor Zionism Israeli Jewish youth from the Socialist Zionist youth movement No’al, meeting with Jewish resistance fighter Simcha Rotem. (27) Founded in 1924, No’al is one of the largest Zionist Youth movements. (27) Labor Zionism originated in Eastern Europe. (27) Socialist Zionists believed that centuries of oppression in antisemitic societies had reduced Jews to a meek, vulnerable, despairing existence that invited further antisemitism, a view originally stipulated by Theodor Herzl. (27) They argued that a revolution of the Jewish soul and society was necessary and achievable in part by Jews moving to Israel and becoming farmers, workers, and soldiers in a country of their own. (27) Most socialist Zionists rejected the observance of traditional religious Judaism as perpetuating a “Diaspora mentality” among the Jewish people, and established rural communes in Israel called “kibbutzim”. (27) The kibbutz began as a variation on a “national farm” scheme, a form of cooperative agriculture where the Jewish National Fund hired Jewish workers under trained supervision. (27) The kibbutzim were a symbol of the Second Aliyah in that they put great emphasis on communalism and egalitarianism, representing to a certain extent Utopian socialism. (27) Furthermore, they stressed self-sufficiency, which became an important aspect of Labor Zionism. (27) Though socialist Zionism draws its inspiration and is philosophically founded on the fundamental values and spirituality of Judaism, its progressive expression of that Judaism has often fostered an antagonistic relationship with Orthodox Judaism. Labor Zionism became the dominant force in the political and economic life of the Yishuv (Jewish residents) during the British Mandate of Palestine. (27) The project of buying Arab land only succeeded in buying a few % of the land, so Zionists created a number of terrorist groups to fight against both the Palestinians and the British. (25) The Arabs had lived in Palestine for more than a thousand years (18) and were opposed to Jewish immigration to Palestine (7,8) seeing it as a European colonial movement. (7) At the time of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, Arab nationalism was running strong. (20) In both Britain’s 1917 Balfour Declaration and the Palestine mandate, the overwhelming Palestinian majority was simply referred to as “existing non-Jewish communities,” with “civil and religious rights,” but not political ones. (20) This meant the British colonial overlords were almost always at odds with both the local Arab population, and also frequently with Jewish leaders. (20) Jews had been arriving in the area since the 1890s. (18) Jews believed that Palestine was the ‘Promised Land’ of the Old Testament and that therefore they had a right to settle there. (18) Friction had soon developed between them and the Arabs, (18,20) and between both and the British authorities. (20) The two peoples fought bitterly; (7,18) in the 1930s there had been a civil war between the two groups.(18) After the death of theorist Ber Borochov, the left-wing and centrist of Poalei Zion split in February 1919 with Ben-Gurion and his friend Berl Katznelson leading the centrist faction of the Labor Zionist movement. (34) The moderate Poalei Zion formed Ahdut HaAvoda with Ben-Gurion as leader in March 1919. (34) In 1920 he assisted in the formation of the Histadrut, the Zionist Labor Federation in Palestine, and served as its General Secretary from 1921 until 1935. (34) In 1930, Hapoel Hatzair (founded by A.D. Gordon in 1905) and Ahdut HaAvoda joined forces to create Mapai, the more moderate Zionist labor party (it was still a left-wing organization, but not as far-left as other factions) under Ben-Gurion’s leadership. (34) Labor Zionism became the dominant tendency in the World Zionist Organization. (34) The Jewish Agency was established in 1929, under the leadership of Chaim Weizmann. (56,58) His control over the world nationalist movement was challenged after Britain announced policy changes unfavourable to Zionist work in Palestine. (58) He therefore resigned in pique in 1930 but was prevailed upon to remain in office. (58)In 1935 Ben-Gurion became chairman of its executive committee, a role he kept until the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. (34) In order to prevent the coalescence of the religious right, the (Zionist Labour) Hisdadrut agreed to a vague “status quo” agreement with Mizrahi in 1935. (34) Ben-Gurion was aware that world Jewry could and would only feel comfortable to throw their support behind the nascent state, if it was shrouded with religious mystique. (34) That would include an orthodox tacit acquiescence to the entity. (34) In 1935 the Revisionist Zionists left the World Zionist Organization because it refused to state that the creation of a Jewish state was an objective of Zionism. (27) Jabotinsky believed that, Zionism is a colonising adventure and it therefore stands or falls by the question of armed force. (27) It is important to build, it is important to speak Hebrew, but, unfortunately, it is even more important to be able to shoot—or else I am through with playing at colonization. (27) Although the Jews originated in the East, they belonged to the West culturally, morally, and spiritually. (27) Zionism was conceived by Jabotinsky not as the return of the Jews to their spiritual homeland but as an offshoot or implant of Western civilization in the East. (27) This worldview translated into a geostrategic conception in which Zionism was to be permanently allied with European colonialism against all the Arabs in the eastern Mediterranean. The revisionists advocated the formation of a Jewish Army in Palestine to force the Arab population to accept mass Jewish migration. (27) The British also ruled Mandatory Iraq from 1920 until 1932. (49) At the 1931 congress, Weizmann was subjected to a vote of no-confidence and was not re-elected president of the Zionist Organization or the Jewish Agency, the expanded body of which he had been the main architect in 1929. (58)


Weizmann toured South Africa in 1931 (58) In 1933, Hitler came to power in Germany. (27,31) Hitrler’s anti-Jewish stance was echoed in the USA and Britain, in both of which countries there were anti-Semites in high places1. (HN) By this time about 160,000 Jews were living in Israel, (66) and a growing number of European Jews were now prepared to spend the money necessary to join them. (32) The Haavara agreement was in place between the Zionist Federation and the German government of the Third Reich to facilitate the emigration of German Jews. (67) The 1935 Nuremberg Laws had stripped the 500,000 German Jews of their citizenship, (32) making German Jews (and later Austrian and Czech Jews) stateless refugees. (27) Jewish migration was impeded by Nazi restrictions on the transfer of finances abroad (departing Jews had to abandon their property), but the Jewish Agency was able to negotiate an agreement allowing Jews resident in Germany to buy German goods for export to Palestine thus circumventing the restrictions. (32) Weizmann, who had been dismissed from his headship of the World Zionist Organisation, turned again to science. (58) In the 1930s (56,58) in 1934, (58) he founded the Daniel Sieff Research Institute at Reḥovot, (56,58) Palestine, (58) with the help of friends in England. (58) It later became the Weizmann Institute, a driving force behind Israel’s scientific research. (56) Chaim Weizmann again served as President of the World Zionist Organisation from 1935-1946. (56) He played a leading part in public efforts to save German Jewry and its property after the advent of the Nazis (1933). (58) Weizmann was re-elected to office in 1935. (58) During the Mandate period, many factories were established and roads and railroads were built throughout the country. (67) The Jordan River was harnessed for production of electric power and the Dead Sea was tapped for minerals—potash and bromine. (67)

The Arab Revolt 1936-9

Sparked off by (20) British colonial rule, (65,67) the growth in Jewish migration from Germany (27,31) the impact of Nazi propaganda aimed at the Arab world led to (27) and the death of Shaykh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam at the hands of the British police near Jenin in November 1935 (20) the 1936–1939 Arab (20,27) nationalist (65) revolt broke out in Palestine. (20,27) At this time Arab Spokesman George Antonius called Sykes-Picot a “shocking document.” (54) The revolt manifested in a strike and armed insurrection started sporadically, becoming more organized with time. (67) Attacks were mainly directed at British strategic installations such as the Trans Arabian Pipeline (TAP) and railways, and to a lesser extent against Jewish settlements, secluded Jewish neighbourhoods in the mixed cities, and Jews, both individually and in groups. (67) At this time Jews across Europe were being murdered and interned in ghettos by the Nazis. (22,27) Similar rules were applied by the many Nazi allies in Europe. (27) The argument of the early Zionist leaders that the Jews, through their enterprise and skill, would bring the benefits of modernization to the Palestinian Arabs was not accepted by the Arabs. (17) They did not think they needed such help, and they feared the usurpation of their ancestral homeland by foreigners who were supported by the major powers–the United States and the Soviet Union in particular. (17) They stepped up their attacks against the Jews. (8) In 1936, Hans Döhle, the Nazi Germany representative to Mandatory Palestine sent a telegram to Berlin reporting Amin al-Husseini’s belief that Palestinian Muslims were enthusiastic about the new regime and looked forward to the spread of fascism throughout the region. (28) Wolff met al-Husseini and many sheikhs again, a month later, at Nabi Musa. (28) They expressed their approval of the anti-Jewish boycott in Germany and asked Wolff not to send any Jews to Palestine. (28) Wolff subsequently wrote in his annual report for that year that the Arabs’ political naïvety led them to fail to recognize the link between German Jewish policy and their problems in Palestine, and that their enthusiasm for Nazi Germany was devoid of any real understanding of the phenomenon. (28) An Arab general strike (28,29) began on 19th April in Nablus, where an Arab National Committee was formed, and by the end of the month National Committees had been formed in all of the towns and some of the larger villages, including Haifa, Jenin, Tulkarm and Jerusalem. (28) On 21st April the leaders of the five main parties accepted the decision at Nablus and called for a general strike of all Arabs engaged in labour, transport and shopkeeping for the following day. (28) While the strike was initially organised by workers and local committees, religious leaders, influential families and political leaders became involved to help with co-ordination. (28) This led to the formation on 25th April 1936 of (28) the Arab Higher Committee (AHC) (28,67) under the chairmanship of Amin al-Husseini, (28) as the central political organ of the Arab community of Palestine. (67) The Committee resolved “to continue the general strike until the British Government changes its present policy in a fundamental manner”. (28) The demands of the Committee included: (1) the prohibition of Jewish immigration; (2) the prohibition of the transfer of Arab land to Jews; (3) the establishment of a National Government responsible to a representative council. (28) On 15th May 1936, the Committee endorsed the general strike, calling for an end to Jewish immigration and a general non-payment of taxes. (28) The response of the British to the strike was to impose heavy fines on villages and cities. (28) The city-port of Jaffa was especially singled out. (28) Under the guise of urban renewal the British ordered the demolition of hundreds of homes in the city and more than a thousand in neighbouring villages. (28) They conspired with the Zionists to destroy Palestinian leadership in the 1936-39 revolt, thus making it impossible for Palestinians to prepare for the coming war with the Zionists. (63) The US Consulate General knew that there was the Hagganah, the Jewish army. (24) The British also authorised (28) the building of a port in neighbouring Tel Aviv to compete with the strike-bound Port of Jaffa. (28,67) This caused the partial disengagement of the Jewish and Arab economies in Palestine, which were more or less intertwined until that time. (67) Solidarity campaign committees were formed in Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo and Beirut. (28) After six months, the strike was eventually called off (28,29) in November 1936, by the HAC, under the influence of Britain. (28) King Ghazi of Iraq, King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia and Amir Abdullah of Transjordan appealed to the workers to end the strike because as they wrote in Palestinian newspapers, “We rely on the good intentions of our friend Great Britain, who has declared that she will do justice.” (28) During the years that led up to World War II, Chaim Weizmann invested much effort in establishing the Jewish Brigade. (56) Haganah had been, from the British viewpoint, a terrorist organisation that used violence to defend the Jewish Agency. (14) Haganah attacked Palestinian Arabs and aspects of British rule in Palestine. (14) Following an increase in Arab attacks, (8) the British had tried to solve the problem but in the end only managed to make the situation more difficult. (18) Haganah was illegal, but the British didn’t do much about it. (24) During the Arab revolt, Ben-Gurion instigated a policy of restraint (“Havlagah”) in which the Haganah and other Jewish groups did not retaliate for Arab attacks against Jewish civilians, concentrating only on self-defence. (34)

Peel Commission 1936

During the mandate years, Britain had enough power to call the shots alone. (54) But only twenty years after Sykes-Picot, partition again became the solution to solving clashing interests in Palestine. (54) Following the Arab general strike (29) OR ‘revolt’ (32) in Mandatory Palestine, (29) they appointed a royal commission (8,29) headed by Lord Peel (29) in 1936 to investigate the Palestine situation. (8,29) It travelled out to Palestine and undertook a thorough study of the issues. (32) It was formally known as the Palestine Royal Commission. (29) On 11th November 1936, the commission arrived in Palestine to investigate the reasons behind the uprising. (29) The Commission was charged with determining the cause of the riots, and judging the grievances of both sides. (29) Chaim Weizmann made a speech on behalf of the Jews. (29) On 25 November 1936, testifying before the Peel Commission, Weizmann said that there are in Europe 6,000,000 Jews … (29) “for whom the world is divided into places where they cannot live and places where they cannot enter.” (29) The Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, testified in front of the commission, opposing any partition of Arab lands with the Jews. (29) He demanded full cessation of Jewish immigration. (29) Although the Arabs continued to boycott the Commission officially, there was a sense of urgency to respond to Weizmann’s appeal to restore calm. (29) The former Mayor of Jerusalem Ragheb Bey al-Nashashibi—who was the Mufti’s rival in the internal Palestinian arena, was thus sent to explain the Arab perspective through unofficial channels. (29) The commission did not consider the situation of Jews in Europe. (27) The British regretted the Balfour Declaration, and back tracked in the late 30s and 40s. (22,29) On 7th July 1937 (29) the Peel Commission (8,27) gave its conclusions. (8,27) The causes of the Arab rebellion that broke out in the previous year were judged to be first, the desire of the Arabs for national independence; secondly, their antagonism to the establishment of the Jewish National Home in Palestine, quickened by their fear of Jewish domination. (29) Among contributory causes were the effect on Arab opinion of the attainment of national independence by ‘Iraq, Trans-Jordan, Egypt, Syria and the Lebanon; the rush of Jewish immigrants escaping from Central and Eastern Europe; the inequality of opportunity enjoyed by Arabs and Jews respectively in placing their case before Your Majesty’s Government and the public; the growth of Arab mistrust; Arab alarm at the continued purchase of Arab land by the intensive character and the “modernism” of Jewish nationalism; and lastly the general uncertainty, accentuated by the ambiguity of certain phrases in the Mandate, as to the ultimate intentions of the Mandatory Power. (29) OR stated that the League of Nations Mandate had become unworkable (29) and recommended the partition of the country (8,27) into two states, one Arab the other Jewish. (27,31) New provisions and restrictions were applied, including the compulsory transfer of populations. (27) They appeared to make promises to both sides, which they could obviously not keep. (18) The British cabinet endorsed the Partition plan in principle, but requested more information. (29) The Arabs rejected the idea: (8,27) the Arab High Committee opposed the idea of a Jewish state and called for an independent state of Palestine, “with protection of all legitimate Jewish and other minority rights and safeguarding of reasonable British interests”. (29) They also demanded cessation of all Jewish immigration and land purchase. (29) They argued that the creation of a Jewish state and lack of independent Palestine was a betrayal of the word given by Britain. (29)

Violence resumes

The Arabs renewed their revolt (30,67) during the autumn of 1937. (67) Violence continued throughout 1938 and eventually petered out in 1939. (67) The British responded to the violence by greatly expanding their military forces and clamping down on Arab dissent. (67) “Administrative detention” (imprisonment without charges or trial), curfews, and house demolitions were among British practices during this period. (67) More than 120 Arabs were sentenced to death and about 40 hanged. (67) The Zionist leadership was bitterly divided over the plan. (29) In a resolution adopted at the 1937 Zionist Congress, the delegates rejected the specific partition plan, but (29) the Jews accepted the principle of partition. (8,29) OR “it was not rejected outright by any major faction”. (29) The delegates empowered the leadership to pursue future negotiations. (29) The Jewish Agency Council later attached a request that a conference be convened to explore a peaceful settlement in terms of an undivided Palestine. (29) Ben-Gurion and Weizmann saw it ‘as a stepping stone to some further expansion and the eventual takeover of the whole of Palestine.’ (29) Ben-Gurion supported partition, (34) as did Weizmann arguing that “half a loaf was better than none.” (58) Opponents furiously challenged this expedience as pusillanimity and craven submission to British interests. (58) This led to conflict (34,58) with Ze’ev Jabotinsky who opposed partition and as a result Jabotinsky’s supporters split with the Haganah and abandoned Havlagah. (34) Having given away most of the land to the Arabs and unable or unwilling to establish a Jewish National Home. (22) Britain rejected the Commission’s solution, (23,27) secretly voting against partition on 8th December 1937 (30) not because of the Jewish rejection, but (38) because of the ferocity of the Arab opposition to it. (30,38) The main Arab leaders were arrested or expelled. (67) The Haganah (Hebrew for “defense”), a Jewish paramilitary organization, actively supported British efforts to quell the insurgency, which reached 10,000 Arab fighters at their peak during the summer and fall of 1938. (67) Although the British administration did not officially recognize the Haganah, the British security forces cooperated with it by forming the Jewish Settlement Police and Special Night Squads. (67) A terrorist splinter group of the Haganah, called the Irgun (or Etzel) adopted a policy of violent retaliation against Arabs for attacks on Jews. (67) At a meeting in Alexandria in July 1937 between Jabotinsky and Irgun commander Col. Robert Bitker and chief-of-staff Moshe Rosenberg, the need for indiscriminate retaliation due to the difficulty of limiting operations to only the “guilty” was explained. (67) The Irgun launched attacks against public gathering places such as markets and cafes. (67) The vote against partition was kept secret, (30) and following the publication of the Peel Commission Report in 1938 the Woodhead Commission was appointed to examine it in detail and recommend an actual partition plan (29) as if partition was still British policy, but in reality to bury it. (30) OR So Partition has been the basis of a solution from the Peel plan of 1937, to the UN partition plan of 1947, and ever since. (54) In 1937, Chaim Weizmann made his home in Rehovot. (56)

Woodhead Commission 1938 (See Appendix 4)

In January 1938, (32) the Woodhead Commission explored the practicalities of partition, (30,31) although the British government had already decided in January 1938 (23) OR 8th December 1937 (29) to distance themselves from the partition plan. (23) The Commission comprised Sir John Woodhead, a former civil administrator in India; Sir Alison Russell, a lawyer; Percival Waterfield and Thomas Reid, also Indian civil servants. (30) It was charged with examining the Peel Commission plan in detail, in order “to recommend boundaries for the proposed Arab and Jewish areas and the enclaves to be retained permanently or temporarily under British Mandate” and “to examine and report on the economic and financial questions involved in partition upon which decisions will require to be taken.” (30) However, the appointment of the Commission was regarded by the Colonial Office as an instrument to free Britain from its obligation to the partition plan. (30) In accordance with a decision of the British cabinet, Woodhead was secretly advised that it was within the commission’s authority to decide that “no workable scheme could be produced”. (30) Sir George Rendel, head of the Eastern Department of the Foreign Office, did his utmost to ensure that the Commission would reach the “correct conclusion,” by trying to influence the choice of personnel and placing his own memorandum before the Commission as evidence. (30) The Commission spent over three months in Palestine, taking evidence from witnesses in 55 sessions. (30) No Arabs came forward to submit evidence, though king Abdullah of Transjordan wrote to Woodhead giving support for partition as well as receiving the Commission in Amman. (30) The Commission considered three types of partition, (30,31) one of which was based on the Peel plan. (32) It found none of them feasible, because of the facts of the distribution of Jews and Arabs (30,31) particularly if they involved a massive forced transfer of Arabs (an option that the British government had already ruled out). (32) There were also financial questions arising from the greater wealth of the Jews. (30) Despite Britain’s announcement that the plan was impracticable, it suggested that Arab-Jewish agreement might still be possible. (30) With dissent from some of its members, the Commission instead recommended a plan that would leave the Galilee under British mandate, but emphasised serious problems with it that included a lack of financial self-sufficiency of the proposed Arab State. (32) The British Government accompanied the publication of the Woodhead Report by a statement of policy rejecting partition as impracticable due to “political, administrative and financial difficulties”. (32) It proposed a substantially smaller Jewish state, including the coastal plain only. (32)The recommendations were eventually rejected by both Jews and Arabs. (30) Simha Flapan quoted Ben-Gurion as stating in 1938: “I believe in our power, in our power which will grow, and if it will grow agreement will come…” (30) Britain now entered a period of extreme hostility towards Zionism. (22) It said that “it is not part of [Britain’s] policy that Palestine should become a Jewish State” and that “The independent State [of Palestine] should be one in which Arabs and Jews share government in such a way as to ensure that the essential interests of each community are safeguarded.” (13) An international conference (Évian Conference) convened by the United States in July 1938, failed to find any agreement to deal with the rapidly growing number of Jewish refugees. (32) In 1938, 52,000 Jews and 51,000 Muslims and Christians lived in Haifa. (48) Haifa Oil Refinery Haifa’s development owed much to British plans to make it a central port and hub for Middle-East crude oil. (48)

St James Conference Feb 1939

In February, (31,32) 1939 (30,31) the British called another conference on the Partition for Palestine. (31) Despite the British Government’s statement of policy rejecting Partition Plan as impracticable in the light of the Woodhead Commission’s report, this suggested that Arab-Jewish agreement might still be possible. (31) The Palestine Arabs, the neighbouring Arab states and the Jewish Agency were invited (30,31) to confer with the British Government (31) in a third attempt to resolve the crisis. (30,31) This was the St. James Conference (27,30) (also known as the Round Table Conference of 1939). (30) It began on 7th February 1939 at St James’s Palace in London. (31) The conference was led by Malcolm MacDonald, the British colonial secretary. (31) The Arab delegates attended on condition that they would not meet directly with the Jewish representatives, (31,32) which would constitute recognition of Jewish claims over Palestine. (32) The Jewish delegation was headed by Chaim Weizmann and the Arab delegation by followers of the Mufti of Jerusalem. (31) While the Conference was in progress, on 27th February 1939, in response to enthusiastic Arab demonstrations following reports that the British were proposing to allow Palestine independence on the same terms as Iraq, a coordinated Irgun bombing campaign across the country killed 38 Arabs and wounded 44. (32) The meeting adjourned without result on 17th March 1939. (31,32) The British government held separate meetings with the two sides. (32) The British implemented instead the White Paper of 1939 (27,31) two months later. (23,31)

White Paper of 1939

The Arab revolt did not achieve its goals, although it is “credited with signifying the birth of the Arab Palestinian identity”. (67) It is generally credited with forcing the issuance of the White Paper of 1939. (67) The British decided to drastically restrict Jewish immigration to Palestine. (23) In 1939, a year after rejecting the commission’s partition plans, Britain introduced one of its most brutal policies, (22) releasing the White Paper of (13,23) May (23,31) 1939 (13,23) which stated that with over 450,000 Jews having now settled in the mandate, the Balfour Declaration about “a national home for the Jewish people” had been met. (32) OR It renounced Britain’s intent of creating a Jewish National Home in Palestine, (67) saying that the Balfour Declaration had been a ‘mistake’. (23,64) OR that the local population’s views should have been taken into account. (40) The White Paper stated that (32) Palestine would be an independent state within ten years, (23,32) governed jointly by Arabs and Jews:

His Majesty’s Government believe that the framers of the Mandate in which the Balfour Declaration was embodied could not have intended that Palestine should be converted into a Jewish State against the will of the Arab population of the country. His Majesty’s Government therefore now declare unequivocally that it is not part of their policy that Palestine should become a Jewish State. They would indeed regard it as contrary to their obligations to the Arabs under the Mandate, as well as to the assurances which have been given to the Arab people in the past, that the Arab population of Palestine should not be made the subjects of a Jewish State against their will. The objective of His Majesty’s Government is the establishment within 10 years of an independent Palestine State in such treaty relations with the United Kingdom as will provide satisfactorily for the commercial and strategic requirements of both countries in the future. (32)

It sought to accommodate Arab demands regarding Jewish immigration. (13) Jewish immigration to Mandatory Palestine would be limited. (13,22) Palestine should only admit a total of 75,000 Jews, (23,27) with a limit of 10,000 (13,23) OR 15,000 (34) Jewish immigrants per year over a five-year period from 1939 (13,23) to 1944 (13,27) OR 1945 (23) after which Jewish immigration would cease. (17,23) It required Arab consent for further Jewish immigration. (13,32) Previously no restriction had been imposed on the transfer of land from Arabs to Jews. (32) “owing to the natural growth of the Arab population and the steady sale in recent years of Arab land to Jews, there is now in certain areas no room for further transfers of Arab land, whilst in some other areas such transfers of land must be restricted if Arab cultivators are to maintain their existing standard of life and a considerable landless Arab population is not soon to be created. (32) In these circumstances, the High Commissioner will be given general powers to prohibit and regulate transfers of land.” (32) For tactical reasons, the Cabinet’s decision was initially kept secret. (23) OR On 22nd May 1939 the House of Commons debated a motion that the White Paper was inconsistent with the terms of the Mandate. (32) It was defeated by 268 votes to 179. (32) The following day the House of Lords accepted the new policy without a vote. (32) During the debate, Lloyd George called the White Paper an “act of perfidy” while Winston Churchill voted against the government of his party. (32) The Liberal MP James Rothschild stated during the parliamentary debate that “for the majority of the Jews who go to Palestine it is a question of migration or of physical extinction”. (32) Some supporters of the Conservative Government were opposed to the policy on the grounds that it appeared in their view to contradict the Balfour Declaration. (32) Several government MPs either voted against the proposals or abstained, including Cabinet Ministers such as the illustrious Jewish Secretary of State for War Leslie Hore-Belisha. (32) The supervising authority of the League of Nations, the Permanent Mandates Commission abstained unanimously from endorsing the White Paper, though four out of seven members thought the new policy was inconsistent with that mandate. (32) The League of Nations commission rejected the White Paper because it was in conflict with the terms of the Mandate as put forth in the past. (32) The Arab Higher Committee initially argued that the independence of a future Palestine Government would prove to be illusory, as the Jews could prevent its functioning by withholding participation, and in any case real authority would still be in the hands of British officials. (32) The limitations on Jewish immigration were also held to be insufficient, as there was no guarantee immigration would not resume after five years. (32) In place of the policy enunciated in the White Paper, the Arab Higher Committee called for “a complete and final prohibition” of Jewish immigration and a repudiation of the Jewish national home policy altogether. (32) In June 1939, Hajj Amin al-Husayni initially “astonished” the other members of the Arab Higher Committee by turning down the White Paper. (32) Al-Husayni turned the advantageous proposal down for the entirely selfish reason that “it did not place him at the helm of the future Palestinian state.” (32) This development marked a major setback for the Zionist cause. (23) Taking into account the intensifying persecution of the Jews, the White Paper was like a death sentence for many Jews. (23) The British were unabashedly pro-Arab after the White Paper. (64) They faced opposition by Zionist groups in Palestine for their restrictions. (27) The White Paper was seen by the Jewish community as a revocation of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, (13) as indeed it was. (23) Zionist groups in Palestine immediately rejected the White Paper and began a campaign of attacks on government property and Arab civilians which lasted for several months. (32) Chaim Weizmann tried, unsuccessfully, to prevent the issuing of the White Paper, which (56) limited. (13,22) OR in effect halted (36) Jewish immigration to Palestine. (13,56) After this Ben-Gurion changed his policy towards the British, stating: “Peace in Palestine is not the best situation for thwarting the policy of the White Paper”. (34) On 18th May a Jewish general strike was called. (32) The right-wing Zionist militant group Irgun began formulating plans for a rebellion to evict the British and establish an independent Jewish state. (32) Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founder of Irgun, who had been exiled from Palestine by the British, proposed a plan for a revolt to take place in October 1939, which he sent to the Irgun High Command in six coded letters. (32) Under Jabotinsky’s plan, he, together with other “illegals”, would arrive in Palestine by boat, and the Irgun would help him and other passengers escape. (32) Next, the Irgun would raid and occupy Government House, as well as other British centres of power in Palestine, raise the Jewish national flag, and hold them for at least 24 hours even at a heavy cost. (32) Simultaneously, Zionist leaders in Western Europe and the United States would proclaim an independent Jewish state in Palestine, and would function as a government-in-exile. (32) Irgun seriously considered carrying out the plan, but was concerned over the heavy losses it would doubtless incur. (32) Irgun leader Avraham Stern (who would later break from Irgun to form Lehi), formed a plan for 40,000 armed Jewish fighters recruited in Europe to sail to Palestine and join the rebellion. (32) The Polish government supported his plan, and began training Jews and setting aside weaponry for them. (32) On 13th July the British authorities announced the suspension of all Jewish immigration into Palestine until March 1940. (32) The reason given for this decision was the increase in illegal immigrants arriving. (32) During the Zionist Congress held in Geneva in August 1939, Weizmann harshly criticized the British government for its betrayal of the Mandate and the Jewish people. (56) On August 29th, 1939, he wrote to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to confirm previous declarations that “the Jews stand by Great Britain and will fight on the side of the democracies…The Jewish Agency has recently had differences in the political field with the Mandatory Power. (56) We would like these differences to give way before the greater and more pressing necessities of the time.” (56) The outbreak of World War II in September 1939 quickly put an end to further deliberations on the White Paper. (32) So in the end the White Paper, which had been intended to demonstrate the limitations of British support for Zionism, had no effect as it was not enforced. (63)

World War II

Jewish Immigration Quota maintained

With the Second World War a completely new situation arose. (23) Starting in 1939 and throughout the war and the Holocaust, the British reduced the number of Jewish immigrants allowed into Palestine, following the publication of the MacDonald White Paper. (67) Once the 15,000 annual quota was exceeded, Jews fleeing Nazi persecution were placed in detention camps or deported to places such as Mauritius. (67) In March 1940, the British High Commissioner for Palestine issued an edict dividing Palestine into three zones. (32) In Zone A, consisting of about 63 % of the country including the stony hills, land transfers save to a Palestinian Arab were in general forbidden. (32) In Zone B, consisting of about 32 % of the country, transfers from a Palestinian Arab save to another Palestinian Arab were severely restricted at the discretion of the High Commissioner. (32) In the remainder of Palestine, consisting of about 5% of the country-which, however, includes the most fertile areas – land sales remained unrestricted. (32) On 10th June 1940, Italy declared war on the British Commonwealth and sided with Germany. (67) Within a month, the Italians attacked Palestine from the air, bombing Tel Aviv and Haifa. (67) In July 1940, after two weeks of meetings with the British representative S. F. Newcombe, the leader of the Palestinian Arab delegates to the London Conference, Jamal al-Husseini and fellow delegate Musa al-Alami, agreed to the terms of the White Paper and both signed a copy of it in the presence of the Prime Minister of Iraq, Nuri as-Said. (32)

Support for Britain by Arabs and Jews

After the outbreak of the Second World War (23,32) in September 1939, (32) the Jewish population sided with Britain. (67) Ben-Gurion (23,32) head of the social democratic Mapai party and (23) the head of the Jewish Agency (23,32) that was responsible for the Jewish side of immigration to Palestine (23) encouraged the Jewish population to volunteer for the British Army. (23,34) David Ben-Gurion (23,32) declared: ‘We will fight the White Paper as if there is no war, (23,32) and fight (32,67) OR help the English in (23,34) the war as if there is no White Paper.’ (23,32) While this represented the Jewish population as a whole, there were exceptions (see below). (67) About 6,000 Palestinian Arabs and 30,000 Palestinian Jews joined the British forces. (67) In the Second World War, the Jewish community of this country contributed its full share to the struggle of the freedom- and peace-loving nations against the forces of Nazi wickedness and, by the blood of its soldiers and its war effort, gained the right to be reckoned among the peoples who founded the United Nations. (16) OR About 10% of the Jewish population of Palestine volunteered for the British Army, including many women. (34) The British rejected Weizmann’s proposal to train a Jewish Army, (59) OR The British deliberately trained Zionist soldiers during the 1936-39 revolt and World War II. (63) As a result of Weizmann’s unflagging insistence (58) they did train a Jewish battalion (59) OR Brigade Group (58) but that did not come into existence until 1944. (59) Chaim Weizmann and his wife Vera paid a heavy price during the war, when (56) they lost (56,58) their younger (58) son, Michael, a pilot in the Royal Air Force, (56,58) who failed to return from an operational flight over the Bay of Biscay in February (56) 1942. (56,58) Weizmann’s other son Benjamin (56,59) served as an anti-aircraft gunner in England and suffered a breakdown from which he never fully recovered. (56) The Sieff Research Institute under Weizmann’s direction also aided the Allied military effort by providing essential pharmaceuticals, and Weizmann conferred with the United States and British governments on methods of producing synthetic rubber. (58) He was by now “a world-famed chemist”. (59) In the 1940s the left-wing of Mapai broke away to form Mapam. (34)

Anti-British activity by Jews and Arabs

Ben-Gurion believed a peaceful solution with the Arabs had no chance and soon began preparing the Yishuv (Jewish residents) for war. (34) According to Teveth ‘through his campaign to mobilize the Yishuv (Jewish residents) in support of the British war effort, he strove to build the nucleus of a “Hebrew Army”, and his success in this endeavor later brought victory to Zionism in the struggle to establish a Jewish state.’ (34) As in most of the Arab world, there was no unanimity among the Palestinian Arabs as to their position regarding the combatants in World War II. (67) A number of leaders and public figures saw an Axis victory as the likely outcome and a way of securing Palestine back from the Zionists and the British. (67) Despite the pro-Arab policy of the British White Paper, the leading Arab forces – with the exception of the Emir of Transjordan – sympathized with Nazi Germany and its allies. (23) The Palestinian leadership under the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem even aligned itself openly with the Nazi regime, (23,67) a decision that was also directed against British colonial policy. (23) Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, spent the rest of the war in Nazi Germany and the occupied areas. (67) The growth of the Jewish community in Palestine and the devastation of European Jewish life sidelined the World Zionist Organization. (27) The Jewish Agency for Palestine under the leadership of David Ben-Gurion increasingly dictated policy with support from American Zionists who provided funding and influence in Washington, D.C., including via the highly effective American Palestine Committee. (27)

Allies distance themselves from Jews

Hitler’s propaganda machine took every opportunity to paint their Allied opponents as fighting a ‘Jewish war,’ and some took the bait. (9) Prior to Pearl Harbor, for example, the U.S. Senate launched an investigation of pro-war motion pictures and how a ‘Jewish-dominated’ film industry might be dragging America into the war. (9) Allied military and political leaders needed to keep their public consensus that they fought the Nazis in a war against dictatorial evil, not a war to save the Jews. (9) They made a conscious political decision to separate the Jewish issue from war aims. (9) Neither the British nor their American allies were eager to accept the potential flood of Jewish refugees or make any deals with Hitler – not due to any lack of charity, but because of a fear that it might blur their defined war objectives. (9) After the US even forced a Jewish refugee ship – the “St. Louis” – to return to Germany, the Zionists’ executive branch announced that it would intervene at any price to permit the “illegal” admission of Jewish refugees into Palestine. (23)

Soviet support for Zionism

With the German invasion of Russia in 1941, Stalin reversed his long-standing opposition to Zionism, and tried to mobilize worldwide Jewish support for the Soviet war effort. (27) A Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee was set up in Moscow. (27) Many thousands of Jewish refugees fled the Nazis and entered the Soviet Union during the war, where they reinvigorated Jewish religious activities and opened new synagogues. (27) By the time the United States was committed to the war effort, the Nazis increased the persecution of the Jewish population. (9) As the war progressed and the plight of the Jews became more drastic, Germany hoped the Allies would accept refugees. (9) Immigration of Jews into Palestine had risen sharply during the war. (12) In May (12) 1942 (12,27) the Biltmore (27) conference of American Zionists adopted a program, which repudiated the British plan of 1939 for an independent Palestine (12) and instead demanded a Jewish state (12,27) in the Land of Israel (27) and a Jewish army. (12)

Alamein Crisis leads to formation of Palmach

In the Autumn of 1942, there was a period of anxiety for the Jewish Residents, when the forces of German General Erwin Rommel advanced east in North Africa towards the Suez Canal and there was fear that they would conquer Palestine. (67) This period was referred to as the two hundred days of anxiety. (67) This event was the direct cause for the founding, with British support, of the Palmach —a highly trained regular unit belonging to Haganah (which was mostly made up of reserve troops). (67)

The Holocaust becomes known

In December 1942, the extermination of the Jews became public knowledge. (22,32) British Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, famously confirmed in Parliament that the Nazis were exterminating Europe’s Jews. (22) The Nazis even offered deals – Allied concessions in exchange for the lives of Jews. (9) But the Allies considered any such rescues or deals as ‘war damaging’ and potentially walking into a trap set by Hitler. (9) They would not fall into that trap – ‘and that sealed the fate of the Jews.’ (9) ‘So the ‘final solution’ wasn’t a matter of simple racial hatred, but a complex political decision.’ (9) Eden said that Britain could do nothing to thwart the genocide other than winning the war. (22) At that point there were 34,000 immigration certificates remaining. (32) In February 1943, the British government announced that the remaining certificates could be used as soon as practicable to rescue Jewish children from southeastern Europe, particularly Bulgaria. (32) This plan was partly successful but many people who received certificates were not able to emigrate. (32) OR In 1943, at the height of the Holocaust, Eden personally blocked a request from the Bulgarian authorities to allow part of its Jewish population passage to British controlled Palestine. (22) After his refusal these Jews were transported to their deaths in Nazi extermination camps. (22) OR those in Bulgaria survived. (32) In July it was announced that any Jewish refugee who reached a neutral country in transit would be given clearance for Palestine. (32) As the horrors of the Holocaust became known, the Zionist leadership formulated the One Million Plan, a reduction from Ben-Gurion’s previous target of two million immigrants. (27)

British Policy favours Arabs

The British government increasingly found Zionism to be a political burden. (23) In the strategic fight against the ostensible pro-Arab Axis powers Germany and Italy, they now attempted to curry favour with the Arabs. (23) During 1943 about half the remaining certificates were distributed, and by the end of the war there were 3,000 certificates left. (32) While Arab immigration to Palestine swelled, Jewish immigration was at virtual standstill. (22) The country developed economically during the war, with increased industrial and agricultural outputs and the period was considered an `economic Boom’. (67) In terms of Arab-Jewish relations, these were relatively quiet times. (67) With no restrictions on Arab immigration, large numbers of them arrived, attracted by the economic opportunities that Zionist and British investment created. (22) In contrast, Jewish immigration was miniscule and those that attempted entry were locked in detention centres. (22)

British Jewish Brigade

On 3rd July, 1944, the British government consented to the establishment of a Jewish Brigade with hand-picked Jewish and also non-Jewish senior officers. (67) In 1944 Menachem Begin assumed the Irgun’s leadership, determined to force the British government to remove its troops entirely from Palestine. (67) Citing that the British had reneged on their original promise of the Balfour Declaration, and that the White Paper of 1939 restricting Jewish immigration was an escalation of their pro-Arab policy, he decided to break with the Haganah. (67) Soon after he assumed command, a formal ‘Declaration of Revolt’ was publicized, and armed attacks against British forces were initiated. (67) Lehi, another splinter group, opposed cessation of operations against the British authorities all along. (67) The Jewish Agency, which opposed those actions and the challenge to its role as government in preparation responded with “The Hunting Season”—severe actions against supporters of the Irgun and Lehi, including turning them over to the British. (67) The USSR regarded the later exodus of Jews from the USSR as a damaging brain drain that would affect the socialist nation. (45) For Soviet foreign policy decision-makers, pragmatism took precedence over ideology. (45) Without changing its official anti-Zionist stance, from late 1944, until 1948 and even later, Joseph Stalin adopted a pro-Zionist foreign policy, apparently believing that the new country would be socialist and would accelerate the decline of British influence in the Middle East. (45) In 1944–45, Ben-Gurion described the One Million Plan to foreign officials as being the “primary goal and top priority of the Zionist movement.” (27) The immigration restrictions of the British White Paper of 1939 meant that such a plan could not be put into large scale effect until the Israeli Declaration of Independence in May 1948. (27) The Jewish brigade fought in Europe, most notably against the Germans in Italy from March 1945 until the end of the war in May 1945. (67) Members of the Brigade played a key role in the Berihah’s efforts to help Jews escape Europe for Palestine. (67) After the Nazi Holocaust, pressure grew for the international recognition of a Jewish state in Palestine, (65) but no Jewish mission was invited to the United Nations Conference in 1945. (59)

Post World War II

The British

In the years following World War II, Britain’s control over Palestine became increasingly tenuous. (67) The British believed that Jewish support was guaranteed or unimportant. (32) However they feared that the Arab world might turn against them. (32) This geopolitical consideration was, in Raul Hilberg’s word, “decisive” to British policies. (32) Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia were independent and allied with Britain. (32)

The Arabs and Jews

After World War II, (1,8) Both Jews and Arabs maintained military organisations in the holy land, in a state of uneasy truce. (12) War was forced on the Yishuv (Jewish national community) by the Arabs. (64) By 1945 the population of Haifa had shifted to 33% Muslim, 20% Christian and 47% Jewish. (48) The complete story of the Holocaust began to reach a mass audience. (9) The discovery of the Holocaust created great sympathy for the Jews. (18,27) It united much of the rest of world Jewry behind the Zionist project. (27)

American Policy Under Roosevelt

The two new superpowers, the USA and the Soviet Union, now increasingly demanded a change in British Palestine policy. (23) US President Franklin D Roosevelt met with King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia. (27) Ibn Saud pointed out that it was Germany who had committed crimes against the Jews and so Germany should be punished. (27) Palestinian Arabs had done no harm to European Jews and did not deserve to be punished by losing their land. (27) Roosevelt assured the Arabs in 1945 that the United States would not intervene without consulting both the Jews and the Arabs in that region. (10) Roosevelt on return to the US concluded that Israel ‘could only be established and maintained by force’, and that it would have to be a ‘land for Jews only’. (27) In 1945, (27) only a few months after the Nazi death camps of Europe had been liberated and before the UN had put forward its proposal to partition Palestine. (22)

American Policy under Truman

On 12th April 1945 Truman became President. (Wikipedia) He soon appointed experts to study the Palestinian issue. (10) President Truman said that while he supported Jewish immigration to Palestine, he did not support a Jewish state. (22) He favoured a bi-national state. (22) Truman was recorded suggesting that “the government of Palestine should be a government of the people of Palestine irrespective of race, creed or colour”. (22) On August 13th 1945 the world Zionist Congress demanded that Palestine be opened to a million Jews. (12) On August the 31st President Truman requested the immediate admission of 100,000 Jewish displaced persons from Europe, (12) heavily supporting Jewish immigration there. (1,12) James F. Byrnes, the United States Secretary of State, said that they wanted Jews to go to Palestine “to avoid too many of them coming to New York.” (33) On October 20th 1945, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon warned the United States that creation of a Jewish state in Palestine would lead to war. (12)

Other international perspectives

In 1946, Ben-Gurion and North Vietnam’s Politburo chairman Ho Chi Minh became very friendly when they stayed at the same hotel in Paris. (34) Ho Chi Minh offered Ben-Gurion a Jewish home-in-exile in Vietnam. (34) Ben-Gurion declined, telling Ho Chi Minh: “I am certain we shall be able to establish a Jewish Government in Palestine.” (34) Many western countries wanted to create a homeland where they could settle and feel safe. (18,27) The world began to perceive the Holocaust as something universal – a crime against the entire world, rather than one people. (9) Nevertheless, the political plight of the Jewish people had not diminished. (9) They were stateless, powerless: pawns in the struggle between nations. (9) Having no country of their own, they were unable to assert their political self-interest or self-defense. (9) Instead, they were forced to rely on others to act on their behalf. (9)

Policy of the British Labour Government

Shortly after VE Day, on 26th July 1945, the Labour Party won the general election in Britain. (21) Labour Party conferences had for years called for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, (21) and did so again at the end of World War II, voting to rescind the White Paper and establish a Jewish state in Palestine. (32) The British Empire was severely weakened (5,21) by the war. (21) The stated British objectives towards Palestine included a peaceful settlement of the situation and the avoidance of involuntary population transfers. (33) At times Britain went to great lengths to prevent a sovereign Jewish state. (22) Britain reneged on the San Remo agreement. (22) Britain wanted to preserve good relations with the Arabs to protect its vital political and economic interests in Palestine. (10) The war had made Britain conscious of its dependence on Arab oil. (21) British firms controlled Iraqi oil and Britain ruled Kuwait, Bahrain and the Emirates. (21) The British Mandate began to fall apart. (20) Labour had little alternative but to yield to American pressure over Palestine policy. (33) because Britain was dependent on the financial support of the United States (23,33) The U.S.Congress was delaying a loan necessary to prevent British bankruptcy, because Britain was refusing to fulfil a promise given to Truman (67) in Saptember 1945 (12) that 100,000 Holocaust survivors would be allowed to emigrate to Palestine. (33,67) Bevin gave offence by saying that American pressure to admit Jews was being applied because “They did not want too many Jews in New York.” (33) Britain subsequently received a large American loan in 1946 and the Marshall Plan began in mid-1947. (33) Therefore the Labour government (21,23) in the person of its Foreign Minister, Ernest Bevin, (32) motivated by colonial politics, oil, (23) and anti-Semitism, (33) now decided to maintain the 1939 White Paper policies. (21,23) Bevin lacked diplomatic finesse, and tended to make a bad situation worse by making ill-chosen abrasive remarks. (33) Bevin was undeniably a plain-spoken man, some of whose remarks struck many as insensitive. (33) Politically, he was on the right-wing of the Labour Party, strongly opposed to communism and direct action—allegedly partly due to anti-Semitic paranoia and seeing communism as a “Jewish plot” against Britain. (33) For refusing to remove limits on Jewish immigration to Palestine in the aftermath of the war, Bevin earned the hatred of Zionists. (33) According to historian Howard Sachar, his political foe, Richard Crossman, a fellow Labour Party member of parliament and a pro-Zionist member of the post-war Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry into the Problems of European Jewry and Palestine, characterised his outlook during the dying days of the Mandate as “corresponding roughly with The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, a Tsarist fabrication written to inflame anti-Semitic prejudice. (33) In Sachar’s account, Crossman intimated that “the main points of Bevin’s discourse were … that the Jews had successfully organised a conspiracy against Britain and against him personally.” (32) Bevin’s biographer Alan Bullock rejected suggestions that Bevin was motivated by personal anti-Semitism. (33)

British Restrict Jewish Immigration to Palestine

Following the end of the war, (27,32) the British persisted in their immigration restrictions (8,22) They opposed both the creation of a Jewish state and an Arab state in Palestine as well as unlimited immigration of Jewish refugees to the region. (10) They continued the theoretical limit on Jewish immigration to 10,000 per year, (13,23) and maintained it until the British departed Palestine in May 1948. (32) The British continued their pro-Arab policy (23) closing the country even for the so-called “displaced persons” – survivors of the Shoah who were stranded in Germany. (23) Britain went to huge lengths to prevent Jews from settling in their ancestral homeland, while opening the gates to unfettered Arab migrants. (22) Illegal immigrants detained by the British Government were interned in camps on Cyprus, (27,32) or sent to the British-controlled Allied Occupation Zones in Germany. (27) The immigrants had no citizenship and could not be returned to any country. (32) Those interned included a large number of children and orphans. (32) Those held were mainly Holocaust survivors, including large numbers of children and orphans. (21) World public opinion turned against Britain as a result of the British policy of preventing Holocaust survivors from reaching Palestine, (23,67) In response to Cypriot fears that the Jews would never leave (since they lacked a state or documentation). (21) Jewish survivors of the Holocaust were violently turned away from the shores of Palestine. (8) OR because the 75,000 quota established by the 1939 White Paper had never been filled, the British allowed the refugees to enter Palestine at a rate of 750 per month. (21) Hundreds died and 53,000 refugees were held captive. (22)

Jewish immigration in defiance of British

A result of the Holocaust, Jews continued to immigrate illegally. (7,13) The Zionists intensified their efforts to smuggle refugees into Palestine. (23,34) Ben-Gurion assisted the illegal immigration of thousands of European Jewish refugees to Palestine during a period when the British placed heavy restrictions on Jewish immigration. (34) Across Europe Bricha (“flight”), an organization of former partisans and ghetto fighters, smuggled Holocaust survivors from Eastern Europe to Mediterranean ports: (21) a massive wave of stateless Jews, mainly Holocaust survivors, began migrating to Palestine (27,32) in small boats (21,32) in defiance of British rules. (27,32) On 15th July (48) some Buchenwald survivors arriving in Haifa were arrested by the British. (21,48) After 15th July 1945 Illegal migration (Aliyah Bet) became the main form of Jewish entry into Palestine. (21) Despite British efforts to curb immigration, during the 14 years of the Aliyah Bet, over 110,000 Jews entered Palestine. (21) By this time, the population of the territory had been transformed: only 68% were Arabs and 32% % (20) OR 33% (21) were Jews (about two-thirds of whom were born abroad). (20) In Poland, the Kielce Pogrom of July 1946 led to a further wave of Holocaust survivors fleeing Europe for Palestine. (21) Between 1945 and 1948, 100,000–120,000 Jews left Poland. (21) Their departure was largely organized by Zionist activists in Poland under the umbrella of the semi-clandestine organization Berihah (“Flight”). (21) Berihah was also responsible for the organized emigration of Jews from Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, totalling 250,000 (including Poland) Holocaust survivors. (21) From October 1946, under the ‘severest pressure’ from the USA, the British government relented and allowed 1,500 Jewish migrants a month into Palestine. (32) The gesture was in deference to the recommendations of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry. (32) Half of those admitted came from the prison camps for illegal immigrants in Cyprus due to fears that a growing Jewish presence in Cyprus would lead to an uprising there. (32)

Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry January 1946

An Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry on Palestine was created: (25,59) it was set up to examine the political, economic and social conditions in Palestine as they bore upon the problem of Jewish immigration and settlement and the well-being of the peoples living there. (27) Henry F. Grady, who has been called “America’s top diplomatic soldier for a critical period of the Cold War,” headed it. (25) It was tasked with coming up with a solution for Palestine (25) and Dr. Weizmann again had an opportunity to make an official plea for a Jewish home and unrestricted immigration. (59) The Commission had to consult representatives of Arabs and Jews, and to make other recommendations ‘as necessary’ for ad interim handling of these problems as well as for their eventual solution. (27) The Zionist immigration and buyout project had increased the Jewish population of Palestine to 30 % and land ownership from 1 % to approximately 6 %. (25) The problem was that there were hundreds of thousands of Arabs living in Palestine and they naturally believed that the land was theirs by right. (18) The League of Nations was formally terminated in April 1946. (11) On April 29th, (12) 1946 the Anglo American committee of enquiry (12,59) advised against the partition of Palestine (12) OR we were behind the partitioning, (24) and instead recommended an independent state with local and provincial autonomy. (12) This proposal satisfied neither side. (12)

Immigration by Jews from Arab areas

Meanwhile, Jews from Arab countries began moving into Palestine overland. (13,21) A large population of Jews living in Arab nations (close to 800,000) left or were expelled from their homes in what has become known as the Modern Jewish Exodus and subsequently resettled in the new State of Israel. (13)

Armed Jewish opposition the British rule

The British refusal to allow Jews to come to Israel provoked a strong reaction and Zionist paramilitary groups began using force (22,23) to try and change British immigration policy. (22) The main underground Jewish militia, the Haganah, formed an alliance called the Jewish Resistance Movement with the Etzel (21) and Lehi, commonly known as the (33) Stern Gang to fight the British. (21,33) Bevin was infuriated by attacks on British troops carried out by the more extreme of the Jewish militant groups, the Irgun (33) and Stern Gang. (21,33) The Haganah carried out less direct attacks, until the King David Hotel bombing, after which it restricted itself to illegal immigration activities. (33) Zionist antagonists revived allegations of Chaim Weizmann’s pro-British prejudice after he had denounced (1945) on moral grounds this violent campaign waged by Jewish dissident groups. (58) He again lost the world Zionist presidency (1946) and never returned to the official leadership. (58)

British create Transjordan, May 25th 1946

The land west of the Jordan River was under direct British administration until 1948, while the land east of the Jordan was a semi-autonomous region known as Transjordan Emirate, under the rule of the Hashemite family from the Hijaz, (65) The French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon ended in 1946. (49) In March 1946, (13) instead of creating a Jewish State (22) the British gave away the vast majority of Mandatory Palestine to the Arabs, creating (13, 22) the Emirate of (22) Transjordan, (13,22) and concluded a close alliance with the new state. (13) It gained independence (13,64) on May 25th (13) 1946 (13,64) when the kingdom of Transjordan was proclaimed, with Emir Abdullah as King. (13) Its admission to the UN was vetoed by the USSR. (13) Since a founding principle of the UN was “self-determination of peoples,” one would have expected to the UN to support fair, democratic elections in which inhabitants could create their own independent country, (25) but a specific UN resolution was passed preserving the rights of the Jewish people in Palestine (and in Jerusalem particularly). (11) The United Nations, as the successor organization to the League of Nations, adopted Article 80 of the UN Charter, which negated efforts “to alter in any manner … the terms of existing international instruments” at the time of the UN’s creation. (11) The Mandate under the League became one under the United Nations. (11) Its commitment to a homeland for the Jewish people was built into the framework of international law at the United Nations. (11)

Night of the Bridges, June 17th 1946

The Night of the Bridges (formally Operation Markolet) was a Haganah venture on the night of 16th – 17th June 1946 in the British Mandate of Palestine, as part of the Jewish insurgency in Palestine (1944–7). Its aim was to destroy eleven bridges linking Mandatory Palestine to the neighbouring countries Lebanon, Syria, Transjordan and Egypt, in order to suspend the transportation routes used by the British Army. (38) Attacks on a further three bridges had been considered, but were not executed. (38) The Haganah started the preparations in January–February 1946. (39) First, the SHAI (Haganah Intelligence Service), Palmach patrols and forces scheduled to carry out the operation began spotting, photographing and measuring the targets but also exploring possible access and escape paths. (39) They were disguised as lovers enjoying nature or as geography excursions. (39) Originally, the operation should have taken place in May 1947, but due to political reasons it was postponed. (39) The planners knew that the operation could not cause heavy damage, and that it would only take some weeks for the connections to be restored. (39) The real targets were: demonstration of the ability of the Haganah to operate throughout the country, even in deserted areas or at the centre of the Arab population demonstration of the ability to sabotage the British army’s operation demonstration of the ability of the Haganah to discourage neighbouring armies from future involvement harming the British army’s prestige as the most powerful force in the Middle East and damaging the legitimacy of the British Mandate strengthening and encouraging the Jewish population in Palestine, and showing the Haganah as being as active as the Irgun and Lehi groups. (39) The objectives were fully accomplished. (39) The Haganah could hit strategic targets at the same time. (39) As a precaution, the Syrian, Lebanese and Trans-Jordanian armies were put on standby, and the borders were tightened. (39) The British Mandate lost a lot of its prestige and suffered a damage of 250,000 pound sterling. (39)

Black Sabbath June 29th 1946

On Saturday, (37) June (21,37) 29th (37) 1946 (21,37) following instances of Jewish sabotage, (37) and the acquisition of documentary evidence of Jewish Agency involvement in paramilitary acts and collusion between the Haganah and the more violent groups, Irgun and Lehi, 12 days after the attack on the Bridges, the British authorities retaliated by imposing a curfew on Jewish communities and (39) the British launched Operation Agatha, arresting 2700 (21,37) OR 3,000 (39) Jews, (21, 37) among them future Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett (37) and the senior leadership of the Haganah. (39) Those arrested were held without trial. (21) The main goal of the attack was to suppress the state of anarchy in Palestine by capturing the most militant Zionists. (39) It is sometimes called Black Sabbath or Black Saturday because it began on the Jewish Sabbath, and was a police and military operation conducted by the British authorities in Mandatory Palestine. (37) Soldiers and police searched for arms and made arrests in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa, and in several dozen settlements; (37) the Jewish Agency was raided. (21,37) Low flying planes circled Jerusalem. (37) Roadblocks were maintained, trains were flagged down, and passengers were evacuated and escorted home. (37) Special licenses were required for the operations of emergency vehicles. (37) Curfews were imposed. (37) Searches uncovered 15 arms caches, including one of the Haganah’s three central arsenals at Kibbutz Yagur, where more than 300 rifles, some 100 2-inch mortars, more than 400,000 bullets, some 5,000 grenades and 78 revolvers were confiscated. (37) The arms were displayed at a press conference, and all the men of Yagur were arrested. (37) The total number of British security forces involved is variously reported as 10,000, 17,000, (37) 20,000 (39) and 25,000. (37) Despite the involvement of British troops and the arrest of Jews, no major damage was done to the Haganah. (39) During that surprise action, more than 2,700 Jews were arrested. (39) The officially given purpose of the operation was to end “the state of anarchy” then existing in Palestine. (37) Other objectives included obtaining documentary proof of Jewish Agency approval of sabotage operations by the Palmach and of an alliance between the Haganah and the more violent Lehi (Stern Gang) and Irgun, destroying the Haganah’s military power, boosting army morale and preventing a coup d’état being mounted by the Lehi and Irgun. (37) The British Army had, for months, wanted to take military action against the Zionist underground organizations, but had been blocked by High Commissioner Alan Cunningham, who was also particularly opposed to military action being taken against the Jewish Agency. (37) Cunningham changed his mind after the “Night of the Bridges” and flew to London to meet the British Cabinet and army chief Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery in London. (37) Montgomery formulated the plan for Operation Agatha. (37) With reluctance, Cunningham accepted it, hoping that, with the more militant Zionists restrained, the way would be opened to reaching a political settlement with the more moderate (and pro-British) leaders such as Chaim Weizmann. (37) During the operation, in a radio broadcast, Cunningham said: “[The arrests] are not directed against the Jewish community as a whole but solely against those few who are taking an active part in the present campaign of violence and those who are responsible for instigating and directing it…” Chief of the Secretariat, Sir John Shaw, outlined the official objective of the operation at a press conference in Jerusalem: “Large-scale operations have been authorized in an effort to end the state of anarchy existing in Palestine and to enable law-abiding citizens to pursue their normal occupations without fear of kidnapping, murder, or being blown-up.” (37) Shaw, believing that the British should end the existing situation by either partitioning Palestine into Jewish and Arab states and then leaving or dismantle the Jewish Agency, which claimed administrative authority yet secretly supported acts by the underground Zionist military organizations, and governing without it, approved of the operation. (37) Underlying the official objective were a number of others. (37) One was to obtain documentary proof of the Jewish Agency’s approval of sabotage operations by the Palmach and of an alliance between the Haganah and the more violent Lehi (Stern Gang) and Irgun in carrying out violent acts. (37) Another was to forestall a coup d’etat. (37) According to declassified British intelligence files, the Irgun and Lehi plotted to assassinate Bevin himself in 1946. (33) In June, members of the Jewish Agency’s Executive and the Haganah High Command had met with delegates of the Irgun and Lehi at which the latter, according to intelligence, had stated their intention of asking the Yishuv (Jewish residents) to participate in a coup “for the proclamation of a future Jewish State and the interruption of all relations with the existing Palestine Administration. (37) ” Another, in the wake of the “Night of the Bridges”, was to break the military power of the Haganah. (37) As the Haganah had appeared to be acting in collusion with the Lehi and Irgun, the British authorities believed, mistakenly, that this was also necessary because the Haganah might co-operate with the prospective Irgun and Lehi coup. (37) Lastly, Montgomery had stated that the operation was necessary in order to boost army morale. (37) The British operations were extensive. (37) Agatha triggered echoes of the Holocaust in the minds of many people. (37) Women ripped their clothing to expose concentration camp tattoos. (37) There were incidents of people in the settlements herded into cages while screaming that this was what the Nazis did. (37) A minority among the British troops exacerbated the situation by shouting “Heil Hitler,” scrawling swastikas on walls, and referring to gas chambers while conducting searches. (37) After Agatha ended, the kidnapped British officers were released, and High Commissioner Alan Cunningham commuted the Irgun members’ death sentences to life imprisonment. (37) The Haganah and Palmach were dissuaded from continued anti-British operations. (37) However, the more extreme groups, the Lehi (Stern Gang) and the Irgun Tzvai Leumi, headed by future Prime Minister Menachem Begin, continued and even intensified their attacks. (37) Operation Agatha led to the formation of the Jewish Resistance Movement, one of whose acts was the King David Hotel bombing on 22nd July 1946. (39) Three Jews smuggling arms into Israel (for defense against Arab attacks) were sentenced to death by the British. (22) In retaliation, the Irgun kidnapped two British sergeants and warned if the Jews were executed the British soldiers would meet the same fate. (22) The three Jews were executed on 29th July, 1946, and two days later the bodies of the soldiers were discovered hanged their bodies booby-trapped. (22) This provoked a wave of anti-Jewish rioting throughout Britain and one London synagogue was burned to the ground. (22)

American Policy 2

In 1946 Truman proposed an Arab/Jewish bi-national federation, (22) but in May of that year he announced his approval of a recommendation to admit 100,000 displaced persons into Palestine. (10) In the summer of 1946, Truman established a special cabinet committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Henry F. Grady, an Assistant Secretary of State, who entered into negotiations with a parallel British committee to discuss the future of Palestine. (10)

London Conference, September 1946

Between September and December, 1946, there was a conference in London about Palestine, which was boycotted by the Zionists: at it the Arab States proposed an Arab dominated Palestinian state. (12) A Zionist Congress at Basel on the other hand, called for a Jewish state. (12) Both Jews and Arabs favoured the withdrawal of Britain from the Palestine mandate. (12) At the reconvened London Conference in January 1947, the Jewish negotiators were only prepared to accept partition and the Arab negotiators only a unitary state (which would automatically have had an Arab majority). (33) Neither would accept limited autonomy under British rule. (33) When no agreement could be reached, Bevin threatened to hand the problem over to the United Nations. (33) The threat failed to move either side, the Jewish representatives because they believed that Bevin was bluffing and the Arabs because they believed that their cause would prevail before the General Assembly. (33) Bevin accordingly announced that he would “ask the UN to take the Palestine question into consideration.” (33) A week later, the strategic logic of Britain retaining a presence in Palestine was removed when the intention to withdraw from India in August of that year was announced. (33)

Religion and Zionism

Though supportive of Zionism, David also described himself as an irreligious person who developed atheism in his youth and who demonstrated no great sympathy for the elements of traditional Judaism, though he quoted the Bible extensively in his speeches and writings. (34) Modern Orthodox philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz considered Ben-Gurion “to have hated Judaism more than any other man he had met”. (34) In September 1947 Ben-Gurion decided to reach a status quo formal agreement with the Orthodox Agudat Yisrael party. (34) He sent a letter to Agudat Yisrael stating that while being committed to establishing a non-theocratic state with freedom of religion, he promised that the Shabbat would be Israel’s official day of rest, that in state-provided kitchens there would be access to Kosher food, that every effort would be made to provide a single jurisdiction for Jewish family affairs, and that each sector would be granted autonomy in the sphere of education, provided minimum standards regarding the curriculum be observed. (34) To a large extent this letter (or agreement) provided the framework for religious affairs in Israel till the present day, and is often used as a benchmark regarding the arrangement of religious affairs in Israel. (34)

American Policy 3

In October 1946, Truman publicly declared his support for the creation of a Jewish state. (10) OR he didn’t give up the idea of a combined Arab Jewish State until 1947. (22) In January 1947, Transjordan allied with Turkey. (13) A CIA report stressed the strategic importance of the Middle East and its oil resources. (25) Similarly, George F. Kennan, the State Department’s Director of Policy Planning, issued a top-secret document on January 19, 1947 that outlined the enormous damage done to the US by the partition plan (“Report by the Policy Planning Staff on Position of the United States with Respect to Palestine”). (25) Kennan cautioned that “important U.S. oil concessions and air base rights” could be lost through US support for partition and warned that the USSR stood to gain by the partition plan. (25) Kermit Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt’s nephew and a legendary intelligence agent, was another who was deeply disturbed by events, noting: “The process by which Zionist Jews have been able to promote American support for the partition of Palestine demonstrates the vital need of a foreign policy based on national rather than partisan interests… (25) Only when the national interests of the United States, in their highest terms, take precedence over all other considerations, can a logical, far-seeing foreign policy be evolved. (25) No American political leader has the right to compromise American interests to gain partisan votes…” He went on: “The present course of world crisis will increasingly force upon Americans the realization that their national interests and those of the proposed Jewish state in Palestine are going to conflict. (25) It is to be hoped that American Zionists and non-Zionists alike will come to grips with the realities of the problem.” The head of the State Department’s Division of Near Eastern Affairs, Gordon P. Merriam, warned against the partition plan on moral grounds: “U.S. support for partition of Palestine as a solution to that problem can be justified only on the basis of Arab and Jewish consent. (25) Otherwise we should violate the principle of self-determination which has been written into the Atlantic Charter, the declaration of the United Nations, and the United Nations Charter–a principle that is deeply embedded in our foreign policy. (25) Even a United Nations determination in favour of partition would be, in the absence of such consent, a stultification and violation of UN’s own charter.” Merriam added that without consent, “bloodshed and chaos” would follow, a tragically accurate prediction. (25) An internal State Department memorandum accurately predicted how Israel would be born through armed aggression masked as defence: “…the Jews will be the actual aggressors against the Arabs. (25) However, the Jews will claim that they are merely defending the boundaries of a state which were traced by the UN…In the event of such Arab outside aid the Jews will come running to the Security Council with the claim that their state is the object of armed aggression and will use every means to obscure the fact that it is their own armed aggression against the Arabs inside which is the cause of Arab counter-attack.” And American Vice Consul William J. Porter foresaw another outcome of the partition plan: that no Arab State would actually ever come to be in Palestine. (25) In 1947 President Truman asked Americans not to support Zionist underground organisations, and then went on to ban arms sales to Palestine. (22) By February 1947, Great Britain was a declining empire. (5) The British could not reconcile the conflicting principles, (4) or control (7) the violence. (7,8) On Feb 7th 1947, a final British proposal for the division of Palestine into Arab and Jewish zones, and its administration as a trusteeship was rejected by Arabs and Jews. (12) Continued violence, the heavy cost of World War II (13) and a new flood of Jewish immigration (1) caused a crisis. (13) As the violence spiraled out of control Britain was unable to contain the chaos (22,23) they’d created. (22) In the US, Congress criticized British handling of the situation and delayed loans that were vital to British post-war recovery. (21) Only at this point did the British begin to yield, they were, in fact, gradually losing control of their confused relations to the independence seeking Jews and Arabs. (23) In April 1947, the Soviet UN Ambassador Andrei Gromyko (1909–1989) also gave a fiery speech that appeared to express sympathy for Zionism. (23) At some date after April 1947 Grady wrote about the Zionist lobby and its damaging effect on US national interests. (25) Grady argued that without Zionist pressure, the U.S. would not have had “the ill-will with the Arab states, which are of such strategic importance in our ‘cold war’2 with the soviets.” (25) He also described the decisive power of the lobby: “I have had a good deal of experience with lobbies but this group started where those of my experience had ended….. (25) I have headed a number of government missions but in no other have I ever experienced so much disloyalty”…… (25) “in the United States, since there is no political force to counterbalance Zionism, its campaigns are apt to be decisive.” (25) Former Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson also opposed Zionism. (25) Acheson’s biographer writes that Acheson “worried that the West would pay a high price for Israel.” (25) Another Author, John Mulhall, records Acheson’s warning: “…to transform [Palestine] into a Jewish State capable of receiving a million or more immigrants would vastly exacerbate the political problem and imperil not only American but all Western interests in the Near East.” (25) Secretary of Defense James Forrestal also tried, unsuccessfully, to oppose the Zionists. (25) He was outraged that Truman’s Mideast policy was based on what he called “squalid political purposes,” asserting that “United States policy should be based on United States national interests and not on domestic political considerations.” (25) Forrestal represented the general Pentagon view when he said that “no group in this country should be permitted to influence our policy to the point where it could endanger our national security.” (25) A report by the National Security Council warned that the Palestine turmoil was acutely endangering the security of the United States. (25)

The Bombing of the King David Hotel

The Irgun retaliated for Operation Agatha by bombing the King David Hotel, which was the headquarters of the British government in Palestine. (37) In 1946, Ben-Gurion agreed that the Haganah could cooperate with Menachem Begin’s Irgun in fighting the British, who continued to restrict Jewish immigration. (34) The luxurious seven-storey King David Hotel, with 200 rooms, was opened to the public in 1931. (36) In 1938, the Mandatory government requisitioned the entire southern wing of the hotel, and housed the military command and the Mandatory government secretariat there. (36) The British chose the King David for its central location and because it was easy to guard. (36) They built a military communications centre in the hotel basement and, for security reasons, added a side entrance linking the building to an army camp south of the hotel. (36) Fewer than a third of the rooms were reserved for civilian use. (36) It will be recalled that after Black Sabbath (Saturday), Menahem Begin received a letter from Moshe Sneh (chief of the Haganah General Headquarters) with instructions to blow up the King David. (36) Ben-Gurion initially agreed to Begin’s plan to carry out the 1946 King David Hotel bombing, with the intent of embarrassing (rather than killing) the British military stationed there. (34) However, when the risks of mass killing became apparent, Ben-Gurion told Begin to call the operation off. (34) Begin refused. (34) Underground cells of Jews, (8) most notably the Irgun (8,22) and Lehi, engaged in open warfare against the British and their installations. (8) On July (12,21) 22nd, (12) 1946, (12,21) illegal Zionist activities reached a climax. (12) After preparatory work and several postponements, Irgun fighters gathered at 7 am. on Monday, July 22, 1946 at the Bet Aharon Talmud Torah seminary in Jerusalem. (36) They arrived one by one, gave the password and assembled in one of the classrooms. (36) They realized that they were being sent on a mission, but none of them knew what the target was. (36) Shortly afterwards, the senior command arrived and it was only when the briefing began that the assembled fighters discovered that they were going to strike at the King David Hotel. (36) After the weapons had been distributed, the first unit – the group of “porters” – commanded by Yosef Avni, set out. (36) Their assignment was to reach the hotel by bus and to wait at the side entrance so as to assist in unloading the explosives from the van when it arrived. (36) All six “porters” were disguised as Arabs so as to avoid arousing suspicion. (36) The strike force left next in a van loaded with seven milk-churns, each containing 50 kilograms of explosives and special detonators. (36) The commander of the operation, Yisrael Levi (Gidon), rode in the van dressed as a Sudanese waiter, while his deputy, Heinrich Reinhold (Yanai), and the other members of the unit, were dressed as Arabs. (36) The van drove through the streets of Jerusalem, its tarpaulin cover concealing the milk-churns and the passengers, and halted at the side entrance of the hotel, through which foodstuffs were brought into the basement ‘La Regence’ restaurant. (36) The fighters easily overcame the guards by the gate and hastened to the basement, where they searched all the rooms, and assembled the workers in the restaurant kitchen. (36) They then returned to the van, brought the milk-churns into the restaurant, and placed them beside the supporting pillars . (36) Gidon set the time fuses for 30 minutes, and ordered his men to leave. (36) The staff gathered in the kitchen were told to leave the building 10 minutes later to avoid injury. (36) During the withdrawal from the basement, heavy gunfire was levelled at the group and two fighters were injured. (36) One of them, Aharon Abramovitch, later died of his wounds. (36) After exiting the hotel, Gidon summoned two women fighters who were waiting nearby, and ordered them to carry out their mission. (36) They ran over to a nearby telephone booth, and delivered the following message to the hotel telephone operator and to the editorial office of the Palestine Post: I am speaking on behalf of the Hebrew underground. (36) We have placed an explosive device in the hotel. (36) Evacuate it at once – you have been warned. (36) They also delivered a telephone warning to the French Consulate, adjacent to the hotel, to open their windows to prevent blast damage. (36) The telephone messages were intended to prevent casualties. (36) Several (22) warning calls were placed but ignored by the British. (22,36) Some 25 minutes after the telephone calls, (36) the South wing of the (37) British (12,21) Military (21,22) headquarters in the King David hotel in Jerusalem was blown up. (12,21) by Etzel (21) OR Irgun (22) A shattering explosion shook Jerusalem, and reverberated at a great distance. (36) The entire southern wing of the King David Hotel – all seven storeys – was totally destroyed (36,37) because that was the location where it was presumed that the British had taken the documents from the Jewish Agency on Black Sabbath. (37,39) For reasons unclear, the staff of the government secretariat and the military command remained in their rooms. (36) Some of them were unaware of events, and others were not permitted to leave the building, thus accounting for the large number of victims trapped in the debris. (36) For ten days, the British Engineering Corps cleared the wreckage, finally establishing that the explosion had (36) caused the death of 91 people, (12,21) (including 41 Arabs, 28 Britons and 17 Jews) (22,36) and 5 others. (36) At first, the Mandatory government denied having received a telephone warning, but testimony submitted to the interrogating judge made it clear beyond a doubt that such a warning had in fact been given. (36) Moreover, the Palestine Post telephone operator attested on oath to the police that, immediately after receiving the telephone message, she had telephoned the duty officer at the police station. (36) The French Consulate staff opened their windows as they had been told to by the anonymous woman who telephoned them, and this was further evidence of the warning. (36) It is almost impossible to recapitulate what occurred in the government secretariat offices in the half hour preceding the explosion, but all the evidence suggests that there were numerous flaws in the security arrangements in the King David, and that a series of omissions occurred. (36) The telephone warning was disregarded, and although the warning signal was given, an all-clear was sounded shortly before the explosion. (36) These facts indicate that there were serious errors in the decision-making process and that internal communication did not function properly. (36) The success of the Jewish underground in striking at the heart of British government in Palestine, and the high toll of victims, sent shock waves through England and the rest of the world. (36) In the days following the bombing, Tel Aviv was placed under curfew and over 120,000 Jews, nearly 20% of the Jewish population of Palestine, were questioned by the police. (21) The heads of the Jewish Agency were stunned. (36) They feared that the British would adopt even more severe retaliatory measures than on Black Sabbath, and hastened to denounce the operation in the strongest terms. (36) The statement they issued the following day expressed “their feelings of horror at the base and unparalleled act perpetrated today by a gang of criminals.” Even David Ben-Gurion, who was then in Paris, joined the chorus of condemnation, and in an interview to the French newspaper ‘France Soir’, declared that the Irgun was “the enemy of the Jewish people”. (36) The denunciation by the Jewish Agency totally ignored the fact that the bombing of the King David was carried out as part of the activities of the United Resistance, and on the explicit instructions of Moshe Sneh. (36) At the request of the Haganah, the Irgun issued a leaflet accepting responsibility for the operation. (36) It stated, among other things:

The telephone warnings were given at 12:10-12:15. And if it is true, as the British liars have announced, that the explosion occurred at 12:37, they still had 22 minutes at their disposal in order to evacuate the building of its residents and workers. (36) Therefore responsibility for loss of life among civilians rests solely with them. It is not true that the persons who delivered the warning spoke ‘on behalf of the United Resistance’ (as the press reported)… On this matter, we are refraining at present from making any further statement, but it is possible that – in the context of the savage and dastardly incitement – it will be necessary to issue such a statement at the appropriate time. We mourn the Jewish victims; they too are the tragic victims of the tragic and noble Hebrew war of liberation. (36)

The Hebrew press, and the Haganah publications, continued to condemn the Irgun in the strongest possible terms. (36) They were echoed by the British press, which was briefed by the Mandatory government. (36) However, the effect of the British denunciations was blunted to a large extent by the publication of instructions issued by General Sir Evelyn Barker (British army commander in Palestine) several hours after the explosion. (36) He ordered all the Jewish places of entertainment, restaurants, shops and Jewish homes – “out of bounds for all British officers and soldiers”. (36) The instructions ended by saying that: “The aim of these orders are to punish the Jews in a way the race dislikes as much as any, namely by striking at their pockets” Barker’s letter reached the Irgun’s intelligence service and was immediately made public in Palestine and throughout the world. (36) The antisemitic tone of the letter greatly embarrassed the British government and diverted public opinion from the attack on the King David Hotel. (36) Questions were asked in the House of Commons about the letter and the London Daily Herald wrote, among other things, that if General Barker had in fact written the letter, he was demonstrating his unsuitability for his position. (36) The order was officially rescinded two weeks after it was issued, but the damage to the British cause in Palestine could not be erased. (36) However, as a result of Black Sabbath, the moderates now held the upper hand, and at a meeting of the Jewish Agency Executive in Paris on August 5, 1946, it was decided to terminate the armed struggle against the British in Palestine. (36) This marked the end of the glorious ten-month period when all the Jewish forces in Eretz Israel (Haganah, Irgun and Lehi) fought together against foreign rule. (36) The terminating of the armed struggle provoked considerable resentment among many members of the Haganah, and Yitzhak Sadeh (commander of the Palmach) gave vent to this emotion in his article “Proposal and Response” in Ahdut Ha’avoda, October 15, 1946 which he signed Noded (Wanderer). (36)

There will be no capitulation, because there is nobody to order capitulation, and should such a person be found, he would find nobody to carry out the order. (36)

The Jewish Agency and (8) the Haganah continued to smuggle Jews into Palestine, (8,36) and in order to appease those activists in the Haganah ranks who continued to favour armed struggle, it sanctioned the sabotaging of British naval vessels which were hunting down illegal immigrants. (36) Thus, on August 18, 1946, Palmach fighters sabotaged the Empire Haywood and two days later damaged the Empire Rival, the two ships used for deporting immigrants from Haifa to Cyprus. (36) As more Jews attempted to migrate to Mandatory Palestine, the British Government interned more and more (21,22) Jews of “fighting age” and their families (21) in camps in Cyprus (21, 22) until March 1949. (21) The majority of these refugees were weak and dishevelled having just escaped the Nazi death camps of Europe. (22) In a cruel twist of fate, Jewish refugees now found themselves imprisoned behind the wire fences of another European superpower. (22) When the United Resistance ceased to exist, the Irgun and Lehi continued the armed struggle alone. (36) The Irgun was now both morally and materially stronger than ever before. (36) Support for its cause had grown, since the United Resistance had legitimized its activities. (36) The number of recruits increased, and its stock of weapons and ammunition was expanded as a result of its acquisitions from British army depots. (36) Free of the restrictions imposed by the Haganah command, the Irgun now intensified its anti-British activities. (36)

The Exodus

Global outrage was triggered when the British navy captured (23,67) the barely seaworthy (23) Jewish refugee ship (21,23) “Exodus” (23) OR Exodus 1947 (21) off the coast of Palestine in July 1947. (23) After overpowering its passengers and crew, the British sailors conducted the vessel to the port of Haifa. (23) In July 1946 (21) OR 1947 (23) the British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin ordered the ship to be sent back to Europe. (21) The migrants on the ship were forcibly removed by British troops at Hamburg. (21)

The British decide to abandon Palestine

The British will to maintain the mandate was sapped by the Jewish insurgency in Palestine, (34,67) bad publicity over the restriction of Jewish immigrants to Palestine, non-acceptance of a partitioned state (as suggested by the United Nations) amongst Arabs residents, and (34) the cost of keeping 100,000 troops in Palestine. (34,67) The costs weighed heavily on a British economy suffering from post-war depression. (67) Public opinion was demanding an end to the Mandate, to “bring the boys home”. (67) The British government concluded that they could no longer manage Palestine. (8,18) The Attlee government publicly declared this in February (33) 1947. (21,23) On April 2nd, (12,21) the British government referred the Palestine problem to the United Nations. (12,13) They asked the United Nations General Assembly to make recommendations regarding the future of the country. (67) They declined to accept the responsibility for implementing any solution that wasn’t acceptable to both the Jewish and the Arab communities, or to allow other authorities to take over responsibility for public security prior to the termination of its mandate in May 1948. (67) In April 1947, after failing to reconcile the conflicting demands of both the Jewish and Arab communities, (4,6) they evacuated Palestine. (1,6) In an act of desperation, (22) they gave up control of Palestine to the United Nations (5,6) OR requested that a permanent solution be discussed by the United Nations General Assembly. (6) The Labour Foreign Minister, Ernest Bevin, had thus failed to secure either of the British government’s overall objectives. (33) As it became clear that Britain was simply going to leave Palestine in 1948, (20,67) both sides began jockeying for position. (20) The United States had no power to stop Jewish immigration, because it certainly wasn’t going to take over from the British. (24) On April 14th, 1947, Transjordan made a treaty with Iraq. (13)


On 19th May 1947 the British government requested that the Truman do something to prevent American citizens supporting the Zionist underground in Palestine. (22) In early June President Truman urged “every citizen and resident of the United States, in the interests of this country, of world peace, and of humanity, meticulously to refrain, while the United Nations is considering the problem of Palestine, from engaging in, or facilitating, activities which tend further to inflame the passions of the inhabitants of Palestine”. (22) On the 23rd day of September (15) OR before July (21) 1947, the General Assembly assigned the question of (15) options for (13) partitioning of Palestine to its Ad Hoc Committee. (15) OR created the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) to report on “the question of Palestine” (6,21) and draft proposals for the future of Palestine. (6) Chaim Weizmann headed a delegation from the Jewish Agency which presented its case (59) UNSCOP examined the Palestinian question, (10) with much debate and discussion. (8) In July 1947 it visited Palestine and met with Jewish and Zionist delegations. (21) The Arab Higher Committee boycotted the meetings. (21) Another sub-committee, (15) which included all the Arab and Muslim member States (13) was to study (13) all other options (13) OR the proposal of establishing a unitary State in Palestine in which the Democratic Constitution would guarantee the human rights and fundamental freedom of all its citizens without distinction as to race, language or religion. (15) Under the chairmanship of Dr HV Evatt, the Australian Minister for External Affairs, (6) UNSCOP (6,7) finally recommended (6,7) by a majority (12,21) the establishment of an independent Jewish State in Palestine, together with a neighbouring independent Arab State. (6,7) The City of Jerusalem would be under an International Trusteeship System. (21) The principal non-Zionist Orthodox Jewish (or Haredi) party, Agudat Israel, recommended to UNSCOP that a Jewish state be set up after reaching a religious status quo agreement with Ben-Gurion regarding the future Jewish state. (21) The agreement would grant exemption to a quota of yeshiva (religious seminary) students and to all orthodox women from military service, would make the Sabbath the national weekend, promised Kosher food in government institutions and would allow them to maintain a separate education system. (21) The second Subcommittee, issued a long report arguing that partition was illegal according to the terms of the Mandate and proposing a unitary democratic state that would protect rights of all citizens equally. (13)

Reactions to UNSCOP

United States

The two reports were submitted and after prolonged discussions, there was great pressure from the United States to adopt the Resolution to Partition Palestine. (15) The U.S. State Department opposed this partition plan strenuously, considering Zionism contrary to both fundamental American principles and US interests. (25) Author Donald Neff reports that Loy Henderson, Director of the State Department’s Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs, wrote a memo to the Secretary of State warning: “…support by the Government of the United States of a policy favouring the setting up of a Jewish State in Palestine would be contrary to the wishes of a large majority of the local inhabitants with respect to their form of government. Furthermore, it would have a strongly adverse effect upon American interests throughout the Near and Middle East…” Henderson went on to emphasize: “At the present time the United States has a moral prestige in the Near and Middle East unequalled by that of any other great power. We would lose that prestige and would be likely for many years to be considered as a betrayer of the high principles which we ourselves have enunciated during the period of the war.” (25) The General Assembly refused a resolution to submit the Palestine question to the International Court of Justice to determine whether the UN had any jurisdiction to recommend the partition of Palestine or any other country. (15)


The Soviet Delegation supported the majority report.


Communal violence broke out into open warfare in the autumn of 1947. (20,27) Neither Britain nor the UN Security Council took any action to implement the resolution (21,25) and Britain continued detaining Jews attempting to enter Palestine. (21)

The UN General Assembly

Draft of Resolution 181 Proposed

On 25th November 1947 the world became acquainted for the first time with the final draft of the partition resolution: Resolution 181. (15) For a draft resolution to become an official one, UN procedures required a two-third majority of its ad hoc committee. (15) As two votes were lacking for such a majority, the draft was handed to the General Assembly. (15) Both Zionist and Arab delegations were now in a race against time. (15) Other delegates who had originally favoured the partition proposals, but now seemed to be wavering, were pressured and guided by the White House to ensure that a favourable outcome is secured. (15) Concerted and remarkable lobbying by the Zionist lobby ensured at the last moment that those 8 wavering and doubtful votes, were swung into the partition lobby. (15) The resolution included a highly detailed description of the recommended boundaries for each proposed state. (60) The resolution also contained plans for an economic union between the proposed states and for the protection of religious and minority rights. (60) The resolution called for the withdrawal of British forces and termination of the Mandate by August 1948 (60) OR in May 1948, when the British mandate was scheduled to end (10) and establishment of the new independent states by October 1948. (60)

British and the Draft Resolution

The British were against the partition plan. (33,34) Bevin commented: “The majority proposal is so manifestly unjust to the Arabs that it is difficult to see how we could reconcile it with our conscience.” (33) Obviously everybody recognized there would be utter chaos and almost anarchy once the British left.… One can sympathize with the British because this had become an enormous burden to bear, extremely expensive in terms of money and lives with no returns, which they had been carrying on for a great many years. (24)

Reaction to Draft Resolution 181 by Jews

Zionist leaders (including the Jewish Agency), accepted the plan. (67) Zionists pushed for a General Assembly resolution about the future of Palestine. (25) While they rarely announced this publicly, the intention of the Zionists was to later take the rest of Palestine. (25) It recommended that the area be partitioned into a Jewish state and an Arab state, (13,25) in which the Jews would be given a disproportionate 55 % of the land. (55) Ben Gurion, too, accepted the plan. (34) In Peres’ opinion, the essence of Ben-Gurion’s life work were “the decisions he made at critical junctures in Israel’s history”, and none was as important as the acceptance of the 1947 partition plan, a painful compromise which gave the emerging Jewish state little more than a fighting chance, but which, according to Peres, enabled the establishment of the State of Israel. (34) Ben-Gurion believed in the equal rights of Arabs who remained in and would become citizens of Israel. (34) He was quoted as saying, “We must start working in Jaffa. Jaffa must employ Arab workers. And there is a question of their wages. I believe that they should receive the same wage as a Jewish worker. An Arab has also the right to be elected president of the state, should he be elected by all.” (34) Ben-Gurion recognized the strong attachment of Palestinian Arabs to the land and in an address to the United Nations on 2nd October 1947, he doubted the likelihood of peace: “This is our native land; it is not as birds of passage that we return to it. But it is situated in an area engulfed by Arabic-speaking people, mainly followers of Islam. Now, if ever, we must do more than make peace with them; we must achieve collaboration and alliance on equal terms. Remember what Arab delegations from Palestine and its neighbors say in the General Assembly and in other places: talk of Arab-Jewish amity sound fantastic, for the Arabs do not wish it, they will not sit at the same table with us, they want to treat us as they do the Jews of Bagdad, Cairo, and Damascus.” (34) Nahum Goldmann criticized Ben-Gurion for what he viewed as a confrontational approach to the Arab world. (34) Goldmann wrote, “Ben-Gurion is the man principally responsible for the anti-Arab policy, because it was he who moulded the thinking of generations of Israelis.”

Reaction to Draft Resolution 181 by Arabs

The Arabs, and especially Palestinians, angrily rejected partition (15,20) on the grounds that the overwhelming majority of the people of the country did not wish to see their land divided and more than half of it given to the sovereignty of the Jewish minority who, at the time, made up one-third of the population. (20) The partition resolution was illegitimate, as the UN had no right to give away the homeland of the Palestinians. (63) The Palestinians cannot be blamed for trying to hold on to what was rightfully theirs. (63) Compromise was out of the question. (63) Many other Jews were expected to arrive at some future date, all against the wishes of the large majority. (20) Palestinian Arab leaders rejected it and all independent Muslim and Arab states voted against it. (67)

Reaction to Draft Resolution 181 by State Department

When Zionists began pushing for a partition plan through the UN, Henderson recommended strongly against supporting their proposal. (25) He warned that such a partition would have to be implemented by force and emphasized that it was “not based on any principle.” … “… [partition] would guarantee that the Palestine problem would be permanent and still more complicated in the future…” Henderson specifically pointed out: “… [proposals for partition] are in definite contravention to various principles laid down in the [UN] Charter as well as to principles on which American concepts of Government are based. These proposals, for instance, ignore such principles as self-determination and majority rule. They recognize the principle of a theocratic racial state and even go so far in several instances as to discriminate on grounds of religion and race…” Henderson was far from alone in making his recommendations. (25) In the State Department Henderson wrote that his anti-Zionist views were not only those of the entire Near East Division but were shared by “nearly every member of the Foreign Service or of the Department who has worked to any appreciable extent on Near Eastern problems.” (25) Henderson wasn’t exaggerating. (25) Official after official and agency after agency opposed Zionism. (25) In 1947 the CIA reported that Zionist leadership was pursuing objectives that would endanger both Jews and “the strategic interests of the Western powers in the Near and Middle East.” OR Partition was threatened temporarily when the American delegation to the U. N. switched its position and pressed for a trusteeship. (59)

Reaction to Draft Resolution by USSR

The USSR had begun to support Zionism at the UN during the debate. (45) It preferred a Jewish–Arab binational state. (45) But if this proved impossible it indicated that it would support partition and a Jewish state. (45) The USSR formally voted in support. (15,27) On 14th May 1947, the Soviet ambassador Andrei Gromyko announced: “As we know, the aspirations of a considerable part of the Jewish people are linked with the problem of Palestine and of its future administration. This fact scarcely requires proof. During the last war, the Jewish people underwent exceptional sorrow and suffering. The United Nations cannot and must not regard this situation with indifference, since this would be incompatible with the high principles proclaimed in its Charter. The fact that no Western European State has been able to ensure the defence of the elementary rights of the Jewish people and to safeguard it against the violence of the fascist executioners explains the aspirations of the Jews to establish their own State. It would be unjust not to take this into consideration and to deny the right of the Jewish people to realize this aspiration.” Shortly after this speech, the Soviet media temporarily stopped publishing anti-Zionist material. (45)

Lobbying prior to vote on Resolution 181

The strength of the Jewish/Zionist lobby in Washington should not have come as a surprise to the world community. (15) Zionist politicians did not waste time in recruiting and lobbying wavering delegates. (15) At the same time, intensive efforts were made by the Zionist leadership around the world to gain crucial votes: Financier and long-time presidential advisor Bernard Baruch told France it would lose U.S. aid if it voted against partition (25) so the French altered their position from abstaining to supporting the resolution; (15) Top White House executive assistant David Niles organized pressure on Liberia; rubber magnate Harvey Firestone pressured Liberia. (25) As a result of these economic promises, (15,25) Liberia offered support; the direct lobbying of President Truman and pro-Zionist senators and congressmen secured the votes of 12 out of 20 Latin American countries. (15) Latin American delegates were told that the Pan-American highway construction project would be more likely if they voted yes. (25) Delegates’ wives received mink coats (the wife of the Cuban delegate returned hers); Costa Rica’s President Jose Figueres reportedly received a blank cheque book. (25) Haiti was promised economic aid if it would change its original vote opposing partition. (25) Longtime Zionist Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, along with ten senators and Truman domestic advisor Clark Clifford, threatened the Philippines (seven bills were pending on the Philippines in Congress). (25) Before the vote on the plan, the Philippine delegate had given a passionate speech against partition, defending the inviolable “primordial rights of a people to determine their political future and to preserve the territorial integrity of their native land…” He went on to say that he could not believe that the General Assembly would sanction a move that would place the world “back on the road to the dangerous principles of racial exclusiveness and to the archaic documents of theocratic governments.” (25) President Truman, in his memoirs, stated the following: “The facts were that not only were there pressure movements around the United Nations unlike anything that had been seen there before, but that the White House, too, was subjected to a constant barrage. (15) I do not think I ever had as much pressure and propaganda aimed at the White House as I had in this instance. (15) The persistence of a few of the extreme Zionist leaders—actuated by political motives and engaging in political threats—disturbed and annoyed me”. (15) Not to be forgotten, the President of the General Assembly for that session was Oswaldo Aranha who is known to have lobbied as fiercely as the Zionists to sway the vote for acceptance. (15) He even postponed the voting session for 3 days to ensure passage. (15) Chaim Weizmann was instrumental in the adoption of the Partition Plan. (56) He accepted the principle of partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states provided that the Jews were free to form a “free national unit.” (59) When it was clear that the Partition recommendation did not have the required two-thirds of the UN General Assembly to pass, Zionists pushed through a delay in the vote. (25) They then used this period to pressure numerous nations into voting for the recommendation. (25) A number of people later described this campaign. (25) Robert Nathan, a Zionist who had worked for the US government and who was particularly active in the Jewish Agency, wrote afterward, “We used any tools at hand,” such as telling certain delegations that the Zionists would use their influence to block economic aid to any countries that did not vote the right way. (25) Another Zionist proudly stated:

Every clue was meticulously checked and pursued. Not the smallest or the remotest of nations, but was contacted and wooed. Nothing was left to chance.” (36)

What actually happened on the ground

Conflict between Arabs and Jews continued. (1,3)

Resolution 181 passed November 1947

Twenty-four hours later, after intense Zionist pressure, (25) on Saturday morning, (15) 29th November (4,5) 1947, (1,4) OR Nov. 30th 1947 (59) the General Assembly of the (5,6) UN (1,4) in New York (15) voted for resolution 181; (4,10) OR Resolution 181 (II) Future Government of Palestine (60) after pro-Israel elements threatened and bribed numerous countries in order to gain a required two-thirds of votes. (15,25) This was on the recommendation of the Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), (23) This was the majority report of UNSCOP, but with slight modifications. (21) By a two-thirds majority (23) they noted Britain’s planned termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and (10,60) agreed that the Mandate territory of Palestine (13,17) the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean (17,23) should be partitioned (4,10) into a Jewish and an Arab state. (1,4) The area of religious significance surrounding (10) Jerusalem (4,10) and Bethlehem (23) would (10,17) due to their religious importance (23) form an international enclave (10,17) under an international regime, (4,10) a trusteeship (12) protected and (60) administered by the United Nations. (10,12) The two countries should each consist of three major enclaves that were to be connected by extra-territorial roads and an economic union. (23) The resolution called upon the inhabitants of the country to take such steps as might be necessary on their part to put the plan into effect: (11,16) the British, for example, were to allow “substantial” Jewish migration by 1st February 1948. (21) The vote3 was 33 in support of the Resolution, 13 members opposed it and 10 members abstained. (15) In 1947, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine recommended that western Palestine should be partitioned into a Jewish state, an Arab state and a UN-controlled territory, Corpus separatum, around Jerusalem. (27) This partition plan was adopted on November 29, 1947 with UN GA Resolution 181, 33 votes in favour, 13 against, and 10 abstentions. (27) One small country, Siam, was absent. (15) When the time to vote arrived, the British Government, perhaps under the weight of its guilt for abusing the trust which the League of Nations had bestowed upon it to protect, guide and assist Palestine to achieve its independence at the end of its Mandatory period, opted to abstain from voting. (15) If there was one moment in history that definitively established Britain’s position on Jewish sovereignty, it was the 1947 United Nations partition vote. (22) 72% of the nations taking part voted for the creation of Jewish and Arab states. (22) Greece and Britain were only Western nations that chose not to vote for the creation of Israel. (22) It was a typical cop-out. (15)

Reactions to Resolution 181


Concerned that partition would severely damage Anglo-Arab relations, Britain denied UN representatives access to Palestine during the period between the adoption of Resolution 181 and the termination of the British Mandate. (21) They announced they would hand the Mandate over to the U.N. on 15th May 1948. (34,67)

UN Security Council

Thus the UN General Assembly recommended the creation of a Jewish state in part of Palestine, though recommendation was non-binding and never implemented by the Security Council. (25)


The Jews accepted the proposal (4,7) in good faith, albeit reluctantly, as it had the 1937 Peel Commission Report recommending partition. (64) Domestically it was quite clear that this was what they wanted. (24,59) OR The Jewish leadership never genuinely accepted the idea of partition; expulsion not transfer was always the plan. (63) Most of the yishuv (Jewish residents) rejoiced at November’s UN vote: since the time of Herzl, the creation of a Jewish state had been the dream and aim of political Zionism. (26) Now it seemed within grasp. (26) The Jewish community expressed its joy. (21,23) Celebrations broke out in their cities (27) towns and villages (23) and dancing people were lining the streets. (23,59) While the parties of the Yishuv (Jewish residents) had hoped for a more favourable piece of the territorial pie, a majority of them ultimately (23) recognized their unique historical opportunity to form a Jewish nation state (23,14) Shortly after the UN vote (21,23) The Jews announced that Israel would be a secular state, which meant that religion would have no influence, and that all people living within its borders would have the full rights of citizenship. (18) In other words, although Israel was being created as a homeland for Jews, Arabs would qualify as citizens and be able to vote and stand for the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. (18)


The Palestinian (7,26) Arabs did not accept the resolution. (1,4) They demanded a single state and removal of Jewish migrants. (27) Arab groups argued that they represented the majority of the population in certain regions and should be granted more territory. (61) They saw the plan as an extension of a long-running Jewish attempt push them out of the land, fought it. (7,66) In allocating the territories, the UN paid attention to the fact that both the Jews and the Arabs would form majorities in their respective states. (23) The Plan appeared to favour the Jews. (18) The Arab state would have had 725,000 non-Jews and 10,000 Jews, (23) In the international zone there would have lived 105,000 non-Jews and 100,000 Jews. (23) Although the population of Palestine was about 60% Arab, (18) the Jews received more than half of the land (18,23) (56 per cent of Western Palestine) (23) and the more fertile areas as well, whereas the Arabs were allotted areas that were mostly desert. (18) The Arab world rejected more vehemently than ever the international plan to partition Palestine into two states. (23) Abdur Rahman Assam Pasha (1893–1976), secretary general of the Arab League threatened that the establishment of a Jewish state would result in a “massacre that would one day be talked about like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades”. (23) Supported by Arabs elsewhere, they rejected the resolution root and branch: (26) In reality, the Jewish immigration authority estimated that the Jewish state would have had a population of 498,000 Jews and 407,000 non-Jews (especially Arabs) (23). This did not satisfy many Arabs. (18) They did not want to live in Israel. (18) They wanted a state of their own. (18) They wanted to stop the establishment of a Jewish state at all costs. (23) Particularly menacingly, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem had already declared in October 1947: “…As soon as the British armed forces have withdrawn, the Arabs should jointly attack the Jews and destroy them (23) and indeed it did lead to the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. (27)

US Diplomats

The U.S. delegation to the U.N. was so outraged when Truman insisted that they support partition that the State Department director of U.N. Affairs was sent to New York to prevent the delegates from resigning en masse. (25) The State Department, concerned about the possibility of an increasing Soviet role in the Arab world and the potential for restriction by Arab oil producing nations of oil supplies to the United States, advised against U.S. intervention on behalf of the Jews. (10) In 1948 Secretary of State, George Marshall campaigned against the creation of Israel. (22) It provided a “shallow patina of legality”, though Israel was born over the opposition of American experts and of governments around the world, who opposed it on both pragmatic and moral grounds. (25) Nevertheless, the United Nations plan was approved and preparations began for the new state of Israel. (18) During December the USA backed Resolution 181, (10) OR Truman (21) OR The U.S. Department of State (10,22) endorsed the “Morrison Grady Plan” which proposed a unitary federal (21) United Nations trusteeship (10,22) in Palestine instead of the partition plan. (21) Then America struck a blow to the Zionist cause which almost resulted in the destruction of Israel. (22) In December 1947 the State Department announced that the United States Government was “for the present” discontinuing the licensing of arms to Palestine. (22) Jewish and Arab provinces would exercise self-rule under British oversight, while Jerusalem and the Negev would remain under direct British control. (22) There should be limits on Jewish immigration and a division of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab provinces but not states. (10) In 1947, about 70,910 Arabs (41,000 Muslims and 29,910 Christians) and 74,230 Jews were living in Haifa. (48) The Christian community were mostly Greek-Melkite Catholics. (48) The 1947 UN Partition Plan designated Haifa as part of the proposed Jewish state. (48)

Intercommunal violence begins

Immediately (23) OR 18 days (12) after the UN resolution, the Arabs rose up in arms against the Jewish-Zionist presence in Palestine, (12,23) announcing that they would stop the proposed division of the Holy Land by force, (12,60) They formed volunteer armies throughout Palestine, (61) and the fighting in Palestine increased. (25) Fighting broke out (5,7) OR intensified (20,21) into civil war (21,25) in January 1948 (20,21) OR from November onward. (20,26) For four months, under continuous Arab provocation and attack, the Jewish Residents were usually on the defensive while occasionally retaliating. (67) Hundreds of Arabs, Jews and British were killed. (67) On 30th December 1947, members of the Irgun, a Jewish underground militia, threw bombs into a crowd of Arabs (44,48) waiting for construction jobs (44) outside the gates of the Consolidated Refineries in Haifa, killing six and injuring 42. (44,48) In response Rioting erupted (44) and 2,000 (44) Arab employees of the company killed 39 of their Jewish fellow employees in what became known as the Haifa Oil Refinery massacre. (44,48) On December 31st, 1947, (44) Jewish forces (44,48) (the Jewish Haganah militia) (48) retaliated with a raid on the Arab village of Balad al-Shaykh (44,48) , where many of the Arab refinery workers lived, in what became known as the Balad al-Shaykh massacre. (48) This set the stage for the nakba, (20) the Jewish policy of ethnic cleansing. (63) The Palestinian Arabs were supported by volunteer militiamen from Syria, Transjordan and Iraq. (23) In the so-called “war of the streets”, they blocked many transport routes between the Jewish settlements and besieged Jerusalem. (23) Arab protests over the allocation of Haifa to Israel evolved into violence between Jews and Arabs that left several dozen people dead during December. (48) The Arab city was in anarchy. (48) The local Arab national committee tried to stabilize the situation by organizing garrison, calming the frightened residents and to stop the flight. (48) In a public statement, the national committee called upon the Arab residents to obey orders, be alert, keep calm, and added: “Keep away the cowards who wish to flee. (48) Expel them from your lines. (48) Despise them, because they harm more than the enemy”. (48) Despite the efforts, Arab residents abandoned the streets which bordered Jewish neighbourhoods and during the days of the general strike instigated by the Arab Higher Committee, some 250 Arab families abandoned the Khalisa neighbourhood. (48) The British were caught in the middle. (23) Increasingly they sought for a possibility to withdraw undamaged from the mandate area. (23) After the British had left their army camps, police stations and government buildings, the battles focused on these now-abandoned symbols of control. (23) Wells Stabler, at the time a vice consul and later an ambassador, had a few close calls with the violence that broke out and tragically watched several of his colleagues die, including Consul General Tom Wasson. (24)


As the Jews began to gird themselves for a great battle, many in the international community grew alarmed at the intensified violence. (26) Their alarm grew when Arab states announced that they would come to the aid of the Palestinian Arabs once the British left. (26) A regional war now seemed likely, and no one could be certain how it might end. (26) By the spring of 1948, some governments that had supported the UN’s partition plan began to backtrack. (26) Of these, the most important was the United States. (26) As you added up the Arab manpower for the Arab armies, it was hard, frankly, to see how in the final analysis the Jews would be able to withstand this onslaught. (24) It was the view in all the Arab capitals that they would not. (24) American representatives in all the Arab capitals were reporting that this better not happen, because the Jews would be pushed into the sea. (24)As early as November 1947, the CIA had estimated that even if the Jews might at first seem to be winning, eventually they would lose:

The Jewish forces will initially have the advantage. However, as the Arabs gradually coordinate their war effort, the Jews will be forced to withdraw from isolated positions, and having been drawn into a war of attrition, will gradually be defeated. Unless they are able to obtain significant outside aid in terms of manpower and matériel, the Jews will be able to hold out no longer than two years. The fear was that, in this eventuality, the United States would come under political pressure to save the yishuv (Jewish residents) , an enterprise that according to the Pentagon would require at least 50,000 American troops. Would it not be better to forestall such an outcome by aborting the partition plan and putting the country under a “temporary” UN trusteeship, preceded by a UN-sponsored cease-fire? The mandate could thus be prolonged, and a Jewish state deferred.” (26)

With such a truce and such a trusteeship,” announced President Harry Truman in March, “a peaceful settlement is yet possible; without them, open warfare is just over the horizon”—and that warfare would “infect the entire Middle East.” (26) In a confidential note, General Yigael Yadin (1917–1984), head of Israeli military operations, initially estimated the chances of Israel’s survival at “fifty-fifty”. (23) The British field marshal Bernard Montgomery (1887–1976) gave Israel “three weeks” before it would be defeated. (23)

British withdrawal

Unable to solve the Palestine problem, Britain decided to withdraw its forces. (12,33) Bevin negotiated the Portsmouth Treaty with Iraq (signed on 15th January 1948), which, according to the Iraqi foreign minister Muhammad Fadhel al-Jamali, was accompanied by a British undertaking to withdraw from Palestine in such a fashion as to provide for swift Arab occupation of all its territory. (33) The British decided on 7th February 1948 to support the annexation of the Arab part of Palestine by Transjordan. (21) As the British withdrew, the Palestinians fought to gain control of every town. (18) A number of Arab Liberation Army regiments inside Palestine, each active in a variety of distinct sectors around the different coastal towns. (21) They consolidated their presence in Galilee and Samaria. (21) Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni came from Egypt with several hundred men of the Army of the Holy War. (21) Having recruited a few thousand volunteers, he organized the blockade of the 100,000 Jewish residents of Jerusalem. (21) The Yishuv (Jewish residents) tried to supply the city using convoys of up to 100 armoured vehicles, but largely failed. (21) By March, almost all Haganah’s armoured vehicles had been destroyed, the blockade was in full operation, and hundreds of Haganah members who had tried to bring supplies into the city were killed. (21) The Israelis defended their country and occupied more territory. (18) They took over all of the areas that the United Nations had set aside for Arabs. (18) Arabs living in the areas occupied by Israel began to leave. (18) In 1948 terrorist activities especially by the Jewish Irgun, and the “Stern Gang” (12,18) and (to a lesser extent) Haganah, took on war-like proportions, (12) and thousands of Arabs fled the country. (12,18) Up to 100,000 (20,21) OR 413,794 (25) Palestinians, mainly from the upper and middle classes, (20,21) fled the cities and towns (20,21) such as Haifa, Jaffa and Jerusalem, or Jewish-dominated areas (21) which were the epicentre of the fighting, (20) to go abroad or to Arab centres eastwards. (21) Until then, expulsions were rare. (20) In April 1948, the Jewish forces launched a more concerted campaign of massacre and forced displacement. (20) Those who stayed, or tried to fight, were killed, (18,20) men, women and children, (18) Ben-Gurion gave Yigael Yadin the responsibility to plan for the announced intervention of the Arab states. (21) The British withdrawal was finally completed in May 1948. (21)

Plan Dalet

The Zionists recognized that a Jewish state could not exist until most Arabs were expelled. (63) Zionist military units had stealthily been preparing for war before the UN vote. (25) Time and again it has been discussed whether there was a Zionist “master plan” at the time that involved ethnic cleansing. (23) Historical research shows that there was no governmental directive given for the expulsion of the Arabs. (23) OR In early April (20,23) precisely 1st April 1948 (23) saw the launch of the “Plan Dalet” military campaign (20,21) in which Haganah passed from the defensive to the offensive. (21) The Zionists began to expel Palestinians from their homes, almost certainly according to this plan. (63) Over the following months the armed wing of the pro-Israel movement, which had long been preparing for war, perpetrated a series of massacres and expulsions throughout Palestine, implementing a plan to clear the way for a majority-Jewish state. (25) The plan sought to establish Jewish territorial continuity by conquering (20,21) and ethnically cleansing (20) mixed zones (20,21) OR all the areas that the UN had allocated to the Jews (20,23) and, if possible, even the outlying Jewish settlements. (23) Beyond this, the Zionists wanted to open the traffic lines between their settlements and to force entry into Jerusalem. (23) There was especially heavy fighting on the road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (23) Solely in self-defense, the Haganah (later the Israeli Army) took over more land than had been allotted in the Partition Resolution and was justified in holding it, as it would have inevitably become a base for attacks on Israel. (64) The British in Haifa redeployed on April 21, 1948, (3 weeks before the creation of Israel) (44,48) withdrawing from most of the city while still maintaining control over the port facilities. (44,48) Israeli forces were ordered into action by Mordechai Maklef at 10:30 am on that day following three months of unsuccessful attacks by Arab forces. (44) The downtown area of the city, which was controlled by a combination of local and foreign (ALA) Arab irregulars was assaulted by Jewish forces in Operation Bi’ur Hametz, (48) and the city was captured on April 23rd, 1948 by the Carmeli Brigade of the Haganah (44,48) under the command of Moshe Carmel (48) The operation led to a massive displacement of Haifa’s Arab population. (44,48) as most of the Muslim population fled through the British-controlled port. (44) Contemporary sources emphasized the Jewish leadership’s attempt to stop the Arab exodus from the city (48,64) and the Arab leadership as a motivating factor in the refugees’ flight. (48) According to the British district superintendent of police, “Every effort is being made by the Jews to persuade the Arab populace to stay and carry on with their normal lives, to get their shops and business open and to be assured that their lives and interests will be safe.” Time Magazine wrote on 3 May 1948: “The mass evacuation, prompted partly by fear, partly by orders of Arab leaders, left the Arab quarter of Haifa a ghost city … By withdrawing Arab workers their leaders hoped to paralyze Haifa.” (48) Haifa’s Arabs left due to a combination of Zionist threats and encouragement to do so by Arab leaders. (48) Ilan Pappé writes that the shelling culminated in an attack on a Palestinian crowd in the old marketplace using three-inch (76 mm) mortars on 22 April 1948. (48) Shabtai Levy, the Mayor of the city, and some other Jewish leaders urged Arabs not to leave. (48) According to Ilan Pappé, Jewish loudspeakers could be heard in the city ordering Arab residents to leave “before it’s too late.” Morris quotes British sources as stating that during the battles between 22 and 23 April 100 Arabs were killed and 100 wounded, but he adds that the total may have been higher. (48)

Deir Yassin Massacre

On 8th (23) OR 9th (20) April 1948, a division of the Ezel militia carried out (23) a planned massacre (63) known as the Deir Yassin (20,23) OR Yasin (63) massacre. (20,23) The place is today Givat Shaul, a Jerusalem suburb. (23) About 100 Palestinians were killed there. (20) This spread panic among Palestinians, encouraging them to flee. (20,63) When terror didn’t do the trick, Palestinians were forced out by Jewish militias. (20)Tiberias, Haifa, Safed, Beisan, Jaffa and Acre fell, resulting in the flight of more than 250,000 Palestinian Arabs. (21) This was a major factor in the bitter hatred that developed between Jews and Arabs. (18) Arab atrocities proved they had no other choice. (64) In the middle of April 1948 there was an Arab attack on a convoy carrying Jewish wounded, doctors and nurses to Jerusalem, which left about 80 people dead. (23) It is a little known fact that the Arabs also conducted ethnic cleansing in this war when they had the chance. (23) On 13th May 1948, Arab Legion troops participated in a massacre at the kibbutz Kfar Etzion south of Jerusalem. (23) More than 120 captive Jews were shot with machine guns and the four settlements of Gush Etzion between Jerusalem and Hebron were razed. (23)

Movement of Refugees

Almost all of the roughly 650,000 Jews went to the western area, and a majority of the Arab population (roughly twice the size of the Jewish community) went to the eastern one. (66) By 1948, in the wake of the Holocaust, Jewish support for partition and a Jewish state had become overwhelming. (13) Nevertheless, some Jewish voices still argued for unification. (13) The International Jewish Labor Bund was against the UN vote on the partition of Palestine and reaffirmed its support for a single binational state that would guarantee equal national rights for Jews and Arabs and would be under the control of superpowers and the UN. (13) The policy of the new Israeli government had some opposition from its own members, such as those who argued that there was “no justification for organizing large-scale emigration among Jews whose lives were not in danger, particularly when the desire and motivation were not their own” as well as those who argued that the absorption process caused “undue hardship”. (27) However, the force of Ben-Gurion’s influence and insistence ensured that his immigration policy was carried out. (27) The Lehi spread fear and terror and increased the Arabs’ mass flight from the Jewish-controlled areas. (23) It was this armed aggression, and the ethnic cleansing of at least three-quarters of a million indigenous Palestinians, that created the Jewish state on land that had been 95 % non-Jewish prior to Zionist immigration and that even after years of immigration remained 70 % non-Jewish. (25) At least 33 massacres of Palestinian civilians were perpetrated, half of them before a single Arab army had entered the conflict, hundreds of villages were depopulated and razed, and a team of cartographers was sent out to give every town, village, river, and hillock a new, Hebrew name. (25) OR The flight and expulsion of the Palestinians has since been widely, and controversially, described as having involved ethnic cleansing. (27) According to a growing consensus between Israeli and Palestinian historians, expulsion and destruction of villages played a part in the origin of the Palestinian refugees. (27) Efraim Karsh, however, states that most of the Arabs who fled left of their own accord or were pressured to leave by their fellow Arabs, despite Israeli attempts to convince them to stay. (27)” All vestiges of Palestinian habitation, history, and culture were to be erased from history, an effort that almost succeeded. (25) Most of the Arab population (roughly twice the size of the Jewish community) went to the east. (7) Since the creation of the State of Israel, the World Zionist Organization functioned mainly as an organization dedicated to assisting and encouraging Jews to migrate to Israel. (27) It has provided political support for Israel in other countries but plays little role in internal Israeli politics. (27) The movement’s major success since 1948 was in providing logistical support for migrating Jews and, most importantly, in assisting Soviet Jews in their struggle with the authorities over the right to leave the USSR and to practice their religion in freedom, and the exodus of 850,000 (27) OR roughly 650,000 (7) Jews from the Arab world, mostly to Israel. (27) Almost all of the Jews went to the west of the new state. (7) According to The Economist at the time, only 5,000–6,000 of Haifa’s 62,000 Arabs remained there by 2 October 1948. (48)

US Policy 4

As the date for British departure from Palestine (10) (May 1948 1,2) drew near, the Department of State grew concerned: (10) on the 19th March 1948 the United States proposed the United Nations abandon their plan of partitioning Mandatory Palestine. (22) Instead they proposed the UN put in place a trusteeship (similar to the “Morrison Grady Plan”, but under the auspices of the UN) until such a time as an agreement could be reached between the Jews and Arabs. (22) Strong opposition to partition from the US State and Defence Departments guided this proposal. (22) The opposition was spearheaded by one of the biggest opponents to Israeli statehood, the Secretary of State, George Marshall. (22) Marshall believed that if Israel declared independence (22) war in the Middle East would be inevitable. (10,22) This situation caused the US to withdraw their support for the Partition plan, thus encouraging the Arab League to believe that the Palestinian Arabs, reinforced by the Arab Liberation Army, could put an end to the plan for partition. (21) General Marshall thought that if the US supported a Jewish state the Arabs would deny them their much coveted oil. (22) The Arab states threatened to attack almost as soon as the UN passed the partition resolution. (10,12) By the time Israel had gained its independence, Haganah was effectively the army for Israel. (14) Many members of Haganah had gained military experience during World War Two – ironically fighting for the same British military that they had been attacking before the war. (14) The Irgun, the underground Jewish military force, was buoyed by its military victories in the spring and finally declared independence. (5) By the time of the founding of Israel, nearly all the goals of “Plan Dalet” had been achieved. (23) These included establishing geographic cohesion and a viable defence of the Jewish-populated areas of Palestine within the borders of the United Nations partition plan. (23) These developments pushed the leaders of the neighbouring Arab states to intervene. (21) Right up to the eve of the British departure the United States pressed the leaders of the yishuv (Jewish residents) , as well as its American Zionist supporters, to accept the trusteeship proposal, or at least the UN-sponsored truce. (26) Most famously, on May 8, 1948, U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall, a skeptic on Jewish statehood, met in Washington with the shadow foreign minister of Israel, Moshe Shertok (later Sharett). (26) Marshall began by acknowledging that the Jewish forces had won an initial string of victories—consolidating their hold on most of the territory allotted to the Jewish state and a few areas allotted to the Arab state as well—but dismissed this as but a “temporary success.” In the longer run, he warned Shertok, there was “no assurance” that fortune might not turn against the Jews. (26) “I told Mr. Shertok,” Marshall reported to President Truman, that they were taking a gamble. (26) If the tide did turn adversely and they came running to us for help they should be placed clearly on notice now that there was no warrant to expect help from the United States, which had warned them of the grave risk which they were running. (26) Marshall’s message came through loud and clear: postpone your state, and accept a truce. (26) (The Americans spoke of a three-month cease-fire.) (26) If you roll the dice, and you lose, don’t expect salvation from us. (26) The prospect of such all-out war was frightening, and here the Americans were proposing a truce; would it perhaps be sensible to accept it? The most prominent waverer, according to lore, was Shertok himself. (26) Marshall had made him doubt the wisdom of declaring the state—so it was said—and he’d arrived back in Tel Aviv on May 11, straight from Washington, opposed to such a declaration. (26) But (the story goes on) the resolute Ben-Gurion practically abducted him from the airport on arrival, got him behind a locked door, and made him promise to keep his opinion to himself lest his flagging infect others. (26) Did some yishuv (Jewish residents) leaders need to have their spines stiffened by a resolute Ben-Gurion? The story has an almost biblical ring to it. (26) Is it true? Supporting it is a supposed statement by Ben-Gurion many years after the fact. (26) But the historical consensus today holds otherwise: the preponderance of evidence shows that Shertok’s resolve remained steady, and the story of his bending in the wind was exaggerated if not contrived by later opponents who sought to smear him as a man of little faith in his people. (26) Indeed, on May 7, the day before their meeting, Shertok wrote to Marshall to clarify that “I see no prospect of an agreement which would preclude the setting up of a Provisional Government for the Jewish State.” In the next day’s meeting, without antagonizing Marshall by bluntly telling him “no,” he had been at pains to insist that there would be no retreat: We stand on the threshold of fulfilling the hope of centuries, the culmination of an enterprise in which generations have sunk their efforts. (26) This is within our grasp. (26) For us to agree to any delay, without any certainty that this [state] would arise after the delay, would oblige us to stand in judgment before Jewish history, which we cannot do under any circumstances… The process of territorial and functional taking-over was in full swing. (26) Any leadership that tries to break this momentum would be swept from the stage. (26) Upon his return home, Shertok saw it as his duty to report Marshall’s warnings to Ben-Gurion and his colleagues, both in the Mapai party and in the People’s Administration. (26) But he also made it plain that Marshall hadn’t banged his fist on the table. (26) In Shertok’s telling, Marshall had flashed Israel not a red light but a yellow one, while other, friendlier figures in Washington were flashing green. (26) The sum effect of his messaging was not to exacerbate any doubts that other yishuv (Jewish residents) leaders might have had but to ease them. (26) If this has been obscured in later years, it is because, as Ben-Gurion and Shertok grew apart, the story of the latter’s wavering, retailed by the former’s supporters, grew in the telling—causing Shertok no small amount of personal grief. (26) “This lie,” he complained to his diary in 1957, “which resurfaces from time to time, pursues me all these years. (26) What can I do? Deny again?” But this pertains to the much later history of Israeli political rivalries. (26) What is important is that on the morning of May 12, 1948, when the members of the People’s Administration took their seats around the table, Ben-Gurion and Shertok were broadly aligned. (26)

The Creation of Israel

America did not create Israel. (22)

The April 12th Meeting

The modern history of Palestine begins with the termination of the British Mandate, the Partition of Palestine and the creation of Israel, and the ensuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (60) Tucked in a residential side street near the Habimah Theater in Tel Aviv is the Jewish National Fund House. (26) Built in the late 1930s in the Bauhaus style, for the last 30 years the structure has served as an educational centre and museum. (26) It doesn’t appear in most guidebooks because it’s open only to groups. (26) Most Israelis and tourists who want to learn about Israel’s beginnings never visit it, instead finding their way to a building, now known as Independence Hall, on Rothschild Boulevard. (26) There, on May 14, 1948, the cameras would record Ben-Gurion’s solemn declaration of the state and the festive signing ceremony. (26) But before Israel could be proclaimed, it had to be born. (26) That birth took place in the Jewish National Fund House. (26) During the month prior to the state’s declaration, the building hosted the People’s Administration, the proto-cabinet, and the People’s Council, a kind of proto-parliament, both of them established by order of the Zionist Executive on April 12, 1948 in anticipation of the end of the mandate. (26) This “Declaration of Political Independence,” issued on April 12, was largely written by Zalman Rubashov (later Shazar, future third president of Israel), who read it aloud in a dramatic midnight session: The Zionist Executive Council, the highest body of the world Zionist movement, declares today its decision to establish in the country the high authority of our political independence. … Immediately upon the end of the mandate, and no later than May 16, there will come into being a Jewish provisional government. (26) It was precisely to implement this decision that the Zionist Executive, in the same declaration, created the People’s Administration. (26) It was exactly one month later, May 12, in a second-floor meeting room, that ten of the thirteen members of the People’s Administration met in a marathon session to decide upon a course of action. (26) Those around the table that day had witnessed too much Jewish history. (26) They had seen the population of the yishuv (Jewish residents) grow tenfold in 30 years—but had also seen the Jewish people in Europe almost totally destroyed in fewer than five. (26) And in the past year alone, history’s wheel had started to turn again. (26)

The British depart

The British mandate over Palestine was to officially terminate (8,12) at midnight, (8) May 14th 1948. (1,2) On May 13th the British High Commissioner, General Sir Alan Cunningham, broadcast a farewell message in which he called for moderation by both Jews and Arabs to preserve peace. (19) On the 14th, (19,21) in his full dress uniform at eight o’clock in the morning, he left Government House in Jerusalem after reviewing an honour guard of fifty men of the Highland Light Infantry, (19) the last British troops (19,21) in the country. (19) He flew from a little airstrip called Kalondia between Jerusalem and Ramallah and found there a small plane, leaving British troops drawn up in battle array with a battery of field artillery with guns aiming in the direction of Jerusalem. (24) Sir Alan was received with full honors at the little airstrip. (24) After saying goodbye to me and Andronovich and to his staff, he took off in his little plane headed for Haifa. (24) He then flew to Haifa, where he took the salute from a detachment of the Palestine Police, shook hands with both the Jewish mayor of Haifa and the Arab deputy mayor, and at midnight (19) sailed away (19,21) on the waiting British cruiser Euryalus, no doubt with considerable relief. (19) The guns were hitched up and bit by bit the British forces also departed. (24) With the departure of the British forces all public security in Jerusalem had come to an end. (24) In May 1948, less than a year after the Partition of Palestine was introduced, [?]4 Britain withdrew from Palestine and Israel became an independent state. (61)There was no neutral police force, no security provided by a third element, that is to say, Jews, Arab and the British. (24) A group of members of the [consulate] staff, including civilian guards who had recently come in, had been shot at. (24) The British had gone, and public order had completely collapsed. (24) They went back to the Consulate General and asked to borrow a car, which was refused them. (24) They didn’t want to risk walking up there again and being shot at. (24) I said, “Look here, I have my car with a couple of flags on it. (24) Hop in the car and I will drive you up there.” This was around noontime on the 15th. (24) In they got, along with me and my little dachshund. (24) We drove up the street around the corner from the Consulate General and almost in no time we started getting shot at. (24) I drove the car right up on the sidewalk and let the people in the car get out. (24) They almost fell into the hotel. (24) As soon as they had gotten out I started driving up the street towards the YMCA. (24) At this point I was taken under machine-gun fire, on one side by Israel snipers in Jerusalem and the other side by the Arabs. (24) I decided it was a no-win situation and backed my car down again on the sidewalk and came really within a hairbreadth of having a bullet right through my head. (24) It was scary. (24) I was able to get out and fall into this hotel, literally. (24) There we were stuck for over 24 hours. (24) Resolution 181 is frequently cited, but it was of limited (if any) legal impact. (25) General Assembly resolutions, unlike Security Council resolutions, are not binding on member states. (25) While the UN vote licensed the creation of a Jewish state, the UN failed to act to implement its own decision. (26) For this reason, the resolution requested that “[t]he Security Council take the necessary measures as provided for in the plan for its implementation,” which the Security Council never did. (25) Legally, the General Assembly Resolution was a “recommendation” and did not create any states. (25)

State of Israel decided, 12th May

The Palestine mandate having expired without an amicable solution, the Jewish National Council declared the existence of the State of Israel. (23,26) The voting took place behind closed doors on May 12, 1948, three days before the end of the British mandate, in the People’s Administration, a kind of proto-cabinet. (26) But here things become complicated. (26) The standard story has it that a vote was held on whether to accept a truce in the fighting already raging between the Arabs and the Jews. (26) That would have delayed the declaration of a state, perhaps indefinitely. (26) Then a second vote was held on the question of the whether the new state should announce its borders. (26) The UN partition plan included a map, but Israel’s founders decided that it wouldn’t bind them. (26) Ben-Gurion came to regard this vote as one of his greatest political triumphs. (26) As we shall see, the story of the first vote has almost entirely overshadowed the story of the second. (26) Yet, as we shall also see, the evidence that the first vote even took place is questionable5. (26) Not so for the second vote, in which, by five to four, the founders deliberately declined to be bound by the map of the Jewish state that had been included in the UN partition plan, or to delineate any borders for the state at all. (26) Ben-Gurion himself came to regard this latter vote as among his greatest political triumphs, and one he underlined time and time again. (26) There will always be a margin of uncertainty about the proceedings of May 12, but the truth probably most closely conforms to the description given by Shertok in his autobiographical anthology B’sha’ar Ha-ummot (“At the Gate of Nations,” 1956): “The decision to declare independence on Friday May 14, 1948 was taken unanimously in the session of the People’s Administration on May 12” (emphasis added). (26)

Before the Meeting in the Art Museum 14th May

One day before the British Mandate expired, Israel (60) OR The Jews of British Palestine (65) declared its independence within the borders of the Jewish State set out in the Partition Plan. (60)As head of the Jewish Agency from 1935, Ben-Gurion was de facto leader of Jewish population even before the state was declared. (34) In the early afternoon of May 14, Ben-Gurion presented the final draft of the declaration of statehood for approval by the People’s Council, the precursor of the Knesset, meeting in the same Tel Aviv headquarters of the Jewish National Fund. (26) Mention of the partition borders had disappeared from the draft. (26) But the decision to omit them had been carried by a narrow vote, and there was some chance that the issue might become a bone of contention in the larger body. (26) To forestall that, Ben-Gurion placed an unexpected spin on the May 12 decision: There was a proposal [in the People’s Administration] to determine borders. (26) And there was opposition to this proposal. (26) We decided to sidestep this question (I use this word deliberately), for a simple reason: if the UN upholds its resolutions and commitments and keeps the peace and prevents bombing and implements its resolution forcefully—we, for our part (and I speak on behalf of the entire people), will respect all of its resolutions. (26) Until now, the UN hasn’t done so, and the matter has fallen to us. (26) Therefore, not everything obligates us, and we left this issue open. (26) We didn’t say “No to the UN borders,” but we also didn’t say the opposite. (26) We left the question open to developments. (26) This was a masterstroke of wording. (26) The question of whether to commit to the partition borders in the declaration hadn’t been sidestepped at all. (26) It had been decided by a vote. (26) But the vote itself substituted ambiguity for certainty. (26) Until May 12, the state-in-waiting had been committed to the partition map. (26) After May 12, that commitment depended on the UN doing something it should have done, but hadn’t done, and likely wouldn’t do. (26) Ben-Gurion had created a new consensus—“of the entire people”—that the partition map might be revised. (26) Ben-Gurion had created a new consensus—“of the entire people”—that the partition map might be revised. (26) The members of the People’s Council passed the draft declaration of statehood on the first ballot by a large majority, and on the second ballot unanimously. (26) They then rushed to the Tel Aviv Museum (today, Independence Hall), where Ben-Gurion proclaimed the state of Israel. (26)

The Meeting in the Art Museum 14th May

In Tel Aviv, (6,19) earlier on May 14th, at 4:00 p.m (8,19) the Jewish People’s (16) OR National (19) Council gathered at the (16,19) little art (19) museum (16,19) on Rothschild Boulevard (19) in Tel Aviv. (16,19) the Jewish People’s Council gathered at the Tel Aviv Museum and proclaimed the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel. (21) The white-haired (19) 62-year-old (8,19) Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973) (8) had been born in Poland. (19) He had emigrated to Palestine as a young man in 1906, fought against the Turks in the British Army in the First World War and enjoyed a successful career as a trade union organiser and politician. (19) He had served as head of the pre-state government. (8) Now, as leader of the Jewish Council, (19) he read the (5,19) twenty minute long (19) Israeli Declaration of Independence (5,19) to an audience of some 200 people (19) OR to the public (5,19) on the new ‘Voice of Israel’ radio station in Tel Aviv. (19) OR to the Council (16,19) His statement announced the creation of the (1,2) provisional government of (12) the independent (1,2) state of Israel. (1,2) It was the first independent Jewish state in nineteen centuries of history. (19) Ben Gurion himself would be its first prime minister. (5,8) Although the April text wasn’t free of ambiguities, Ben-Gurion would insist in the May 12 meeting that “we already have a decision, taken in the Zionist Executive Council, that the state will begin to function on May 16, with the end of the mandate—that is, after May 15!” All in the room knew that if they didn’t declare the state, someone else would: Menachem Begin. (26) In his book, Sharef noted the sense around the table that “any deferment might provoke internal dissension, which would be likely to impair the yishuv (Jewish residents’) combative mood and the morale of its troops.” This “internal dissension” had an unspoken name: Menachem Begin, leader of the Irgun, who had promised to declare a state if the People’s Administration didn’t. (26) In early May, Begin had published a notice including precisely this warning: The Hebrew government will be established. (26) There is no maybe—it will rise. (26) If the official leadership establishes a government, we will back it. (26) But if the government gives in to threats, our forces and the majority of the land’s youth will back the free government that will grow from the underground. (26) Begin thus prepared two alternative messages for broadcast on May 16: the first, professing loyalty to the state if Ben-Gurion declared one; the second, declaring a state himself if Ben-Gurion did not. (26) Everyone in the room knew Begin’s intent. (26) Bechor-Shalom Sheetrit (representing the Sephardim) put it bluntly: “We are alert to the street and we know the mood there. (26) And if we now seem to go soft and retreat from what the street hopes from us, we’ll unleash war in the street.” Third, no one believed that the Arabs would accept a truce in any case. (26) This was “one point which won common assent,” recalled Sharef. (26) While Ben-Gurion outlined the disadvantages of a truce, he never let his listeners forget that discussion of it was entirely hypothetical, since no Arab partner existed. (26) Peretz Bernstein (General Zionists) made the argument even more forcefully: If I thought a truce was realistic, I’d be ready to consider it. … But there is no force that can guarantee it. … Who can promise and what guarantee could be given that the truce won’t be violated? … If the neighbouring countries have decided to invade, they won’t stop just because we cancel the declaration. (26) Neither the English nor the Americans have the power to prevent this [invasion], if it is as imminent as they think. … And if we now say that while yesterday we wanted the state but today we say there is no declaration and there is a truce, this will be an additional rationale for [the Arab states] to invade. (26) But fourth, and above all, there was no firm opposition to a declaration because the Jewish public and the Hebrew press expected and even demanded one. (26) The yishuv (Jewish residents) by this point in time were a coiled spring. (26) This is what Shertok meant when he told Secretary of State Marshall that “it was impossible to break the momentum.” Aharon Zisling (Mapam) extended the argument to include Jews everywhere: The Jews are now united as never before. (26) The splits of the past (and there were such splits) will widen, not narrow, if we wait. (26) When we are at war, the splits diminish. … We are at the pinnacle of the ascent, beyond which there is no further ascent, only descent. (26) We are liable to exhaust this force, and then we won’t benefit from its full power. (26) Besides, how could the Jewish residents’ leaders hesitate when, as Shertok informed the meeting, even the cautious Chaim Weizmann was clamouring for statehood “now or never”? So the ten wise men (plus Golda Meyerson, an observer) deliberated and debated, and some gave voice to their nagging doubts, but there was nothing to decide. (26) As another witness, the economist David Horowitz who later founded the Bank of Israel, would write in his memoirs: There was no other real alternative course. (26) It seemed that the narrow path on which we trod hadn’t been chosen by us of our own free will, but was imposed upon us by hidden forces, over which we had no influence. (26) The Council approved the proclamation, declaring the establishment of the State of Israel. (16) Full text At that point, the State of Israel came into existence. (11) On May 16th the thirty-seven council members of the provisional government elected the longtime advocate of Zionism (8,27) in Britain, (8) OR leader of the Zionist movement, (27) professor, scientist and statesman (57) Chaim Weizmann, (8,12) as President of the Provisional Council of the State. (57,58) OR Israel’s first president. (8,12)

After the Meeting

Ben Gurion said: (2,3) “Last night (2) the British Mandate for Palestine came to an (2,3) ignoble (2) end (2,3) after twenty-five years. (2) The Jews have set up their State and the Arabs have begun to cross the frontiers of Egypt, Syria and Transjordan. (2) A civil war will be transformed into a war between nations”. (2) The Zionist anthem, the Hatikvah (‘Hope’), was sung and at just after 4.30pm Ben-Gurion said: ‘The State of Israel has arisen. (19) This meeting is ended.’ (19) In his private diary he wrote, ‘I am filled with foreboding.’ (19) Dan Diner said that the new state was ‘not in Europe, but of Europe’. (23) This changed everything. (9) After fighting and winning their war of independence, Jews ‘decided to return to history, victims no more’. (9) OR Meanwhile, since the time of the British Mandate, the Jewish community in Palestine had been forming political, social and economic institutions that governed daily life in Palestine and served as a pre-state infrastructure. (8)6 David Ben-Gurion reorganized Haganah and made conscription obligatory. (21) Every Jewish man and woman in the country had to receive military training. (21) Ben Gurion announced that his government’s first act was the revocation of the British White Paper of 1939 limiting immigration, and of the British restrictions on land sales. (2,32) Haifa became the gateway for Jewish immigration into Israel. (48)



On that day the Manchester Guardian reported David Ben Gurion’s proclamation of independence, his appointment as Prime Minister, and the reaction of other countries to the creation of the Jewish state. (2) Despite growing conflict between Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews (10) and despite the Department of State’s (10,25) and Presidential (22) endorsement of a trusteeship, (10,22) Truman decided to recognize the state Israel. (10,21) Truman took this position over the strenuous objections of the State Department, the CIA, and the Pentagon. (25) He had reached the conclusion that partition was the right solution. (22) A very large number of Jews had emigrated there and dominated some areas in New York City. (18) Jewish influence was very strong and played a very important role in business. (18) Chaim Weizmann influenced the decision. (56,57) Despite having been removed from official leadership, Jewish people as a whole continued to revere him. (58) Early in 1948, he was sent to Washington by the Zionist leadership for crucial talks with Pres. Harry Truman. (58) Meeting with President Truman in March 1948, he impressed upon the President the importance of establishing a Jewish state. (57) He persuaded the United States administration both to drop its trusteeship plan for Palestine, which would have jeopardized founding the State of Israel. (58,59) His intervention also led to American recognition of the newly proclaimed state (May 14). (57,58) On 17th May Weizmann, who was in new York at his suite at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, accepted the position of President, which crowned his life’s work. (59) “I dedicate myself to the service of the land and people in whose cause I have been privileged to labour these many years,” he pledged in his message of acceptance. (59) His first official act of state was to visit President Truman on May 25th at the White House, where he appealed for funds to build the new country and an end of the arms embargo which kept the Jews from getting munitions from the United States. (59) He obtained a grant of a $100,000,000 (58,59) export-import (59) loan, (58,59) but no action was taken on the arms embargo. (59) The US administration supported the recommendation out of domestic electoral considerations (25) Truman’s political advisor, Clark Clifford, believed that the Jewish vote and contributions were essential to winning the upcoming presidential election, and that supporting the partition plan would garner that support. (25) (Truman’s opponent, Dewey, took similar stands for similar reasons.) (25) OR Truman said that his reason for supporting Israel had nothing to do with political self-preservation, but was in fact born out of compassion. (22) He famously declared

Hitler had been murdering Jews right and left. I saw it, and I dream about it even to this day. The Jews needed some place where they could go. It is my attitude that the American government couldn’t stand idly by while the victims [of] Hitler’s madness are not allowed to build new lives.” (22)

The Jewish vote was very important in presidential elections. (18) Truman’s Secretary of State George (25) Marshall was cynical of Truman’s conversion to Israeli independence suspecting the president of trying to win Jewish support in the upcoming election. (22,25) He condemned what he called a “transparent dodge to win a few votes,” which would cause “[t]he great dignity of the office of President [to be] seriously diminished.” (25) He told President Truman in May 1948, “If you (recognize the state of Israel) and if I were to vote in the election, I would vote against you.” (22,25) Marshall wrote that the counsel offered by Clifford “was based on domestic political considerations, while the problem which confronted us was international. (25) The United States hadn’t recognized Israel’s borders. (26) It simply “recognize[d] the provisional government as the de-facto authority of the new state of Israel,” (26) eleven minutes after its founding. (8)


For whatever reason, the post-World War II era’s premier powers — (8) the United States and the Soviet Union — recognized the young state (3,8) on the following day. (8,45) OR (in the case of the USA), making the United States the first country to do so. (24) OR “within minutes”. (11) OR that night (16) OR ultimately (10) OR (in the case of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin Soviet Union) Immediately (21) OR “almost immediately”. (11) OR Within two days. (12) OR three days later. (16) On 14th May 1947, the Soviet ambassador Andrei Gromyko announced: “As we know, the aspirations of a considerable part of the Jewish people are linked with the problem of Palestine and of its future administration. (45) This fact scarcely requires proof. (45) During the last war, the Jewish people underwent exceptional sorrow and suffering. (45) The United Nations cannot and must not regard this situation with indifference, since this would be incompatible with the high principles proclaimed in its Charter. (45) The fact that no Western European State has been able to ensure the defence of the elementary rights of the Jewish people and to safeguard it against the violence of the fascist executioners explains the aspirations of the Jews to establish their own State. (45) It would be unjust not to take this into consideration and to deny the right of the Jewish people to realize this aspiration.” Shortly after this speech, the Soviet media temporarily stopped publishing anti-Zionist material. (45) The Soviet Union granted de jure recognition (11,45) On May 17th (45) 1948, (11,45) three days after Israel declared independence (45)

United Nations

The UN agreed to recognise Israel as a state. (22) It followed this policy and gave support to the UN plan to partition the British Mandate of Palestine, which led to the founding of the State of Israel. (45), the Soviet Union legally recognized it de jure, becoming the first country to grant de jure recognition to the Jewish state. (45)


The Indian National Congress government opposed Zionism. (27) Some writers have claimed that this was done in order to get more Muslim votes in India (where Muslims numbered over 30 million at the time). However, conservative Hindu nationalists, led by the Sangh Parivar, openly supported Zionism, as did Hindu Nationalist intellectuals like Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Sita Ram Goel. Zionism, seen as a national liberation movement for the repatriation of the Jewish people to their homeland then under British colonial rule, appealed to many Hindu Nationalists, who viewed their struggle for independence from British rule and the Partition of India as national liberation for long-oppressed Hindus. (27) An international opinion survey has shown that India is the most pro-Israel country in the world. (27) In more current times, conservative Indian parties and organizations tend to support Zionism. (27) This has invited attacks on the Hindutva movement by parts of the Indian left opposed to Zionism, and allegations that Hindus are conspiring with the “Jewish Lobby.” (27)

Other states

Seven other states recognised Israel within the next five days (Guatemala, Byelorussia, the Ukraine, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Uruguay, and Yugoslavia7). (11) By December 31st, 1948, 20 states had accorded it recognition. (11)

Reluctant recognisers

Official recognition from many other nations took longer; Spain, for example, did not establish diplomatic relations with Israel until 1986. (3) Many of Israel’s neighbours, meanwhile, as well as more than a score of other countries around the world, from Afghanistan and Algeria to North Korea, Somalia, Yemen and beyond, have never officially recognized Israel, while others that shared diplomatic relations have, at one time or another, suspended or broken ties completely over the years. (3) The long-cherished Zionist dream of a Jewish national home had come true at last. (19) On the other hand in 1948 New York Second world conference of the International Jewish Labor Bund condemned the proclamation of the Jewish state, because the decision exposed the Jews in Palestine to danger. (13) The conference was in favour of a binational state built on the base of national equality and democratic federalism. (13) A one-state, one-nation solution where Arabic-speaking Palestinians would adopt a Hebrew-speaking Israeli identity (although not necessarily the Jewish religion) was advocated within Israel by the Canaanite movement of the 1940s and 1950s, as well as more recently in the Engagement Movement led by Tsvi Misinai. (13)

The 1948 Arab-Israeli War

There was great rejoicing in Tel Aviv, (18) and the Western world regarded the creation of Israel in May 1948 as a triumph for humanity – the righting for Jews of the terrible wrong of the Holocaust – but Israel’s Arab neighbours saw the event as a disaster. (17) If relations in pre-war Palestine had been fraught with difficulties, these difficulties paled into insignificance after Israel became a state in its own right. (14) Inter-communal fighting had preceded the declaration but (4) until now the Israelis had faced only Palestinian Arab militias. (26) The civil strife now culminated in a major military conflict. (23,60) as fighting with all the surrounding countries ensued. (1,4) From the moment of its birth (14,19) OR on the following day (5,18) 15th May 1948 (23) war (4,5) with the Arab League (19) erupted. (4,5) OR intensified. (20) The Arab governments (17,18) and the Palestinian Arabs (17) rejected both the concept of partition and the terms of the resolution and decided to oppose it by force. (17,18) The Arabs called the declaration of the State of Israel “al-Nakba”, the catastrophe. (4,13) OR this was their term for the defeat they subsequently suffered. (13,60) OR it referred to the exodus of refugees. (27) The Arabs were determined to wipe out all the Jewish settlements in Palestine, (19) and the Jews realized they would be massacred if they lost, and fought with absolute determination to prevent another Holocaust. (64) There was already fighting in Jerusalem and elsewhere, and a state of emergency was declared to exist in the first order of the day to be issued by a Jewish military commander of Jerusalem for 2,000 years. (19) The Jews called it the War of Independence. (13,25) This war between Israel and the Arab League lasted from May 1948 until July 1949. (12) OR the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. (13) Israel fought a war of survival with the Arab states who immediately invaded the new nation. (5,7) In the position of national leader, Ben-Gurion played a major role in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. (34) During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War Ben-Gurion oversaw the nascent state’s military operations. (34) During the first weeks of Israel’s independence, he ordered all militias to be replaced by one national army, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). (34) To that end, Ben-Gurion used a firm hand during the Altalena Affair, a ship carrying arms purchased by the Irgun led by Menachem Begin. (34) He insisted that all weapons be handed over to the IDF. (34) When fighting broke out on the Tel Aviv beach he ordered it be taken by force and to shell the ship. (34) Sixteen Irgun fighters and three IDF soldiers were killed in this battle. (34) Following the policy of a unified military force, he also ordered that the Palmach headquarters be disbanded and its units be integrated with the rest of the IDF, to the chagrin of many of its members. (34) By absorbing the Irgun force into Israel’s IDF, the Israelis eliminated competition and the central government controlled all military forces within the country. (34) His attempts to reduce the number of Mapam members in the senior ranks led to the “Generals’ Revolt” in June 1948. (34) Once Israel was established, Stalin reversed positions, favoured the Arabs, arrested the leaders of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, and launched attacks on Jews in the USSR. (27) In Jerusalem the American diplomats were under pressure: “there began a period of one month in which really we were under siege — the whole of Jerusalem really. (24) The Arab Legion had occupied the Old City and were lobbing mortar shells into the New City. (24) We lived there at the Consulate General with our own generator. (24) We had a naval communications unit, which was just across an alley way in a convent. (24) We had this sort of guard force that would shoot street lights out and do all sorts of things. (24) During that period we had a number of casualties. (24) One of the naval communicators at one point was walking behind the Consulate General, I don’t know why he was there after dark, and, of course, ran across a patrol, we don’t know whether it was Jews or Arabs, and was shot. (24) He eventually died. (24) Two of the guards, two young men, heard screams and went out behind the Consulate into this no-man’s land and brought Walker, I think that was his name, back into the Consulate. (24) We had a U.S. Public Health doctor, Jeff Freyman, assigned to the Consulate General at that time. (24) He was able to give first aid and got him into a hospital. (24) Eventually, I am sorry to say, Walker died. (24) The Consul General, Tom Wasson, was a member of the Security Council Truce Commission which was composed of the United States, France, and Belgium, as I remember, and was supposed to keep in touch with the Jewish and Arab communities, with the idea of somehow getting a truce from the fighting that was going on, which was very widespread. (24)

The Balance of Forces

Military background of Arabs

The Palestinians had no infrastructure and no military training, and were attacked and massacred repeatedly by Jewish gangs. (63) The Arab nations that attacked Israel faced one major problem. (14) OR more than one. (18) The Arab armies were inexperienced (18) and divided (14,18) OR ‘they were united’. (13) There was nothing to co-ordinate their attacks. (14) Each essentially attacked as a separate unit rather than as a combined force. (14,18)

Military Background of Jews

The Jews had planned for the war, had organized both politically and militarily, (23,63) had strong support abroad and were in a much more favourable position when war came. (63) OR The Israeli forces started out on the defensive: (12,23) with such a combined force attacking Israel, few would have given the new country any chance of survival. (14,18) The Jewish community in Palestine had long had state-like structures and armed militias at its disposal. (23) Israel had the nucleus of an air force (23) and a navy. (14,23) Many in her army were (14,67) experienced in combat as a result of World War Two, (14,67) having served in the British wartime Jewish Brigade. (67) They were key participants in the new State of Israel’s Israel Defense Forces. (67) The Jews had artillery and a general staff that was responsible for the whole area. (23)

Resources for the Jews

They did not get arms from America. (22,59) In December 1947 the State Department had announced that the United States Government was discontinuing the licensing of arms to Palestine. (22) The Haganah had some utility in the defence of kibbutzims and things of that sort. (24) It was a sort of unofficial army. (24) Haganah got weapons by stealing from British ammunition depots and things of that sort. (24) The Israeli side was clearly the weaker one, both in regards to numbers (18,23) OR Their armed forces outnumbered all the Arab armies. (25,63) OR The numbers of soldiers on both sides were about equal. (18) At the height of the 1948 War, Israel’s army numbered 100,000, (14) Israelis (18,19) were surprisingly well equipped at a military level, (14) because, (18,19) thanks to funds raised by Golda Meir from sympathisers in the United States, and Stalin’s decision to support the Zionist cause, the Jewish representatives of Palestine were able to purchase important arms in Eastern Europe. (21) From January 1948 onward, (23) the Zionists bought weapons in Czechoslovakia (23,45) including thousands of guns and bombs as well as dozens of fighter planes. (23) They also got arms from France (19) and the USA, (18) where they acquired three B-17 bombers on the black market. (14) In July 1948, these were used to bomb the Egyptian capital, Cairo. (14) OR They had been able to buy large supplies of modern equipment from abroad: (18,19) and had acquired massive weaponry, some of it through a widespread network of illicit gunrunning operations in the US under a number of front groups. (25) It also had superior equipment, (12,14) training, (18) experience, (14,18) organization (17) command structure (14) and fighting ability, (12) The Israeli regular army had to be used to disband Irgun and the Stern Gang. (14) Both of these had been classed as terrorist organisations by the British in pre-war Palestine. (14) David Ben-Gurion, Prime Minister and Defence Minister wanted the Israeli army to remain non-political and using a combination of diplomacy and force, he removed both groups as a threat. (14) The leaders of both groups were arrested but members of them did join the army. (14) OR the Jewish forces were not a state before 15th May (21) OR because of the US embargo (22,59) they could not buy heavy arms, (21) and had barely a weapon to repel these armies, in place since the previous December. (22) OR Unlike the Arabs, who believed they had already won, the Israelis were aware of their perilous situation. (23) It wasn’t until JFK in 1962 that America sold arms to Israel. (22)

Resources for the Arabs

The attack on Israel was a surprise one, (14,23) The Zionist intelligence services were completely in the dark: they did not know when or even if the Arabs would attack. (23) The Arabs heavily outnumbered the Israelis (18,24) by a factor of 80 to 1. (18) The Arabs had (mainly British) critical heavy military hardware at their disposal and were initially on the offensive. (21)

International points of view


The American diplomatic community was divided on the merits of the cases: the disagreements between our representative in Tel Aviv, James McDonald, and our representatives in the Arab countries was worse than the fighting, because those in Arab countries took one side and McDonald the other. (24)

Communist Bloc

It was a miracle the state survived and it did so largely from the favour of Soviet states. (22) Communist (22) Czechoslovakia (19,21) violated the resolution, (21) hastily supplying (19,21) the Jewish state with arms to match what the Arabs had. (21) OR the few arms Israel had. (22)


On 29th May 1948, the British initiated United Nations Security Council Resolution 50 declaring an arms embargo on the region. (21) By the end of June, 1948 the remaining British forces left Haifa. (44)

Military movements

Initial Arab invasions

As dawn broke (19) on May 15th, (13,19) five (23,61) Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon (5,7) and Saudi Arabia (18) OR seven (27) including Transjordan8 (5,13) OR Jordan (7) armies of the Arab League (23) OR Arab volunteers of the Arab Liberation Army entered Palestine to fight alongside the Palestinians (67) declared war on the newly formed State of Israel (60) and crossed the borders into Israel (23,67) to invade the nascent state, (5,7) and wipe out the “Zionist creation”, (23) albeit not to defend the Palestinians: (7,63) OR to support the Palestinian Arab population. (67) Arab “aid” consisted primarily of attempted land grabs by other Arab countries of Palestinian land. (63) Iraq and Syria later declared war on Israel, as well. (5,7) The Iraqis marched a division into Palestine. (24) Syrian (5,24) and Lebanese (5) troops moved into the north of Israel, (5,24) while Iraqi units and (5) Other Arab units were deployed to Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley and later in the Galilee. (5) A vicious conflict followed. (7)

Jordan and the West Bank

Transjordan’s British trained ‘Arab Legion’ invaded Palestine from Jordan and entered Jerusalem, (13,23) taking control of territory designated for the future Arab State, (67) the West Bank, (23,24) including East Jerusalem and its holy sites of Jews, Christians and Muslims. (23) focused their attack on Jerusalem, (5,24) occupying (23,24) (sc. annexing (65)) the Old City. (24) Jerusalem was a highly contested territory, (5,24) between the Jordanian and Israeli forces, (67) and the battles for it were costly for the Haganah, the new Israeli army. (5) Several American diplomats witnessed it first-hand. (24) It also managed to secure, (67) in the Battle of Latrun, (34,67) a road linking Jerusalem to Israel. (67) On 24th September, an incursion made by Palestinian irregulars in the Latrun sector (killing 23 Israeli soldiers) precipitated a debate as to what should be done about the West Bank. (34) On 26th September, David Ben-Gurion put his argument to the Cabinet to attack Latrun again and conquer the whole or a large part of West Bank. (34) The motion was rejected by 5 votes to 7 after discussions. (34) Ben-Gurion qualified the cabinet’s decision as bechiya ledorot (“a source of lament for generations”) considering Israel may have lost forever the Old City of Jerusalem. (34) There is a controversy around these events. (34) According to Uri Bar-Joseph, Ben-Gurion placed a plan that called for a limited action aimed at the conquest of Latrun, and not for an all-out offensive. (34) According to David Tal, in the cabinet meeting, Ben-Gurion reacted to what he had been just told by a delegation from Jerusalem. (34) He points out that this view he would have planned to conquest West Bank is unsubstantiated in both Ben-Gurion’s diary and in the Cabinet protocol. (34) The topic came back at the end of the 1948 war, when General Yigal Allon also proposed the conquest of the West Bank up to the Jordan River as the natural, defensible border of the state. (34) This time, Ben-Gurion refused although he was aware that the IDF was militarily strong enough to carry out the conquest. (34) He feared the reaction of Western powers and wanted to maintain good relations with the United States and not to provoke the British. (34) Moreover, in his opinion the results of the war were already satisfactory and Israeli leaders had to focus on the building of a nation. (34) “Ben-Gurion got cold feet during the war. … If had carried out a large expulsion and cleansed the whole country -the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan River. (34) It may yet turn out that this was his fatal mistake. (34) If he had carried out a full expulsion rather than a partial one- he would have stabilized the State of Israel for generations.” (34)

Arab successes

The Arab armies were more successful than is generally believed: (23,19) Egyptian planes bombed Tel Aviv, (19) the Egyptians conquered the Gaza Strip (23,24) including Majdal, (Ashkelon). (46) By July, 1948, much of the Negev was still controlled by the Egyptian army. (5)

Israeli Counter attacks

The young state of Israel was able to hold its own against its neighbours, however. (23) If Israel had faltered at this first hurdle, she would have ceased to exist as a state regardless of what the United Nations had decreed. (14) Jews soon, (12,19) after 10 days (34) gained the upper hand (12,19) OR the April–May offensive defeated the Arab forces (67) it was not until the summer of 1948 that the Israelis were able to push back the Arab armies (23) Over the next few months, Haifa was subjected to Israeli air-raids and shelling. (46) All but about 1,000 of the town’s residents were forced to leave by the time it was captured by Israeli forces as a sequel to Operation Yoav on 4th November 1948. (46) The battles continued to rage. (5) In a series of military operations, during the war Israel conquered the whole of the Galilee region, both the Lydda and Ramle areas, and the Negev. (67) The Israeli forces defeated the Palestinian militias and Arab armies, (1,7) on all the war fronts. (14,20) This created the Palestinian nakba, the collapse and disappearance of an entire society that was politically, militarily, and culturally unprepared for the collision with Zionism, colonialism, and war. (20) The Israelis overran far more territory than was proposed by the Partition Plan (65) and so were able to expand the territory awarded to them by the United Nations. (23,64) Israel now occupied all the territory of Palestine, (18) making the country an established reality. (11) Control of Haifa was a critical objective in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, as it was the country’s major industrial port. (44) During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the neighborhoods of Haifa were sometimes contested. (48) In 1949, the Israelis extended their territory. (4,14) leaving Jordan with the West Bank, Egypt with Gaza and Jerusalem divided. (4)

Refugee issue during the war

David Ben-Gurion, the Prime Minister of Israel, wavered between moral- and security-based considerations in relation to the Arab population. (23) His advisors provided him with highly ambivalent recommendations. (23) Based on a proposal by the ministry of agriculture, the army instructed the Israeli troops to not carry out evictions beyond the immediate battle areas. (23) There was still local displacement, however, (20,23) Arabs fled from their homes or were expelled (23) and Palestinian civilians became refugees. (7,13) The process intensified. (20) Yitzhak Rabin, then a young Jewish commander, would later write in his memoir of how he was ordered by David Ben-Gurion—literally with the wave of a hand—to “drive out” the 50,000 civilians in the towns of Lydda and Ramla on June 10 and 11. (20) Arab Palestinian society collapsed (67) OR as many as 2,000 Christians and 1,300 (44) OR 2,500 (46) Muslims were still living in Haifa by June 1948. (44,46) In what is known as the Nakba, or “Catastrophe”, (20,65) in this first Arab-Israeli War in 1948/1949 (23) over 70,000 Palestinian homes, and hundreds of Palestinian villages, were ruined and destroyed. (65) The overwhelming majority, (20) hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had fled or had been driven out: (4,7) some (24,67) 700,000 (7,24) OR over 700,000 (13,17) OR about 711,000 (27) OR 725,000 (17) OR 600,000–750,000 (23) OR about 800,000 (18) OR perhaps 700,000 to 800,000 (20,17,18) OR between 700,000 and 900,000 Palestinians (61) OR More than 7 million (66) fled or were forced to leave their homes. (61,64) In Haifa (?) General Yigal Allon ordered the expulsion of the remaining Palestinians but the local commanders did not do so and the Arab population soon recovered to more than 2,500 due mostly to refugees slipping back and also due to the transfer of Palestinians from nearby villages. (46) Most of them were elderly, women, or children. (46) During the next year or so, the Palestinians were held in a confined area surrounded by barbed wire, which became commonly known as the “ghetto”. (46) On the one hand, individual Jewish mayors and local commanders called on the Arabs to stay. (23) On the other, about a third of the Arab refugees were expelled from the Jewish-controlled areas in the wake of the fighting. (23) Another third of the Arabs panicked and fled the Israelis’ psychological warfare. (23) The last third of the refugees left the disputed territories more or less “voluntarily” (even though they did not live in the combat zones). (23) They were also frightened by the alarmist appeals from Arab notables. (23,64) They were ordered and cajoled by their leaders and the Arab states, in order to make room for conquering Arab armies, (64) with the expectation of a glorious return (20,23) “after the victory over the Zionists”. (23) OR no matter what the outcome. (20) This was a complete delusion. (20)

United Nations Mediation

The United Nations attempted to mediate. (12,19) Continued UN efforts finally led to a series of armistices between Israel and the Arab League Nations. (5,12) On 11th June, a month-long UN truce was put into effect. (21,67) Israel used the lull to undertake a large-scale reinforcement of its army. (67) Another United Nations effort at mediation led to (12) an uneasy truce between July (5,12) 18th (5) and October (12) During the truce the UN mediator (12) Swedish (25) Count Folke Bernadotte, (12) who had previously rescued thousands of Jews from the Nazis, was dispatched to negotiate an end to the violence. (25) He had been appointed a week after the Declaration of the State of Israel on May 20th, 1948, (12) and was assassinated by Zionists (12,25) terrorists on September 17th. (12) In the autumn of 1948, Israel applied for membership in the United Nations but failed to win the necessary majority in the Security Council. (11)


The 1948 war, which the Israelis referred to as the “War of Independence”, (14) claimed 6,000 Israeli lives (6,18) – but this was only 1% of the nation’s population. (14) The boost the victory gave to the Israelis was huge and put into perspective the 6,000 lives lost. (14) Ironically, those nations that had attacked Israel in May 1948, only lost slightly more men – 7,000. (14) However, the damage to their morale was considerable. (14) In this phase, 350,000 more Arab Palestinians fled or were expelled from the conquered areas. (67)

The Armistice Settlement

The partition line, known today as the “Green Line”, was established in 1949 by the Rhodes armistice agreement. (23) Ashkelon was formally granted to Israel in the 1949 Armistice Agreements. (46) Such a settlement could only be at the expense of the Arab population that lived in these areas. (14) Although the 650,000 Jews in Palestine owned only 7% of the land, (17) the UN partition had promised (7,17) 56 % (7) OR 55% (17,26) of British Palestine for the Jewish state. (7,17) By contrast the 1.2 million Palestinian Arabs would receive 45%. (17) The abandoned British police post of Umm Al-Rashrash near Eilat was taken without a fight on March 10th 1949, as part of Operation Uvda. (47) At the end of the war, Israel possessed 77% (7,17) OR 78% (26) —everything except the West Bank and the eastern quarter of Jerusalem (controlled by Jordan), as well as the Gaza Strip (controlled by Egypt), while the Arabs had 23%. (7) The Arab powers were forced to negotiate an armistice (19) OR armistices (14) in 1949, (19) but refused to negotiate directly with Israel. (5) OR The Arab nations involved negotiated their own peace talks (14,18) – a further sign that they were only united by their desire to attack Israel. (14) The American diplomats were involved. (24) (See Appendix 7) The United Nations Security Council called for a permanent armistice on December 29th 1948. (5) Egypt signed a peace settlement in February (14) OR January (18) 1949, (14,18) and over the next few months Lebanon, Jordan and Syria did the same (14) culminating in peace in July 1949. (14,18) Iraq simply withdrew her forces but did not sign any peace settlement. (14) The Israelis were left with a state, but not the Palestinians. (7)

Israel after the war

Israel became a country on a permanent war footing, (18) Israel, which claims to be the “only democracy in the Middle East,” decided (25) not to declare official borders or (23,25) to write a constitution, a situation which continues to this day. (25) The Arab blockade made Eilat and its sea port crucial to Israel’s communications, commerce and trade with Africa and Asia, and for oil imports. (47) In addition, Israel had internal problems regardless of what was happening on its borders. (14) She had to absorb the shiploads of immigrants coming in daily to the Jewish homeland. (8) Many were penniless refugees from Europe broken in body and in spirit. (8) They needed immediate health and social services in addition to acculturation to their new home. (8) Without recourse to a port on the Red Sea Israel would have been unable to develop its diplomatic, cultural and trade ties beyond the Mediterranean basin and Europe. (47)

Arab policy towards Israel

On the same day that the State of Israel was announced, the Arab League announced that it would set up a single Arab civil administration throughout Palestine, and launched an attack on the new Israeli state. (67) The All-Palestine Government (65,67) was established by the Arab League (67) and announced at Ashkelon in Gaza (65) in September 1948. (65,67) It was soon recognized by all Arab League members, except Jordan9. (67) On December 1st, 1948, at a Palestine Arab Congress (12,13) at Jericho (12,67) King Abdullah of Jordan was proclaimed sovereign of all Palestine, (12,13) as “King of Arab Palestine”. (67) The Congress called for the union of Arab Palestine and Transjordan and Abdullah announced his intention to annex the West Bank. (67) The other Arab League member states opposed Abdullah’s plan. (67) The New Historians, like Avi Shlaim, hold that there was an unwritten secret agreement between King Abdullah of Transjordan and Israeli authorities to partition the territory between themselves, and that this translated into each side limiting their objectives and exercising mutual restraint during the 1948 war. (67) The presence of a large number of immigrants and refugees from the now dissolved Mandate of Palestine fueled the regional ambitions of King Abdullah I, who sought control over what had been the British Jerusalem and Samaria districts on the west bank of Jordan River. (67) Towards this goal the king granted Jordanian citizenship to all Arab holders of the Palestinian Mandate identity documents in February 1949, and outlawed the terms “Palestinian” and “Transjordanian” from official usage, changing the country’s name from the Emirate of Trans-Jordan to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. (67) The area east of the river became known as “al-Ḍiffah al-Sharqiyyal”, or “The East Bank”. (67) Though jurisdiction of the Government was declared to cover the whole of the former Mandatory Palestine, its effective jurisdiction was limited to the Gaza Strip. (67) The Prime Minister of the Gaza-seated administration was named Ahmed Hilmi Pasha, and the President was named Hajj Amin al-Husseini, former chairman of the Arab Higher Committee. (67) The All-Palestine Government is regarded by some as the first attempt to establish an independent Palestinian state. (67) The neighbouring Arab countries signed the 1949 Armistice Agreements that ended the war. (67) After the war the Arabs did not recognize the State of Israel. (23) For them, it was merely an armistice line, which was only valid until the next armed conflict. (23) They recognized de facto the new borders of Israel. (23,67) The Arabs say that there can never be a settlement without Israel recognizing its guilt and providing appropriate redress. (63) There were no actual treaties afterwards, (18) so it was clear that this was no more than a cessation of hostilities. (18,23) Another attack could be expected at any time. (18,23) Arab countries maintained a state of hostility with Israel, blocking all land routes; Israel’s access to and trade with the rest of the world was by air and sea alone. (47) Further, Egypt denied passage through the Suez Canal to Israeli-registered ships or to any ship carrying cargo to or from Israeli ports. (47) In April 1950, with the formal annexation of the positions held by the Jordanian Army since 1948, the area became known as “al-Ḍiffah al-Gharbiyyal” or “The Western Bank”. (67) With the formal union of the East and West Banks in 1950, the number of Palestinians in the kingdom rose by another 720,000, of whom 440,000 were West Bank residents and 280,000 were refugees from other areas of the former Mandate then living on the West Bank. (67) Palestinians became the majority in Jordan although most believed their return to what was now the state of Israel was imminent. The All-Palestine Government was shortly moved from Gaza to Cairo (65) under official Egyptian protection, but, on the other hand, it had no executive role, but rather mostly political and symbolic. (67) Gaza was taken into Egyptian military administration until 1967. (64) Egypt, however, both formally and informally denounced any and all territorial claims to Palestinian territory, in contrast to the government of Transjordan, which declared its annexation of the Palestinian West Bank. (67) Its importance gradually declined, especially due to relocation of seat of government from Gaza to Cairo following the Israeli invasion in late 1948. (67) Though Gaza Strip returned under Egyptian control later on through the war, the All-Palestine Government remained in-exile in Cairo, managing Gazan affairs from outside. (67) The All-Palestine Government’s credentials as a bona fide sovereign state were questioned by many, particularly due to the effective reliance upon not only Egyptian military support, but Egyptian political and economic power. (67) It was eventually dissolved in 1959 (64,67) by Egyptian President Nasser. (64) The All-Palestine Government was officially merged into the United Arab Republic, coming under formal Egyptian military administration, with the appointment of Egyptian military administrators in Gaza. (67)

Refugee issue after the war

Arab people who call this territory home are known as Palestinians, and the people of Palestine have a strong desire to create a free and independent state in a contested region of the world that’s considered sacred by many groups. (61) OR It was only after the Jews re-inhabited their historic homeland of Judea and Samaria, that the myth of an Arab Palestinian nation was created and marketed worldwide. (62) Jews come from Judea, not Palestinians. (62) There is no language known as Palestinian, or any Palestinian culture distinct from that of all the Arabs in the area. (62) There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. (62) “Palestinians” are Arabs indistinguishable from Arabs throughout the Middle East. (62) The great majority of Arabs in greater Palestine and Israel share the same culture, language and religion. (62) Much of the Arab population in this area actually migrated into Israel and Judea and Samaria from the surrounding Arab countries in the past 100 years. (62) The Palestinian people have never ceased to protest against the illegality and immorality of their expulsion, and Palestinians continue to identify themselves as belonging to their real homes in Palestine. (63) They fled from Palestine to neighbouring countries, (18) but the Arab states repeatedly betrayed the Palestinians, (63) and only grudgingly gave them space (18,63) in squalid (18) refugee camps. (18,63) Palestinians in other Arab countries are as much in exile as anywhere else. (63) This created the Palestinian refugee problem, which was to be at the heart of Middle Eastern affairs for the next fifty years. (18) Such direct testimony as exists indicated that many refugees left in fear as the fighting intensified. (17) Others were “encouraged” to leave by Israeli psychological warfare, and a substantial number were expelled by the Israeli army, sometimes brutally. (17) The Palestinians who remained in what was now a Jewish state made up around 18 % of the population of Israel, and for the next 20 years lived under martial law. (20) The society the Palestinians had composed over the centuries was, for the most part, now gone. (20) Towns and villages were renamed or bulldozed. (20) Property was expropriated en masse through various legal mechanisms. (20) And, most importantly, whether Palestinians fled or were expelled, virtually none were allowed to return (20,64) following the Lausanne Conference, 1949. (65) The question of the Palestinian right to return of the refugees and their descendants remains a source of dispute. (65) The Israeli decision to prevent refugees from returning was justified, as otherwise Israel would be destroyed by a hostile Arab internal majority. (63) A core Palestinian demand in peace negotiations is some kind of justice for these refugees, most commonly in the form of the “right of return” to the homes their families abandoned in 1948. (66) Despite a number of UN resolutions calling for repatriation of the refugees after the fighting stopped, (17) the Israelis refused to permit it. (17,27) A series of laws passed later, by the first Israeli government prevented Palestinians from returning to their homes, or claiming their property. (27) Israel can’t accept the right of return without abandoning either its Jewish or democratic identity. (66) Adding 7 million Arabs to Israel’s population would make Jews a minority — Israel’s total population is about 8 million, a number that includes the 1.5 million Arabs already there. (66) The Israelis tended to emphasize the security problem that the return of the refugees would create, but the political problem was perhaps greater. (17) Approximately 42% of the population of the area allocated to the Jewish state by the partition resolution was Arab, and, given differences in population-growth rates, the Arabs would soon have outnumbered the Jews. (17) So Israelis refuse to even consider including the right to return in any final status deal. (66) As it is, the 150,000 Arabs allowed to remain in the area controlled by Israel, plus their descendants, now number nearly one million. (17) They were gone, and the new Israeli state regarded their absence as the godsend that allowed a Jewish-majority country to suddenly emerge. (20) But the nakba defined, and continues to define, Palestinian national identity. (20) While Palestinians do have cultural features that distinguish them from other Arabs, it is their history and, above all, the nakba and its never-ending aftermath, which firmly separates them from all other Arabs. (20) All Palestinians, including those left behind in Israel, shared this experience. (20) And given that most Palestinians today are either exiles, refugees, or living under Israeli occupation—or, at best, live as second-class citizens of Israel itself—their collective social, political, and historical identity centres almost entirely around the shattering experience of the nakba. (20) No other group of Arabs endured this. (20) Moshe Dayan and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion were in favour of the expulsion of the Arabs who had sneaked back into Ashkelon and were living in the ghetto there. (46) Mapam and the Israeli labor union Histadrut objected. (46) The government offered the Palestinians positive inducements to leave, including a favourable currency exchange, but also caused panic through night-time raids. (46) The first group was deported to the Gaza Strip by truck on 17 August 1950 after an expulsion order had been served. (46) The deportation was approved by Ben-Gurion and Dayan over the objections of Pinhas Lavon, secretary-general of the Histadrut, who envisioned the town as a productive example of equal opportunity. (46) Bnei Zion Hospital (formerly Rothschild Hospital) and the Central Synagogue in Hadar Hacarmel date from this period. (48) In 1953, a master plan was created for transportation and the future architectural layout. (48) The refugee camps became the training grounds for the freedom fighters or ‘Fedayeen’. (18) Attacks began almost immediately upon targets in Israel. (18) In 1951, 137 Israelis were killed and in 1955 238 were killed. (18)

Jewish Refugees and the Law of Return

During and after the 1948 war, a wave of (24,64) of about 700,000 (24) Jewish refugees from Arab countries arrived in the newly created state of Israel. (24,64) After the war, Jewish immigrants were settled in new neighborhoods (18,48) in Haifa, among them Kiryat Hayim, Ramot Remez, Ramat Shaul, Kiryat Sprinzak, and Kiryat Eliezer. (48) Many of these were in areas that Israel had occupied during the war of 1948-9. (18,45) This was a further source of anger for Arabs. (18) In 1950, the Law of Return gave every Jew the right to return to Israel. (18) The population rose rapidly as a result. (18) The Israeli government tried to encourage more immigration in an effort to increase the Israeli population. (18)

Consolidation of Israel

Thus, as it turned out, the Jews, who had favoured Partition to create a nation out of half the territory, got the whole thing. (24) OR 78 % of Palestine. (25) There was great support for the new state of Israel in the USA. (18) General elections were held on January 25th, 1949: the provisional State Council was replaced by an elected Parliament (Knesset) and the Provisional Government by a regular parliamentary Government. (11) Chaim Weizmann was a world-famous scientist, a statesman, leader of a forceful political movement, an intellectual and, above all, a great humanitarian. (59) His personal relationships with key figures in British political circles were instrumental in the de facto (57) recognition of Israel by (11,57) the former Mandatory Power (11) Britain (11,57)on January (11,57) 29th (11) 1949 (11,57) and de jure in April 1950. (57) This also recognized the end of British efforts to affect the course of the region’s politics. (11) De jure recognition by the United States was extended on January 31st, 1949 after the permanent government was sworn in. (11) In February 1949 – a month after Israel’s first general elections – (58,59) a special session of the Knesset (57) elected Chaim Weizmann the first President of the State of Israel. (57,58) After the swearing-in ceremony in Jerusalem on February 16th, Weizmann’s home in Rehovot became the official residence of the President of the State of Israel. (57) In the three-quarters of a century through which he lived, he had experienced every emotion: reward, for priceless scientific achievement; despair, when the great prize seemed lost, and triumph, when the prize–his lifelong dream of a Jewish home in Palestine–was achieved. (59) OR A man of action all his life, President Weizmann was disappointed by the mainly ceremonial role assigned to the President. (57) Israel renewed its application for membership in the United Nations. (11) On March 4th, 1949, the Security Council recommended to the General Assembly that it be admitted. (11) In April 1949 President Weizmann visited the United States. (57) Met by crowds of record-breaking size, he mobilized an unprecedented $23 million in contributions for the State of Israel and for the fledgling scientific research facility which now bears his name – the Weizmann Institute of Science. (57) On May 11th, Israel was admitted, to become the 59th member. (11) By then Israel had been recognised by 32 more states. (11) Many strong men and women, people of great courage, skill and ability, had contributed to the growth of Israel. (59) His life epitomized the task of all of them in transforming Palestinian deserts into sections of rolling forests, lush olive and orange groves, irrigation and water- power projects, and centres of science and industry in the undeveloped Middle East. (59)

Arab-Israeli relations soured

Israel is the world’s only Jewish state, located just east of the Mediterranean Sea. (66) Palestinians, the Arab population that hails from the land Israel now controls, refer to the territory as Palestine, and want to establish a state by that name on all or part of the same land. (66) The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is over who gets what land and how it’s controlled. (66) In the summer of 1949 there was no obvious leader in the Arab world who could head a campaign by the Arabs. (14) Egypt seemed the most likely leader if only because of her size. (14) The scene was set for almost perpetual conflict between the Arab nations and Israel that culminated in the 1956, 1967 and 1973 wars. (14) Ashkelon was an example: in October 1950, 20 Palestinian families remained in Ashkelon most of whom later moved to Lydda or Gaza. (46) According to Israeli records, in total 2,333 Palestinians were transferred to the Gaza Strip, 60 to Jordan, 302 to other towns in Israel, and a small number remained in Ashkelon. (46) Lavon argued that this operation dissipated “the last shred of trust the Arabs had in Israel, the sincerity of the State’s declarations on democracy and civil equality, and the last remnant of confidence the Arab workers had in the Histadrut.” Acting on an Egyptian complaint, the Egyptian-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission ruled that the Palestinians transferred from Majdal should be returned to Israel, but this was not done. (46) Re-population of the recently vacated Arab dwellings by Jews had been official policy since at least December 1948, but the process began slowly. (46) The Israeli national plan of June 1949 designated al-Majdal as the site for a regional urban centre of 20,000 people. (46) From July 1949, new immigrants and demobilized soldiers moved to the new town, increasing the Jewish population to 2,500 within six months. (46) These early immigrants were mostly from Yemen, North Africa, and Europe. (46) During 1949, the town was renamed Migdal Gaza, and then Migdal Gad. (46) Soon afterwards it became Migdal Ashkelon. (46) The city began to expand as the population grew. (46) In 1951, the neighborhood of Afridar was established for Jewish immigrants from South Africa, and in 1953 it was incorporated into the city. (46) The current name Ashkelon was adopted and the town was granted local council status in 1953. (46) In 1955, Ashkelon had more than 16,000 residents. (46) By 1961, Ashkelon ranked 18th among Israeli urban centres with a population of 24,000. (46) This grew to 43,000 in 1972 and 53,000 in 1983. (46) In 2005, the population was more than 106,000. (46) Eilat was another example: it was formally granted to Israel with the 1949 Armistice Agreements. (47) Construction of the city began shortly afterward. (47) The Timna Copper Mines near Timna valley were opened, the Port of Eilat and Eilat Airport were built, the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline laid, and tourism began. (47) The port became vital to the fledgling country’s development. (47) In the early 1950s, Eilat was a small and remote town, populated largely by port workers, soldiers, and former prisoners. (47) A concerted effort by the Israeli government to populate Eilat began in 1955 when Jewish immigrant families from Morocco were resettled there. (47) The Arab states reacted by refusing to accept or recognize Israel and imposed an economic boycott on that country. (17) They argued that ultimately, religious myths, without presence and possession, were incapable of creating an ownership right. (63) Palestinians, on the other hand, are the descendants of all previous inhabitants, including Israelites. (63) Although this limited Israel’s economic potential, it also imposed limitations on the Arabs. (17) Aside from the loss of well-established markets for their produce and labour, Syria and Jordan could no longer use the oil refinery and port of Haifa, and the Iraq Petroleum Co.’s oil pipeline across the desert from Baghdad had to be rerouted. (17) Jordan had no access to the sea except through the port of Aqaba, to which there was no paved road. (17) Land communication between Egypt and the Arab states east of the Jordan became impossible. (17) To avoid overflying Israel, air routes had to be changed, often at considerable expense, and the transit trade through Haifa, which had been important to Jordan and Palestine, shifted to Beirut. (17) These obstacles were overcome in time, but it required wrenching adjustments in trade patterns and the severe loss of income to towns like Jerusalem, which had benefited from the flow of goods and tourists between the Mediterranean and the Arab hinterland to the East. (17) Ironically, Israel, forced by the boycott to leapfrog over its neighbours to find markets, became a major exporter of technology throughout the world and in 1998 had a per capita income and physical quality of life far superior to other nations in the region. (17) In the Middle East, the war led to increased support for Arab nationalists. (18) King Farouq (18) and the rest of the Egyptian Royal Family were far from popular and it was in this setting that (14) Nasser rose to power. (14,18) In both Syria and Egypt, and eventually in Iraq, the incompetence of the old regime in the 1948 war was a major justification for seizure of power by the military, and Jordan’s King Abdullah was assassinated in 1951 because he had dealt directly with the Israelis on a division of the spoils in Palestine. (17) The Palestine problem also became an overriding issue in Arab politics and a source of much tension and instability. (17) Until 1948, Palestine typically referred to the geographic region located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. (61) Arab people who call this territory home are known as Palestinians. (61) Much of this land is now considered present-day Israel. (61) Today, Palestine theoretically includes the West Bank (a territory that divides modern-day Israel and Jordan) and the Gaza Strip (land bordering modern-day Israel and Egypt). (61) However, control over this region is a complex and evolving situation. (61) The borders aren’t formally set, and many areas claimed by Palestinians have been occupied by Israelis for years. (61) More than 135 United Nations member countries recognize Palestine as an independent state, but Israel and some other countries, including the United States, don’t make this distinction. (61) A desire to avenge the 1948 defeat and fears of Israeli expansionism became an obsession with the Arabs. (17) Enormous amounts of money that could have gone to social and economic programs were spent on armaments and military preparations. (17) Israel responded in kind, and the “Near East” (the Arab states and Israel plus Iran) became the less-developed world’s largest importer of weapons. (17) The 1948 war increased Arab suspicion of the West and particularly of the USA, which had recognised Israel immediately. (18) The Soviet Union tried to maintain a policy of friendship with Israel at first, abstaining from and allowing the passage of Security Council Resolution 95 in September 1951, which chastised Egypt for preventing ships bound for Israeli ports from travelling through the Suez Canal, asking them to cease interference on shipping for political purposes. (45) As late as December, 1953, the Soviets were the first state to instruct their envoy to present his credentials to the President of Israel in Jerusalem, the Israeli annexation of and usage as the capital being controversial. (45) This move was followed by other nations and strongly protested by the Arabs as “flouting” UN resolutions. (45) Stalin died in March 1953. (HN) In the latter part of 1953 (45) for the first time, the Arab states began to look towards the Soviet Union (18) which had switched sides in the Arab–Israeli conflict. (45) It began to side with the Arabs in armistice violation discussions in the Security Council. (45) On January 22nd, 1954 the Soviets vetoed a Security Council resolution (relating to a Syrian–Israeli water dispute) because of Arab objections for the first time, and soon after vetoed even a mild resolution expressing “grave concern” that Egypt was not living up to Security Council Resolution 95. (45) This elicited Israeli complaints that resolutions recognizing its rights could not pass because of the Soviet veto policy. (45) At the same time, however, the Soviets did support the Israeli demand for direct negotiations with the Arab states, which the Arab states opposed. (45) Three major Arab-Israeli wars causing tens of thousands of casualties were fought–in 1956, 1967, and 1973–before any movement toward a meaningful peace began. (17) Like the earlier deal with Israel, a major episode in the Soviet relation to the conflict was the Czech arms deal with Egypt for arms from the Soviet bloc in August 1955. (45) It wasn’t until JFK in 1962 that America sold arms to Israel, at this point Israel had already been invaded by seven Arab armies. (22) In 1967 Israel took still more Palestinian and Syrian land, which is now illegally occupied territory, since the annexation of land through military conquest is outlawed by modern international law. (25) It has continued this campaign of growth through armed acquisition and illegal confiscation of land ever since. (25) Individual Israelis, like Palestinians and all people, are legally and morally entitled to an array of human rights. (25) On the other hand, the state of Israel’s vaunted “right to exist” is based on an alleged “right” derived from might, an outmoded concept that international legal conventions do not recognize, and in fact specifically prohibit. (25) Today Israel is at peace with Egypt and Jordan but not with Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, or Saudi Arabia. (17) It has the substance, if not the form, of diplomatic relations with Morocco, Tunisia, Oman, and Qatar. (17) Its 1994 treaty with Jordan, as well as regional economic conferences in which it has participated, has raised hope for meaningful economic cooperation with the Arab world, but results to date have been limited, in part because Israel is no longer as interested in Arab markets as it once was but also because of Arab dissatisfaction with the lack of progress in implementation of the Oslo accords between Israel and the Palestinians signed in the U.S. on Aug. 13th 1993. (17) These accords set forth a six-year program for arrival at a final Israeli settlement with the Palestinians. (17) Significant progress has been made, but major differences remain regarding such issues as territory, creation of a Palestinian state, the status of Jerusalem, and the refugees. (17) In the absence of agreement on those problems, and in the absence of peace with Syria, Israel has remained a nakba, or disaster, as far as most Arabs are concerned. (17) Historians can and do debate who is at fault for this debacle. (20) But it’s irrefutable that Palestinians didn’t merely lose their putative state and political power. (20) At an individual and familial level, they lost their homes and property, in almost all cases for good. (20) Collectively, they lost their society, and were condemned to live as exiles or stateless subjects under the rule of a foreign military. (20) They had a society, and then they didn’t. (20) The rupture of the nakba cannot be mended. (20) The state of Israel is a reality that will not disappear. (20) Most Palestinians fetishize the right of return, and from a moral and legal perspective, their case is irrefutable. (20) But politically, there is no chance of any such return, except in tiny, symbolic numbers. (20) After decades of fruitless struggle and brutality on all sides, Palestinians have somewhat bitterly come to accept that the nakba cannot be reversed or even really redressed. (20) They accepted that a two-state solution, with a Palestinian state based in the territories Israel occupied in 1967 living alongside the Jewish state, was the only available outcome. (20) But even that has proven unattainable. (20) The trauma of the nakba cannot be addressed until the rest of the world, and particularly Israel, recognizes its validity and importance. (20) The event does not compare to the Holocaust—very little else does. (20) But Jews and Palestinians are two peoples both marked by definitive historical traumas that define their world views. (20) The difference is that the Jewish and Israeli narratives continue to an epiphany of redemption in the founding and flourishing of the state of Israel, while for Palestinians, permanently dispossessed and living in exile or under occupation, the trauma is enduring and still unfolding. (20) This is especially true in Gaza, which has become a wretched open-air prison for almost 2 million densely packed residents. (20) The humanitarian crisis and pervasive despair there are so dire that even Israeli security officials regard Gaza as a ticking bomb of human misery. (20) If it does not explode on May 15, it will soon. (20) Hence the nakba is not so much a historical memory for most Palestinians, as a daily, lived experience. (20) Recognizing that and acting on it will be indispensable for understanding the Palestinian perspective, at long last ending the conflict and the nakba, and allowing Jews and Arabs, and the whole world, to finally move on. (20) On the other hand, today, the United States and Israel are the closest of friends. (22) The continued strength of the US-Israel alliance is rooted in the shared values of the two nations. (22) During more than six decades of state-building, Israelis have looked to the United States for political inspiration and support. (22) Americans, in turn, have viewed Israel with a special appreciation for its successful effort to follow the Western democratic tradition, its remarkable economic development, and its determined struggle against its uncompromising enemies. (22) ‘Since the rebirth of the State of Israel, there has been an ironclad bond between that democracy and this one’ — President Ronald Reagan. (22) Since World War II the U.S. has offered continuous economic and military assistance to the Middle East. (22) Between 2009 and 2015 the Arab states received a total $36 billion of US AID, while Israel received $18 billion. (22) Today America is the principal backer of nations such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf sheikdoms. (22) Israel does not receive preferential treatment from America, rather the entire Middle East receives special treatment. (22) The rebirth of Israel was accompanied by economic prosperity for the region. (62) Arabs migrated to this area to find employment and enjoy the higher standard of living. (62) In documents not more than hundred years, the area is described as a scarcely populated region. (62) Jews by far were the majority in Jerusalem over the small Arab minority. (62) Until the Oslo agreement the major source of income for Arab residents was employment in the Israeli sector. (62) To this day, many Arabs try to migrate into Israel with various deceptions to become a citizen of Israel. (62) Even the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Arafat himself, is not a “Palestinian”. (62) He was born in Egypt. (62) The famous “Palestinian covenant” states that Palestinians are “an integral part of the Arab nation” — a nation which is blessed with a sparsely populated land mass 660 times the size of tiny Israel (Judea, Samaria and Gaza included). (62) All attempts to claim Arab sovereignty over Israel of today, should be seen with their real intention: The destruction of Israel as a Jewish state and the only bulwark of the Judeo-Christian Western civilization in the Middle East. (62) Ultimately, the responsibility and blame rests with the Arab leadership for rejecting the partition resolution. (64) The refugee issue was artificially kept alive by the Arab states, who deliberately used the refugees as pawns against Israel. (64) The real reason for the continuation of the conflict was the refusal of the Arab states to recognize Israeli’s existence. (64) Israel has repeatedly offered peace, but not at the price of the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state, which has been the Arab goal since 1948. (64)


Appendix 1 Variations on Text of Declaration of Independence


This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their independent State may not be revoked. It is, moreover, the self-evident right of the Jewish people to be a nation, as all other nations, in its own sovereign State. Accordingly, we, the members of the National Council, representing the Jewish people in Palestine and the Zionist movement of the world, met together in solemn assembly today, the day of the termination of the British mandate for Palestine, by virtue of the natural and historic right of the Jewish and of the Resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations, hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called Israel. (11)’


This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their State is irrevocable. (16) OR may not be revoked (11) This right is the natural (16) OR It is, moreover, the self-evident (11) right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State. (16) Accordingly we, members of the people’s council, representatives of the Jewish community of eretz-israel and of the zionist movement, are here assembled on the day of the termination of the British mandate over eretz-israel and, by virtue of our natural and historic right and on the strength of the resolution of the united nations general assembly, (16) hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in eretz-israel, to be known as the state of israel. (16) OR proclaim the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called Israel. (11) We declare that, with effect from the moment of the termination of the Mandate being tonight, the eve of Sabbath, the 6th Iyar, 5708 (15th May, 1948), until the establishment of the elected, regular authorities of the State in accordance with the Constitution which shall be adopted by the Elected Constituent Assembly not later than the 1st October 1948, the People’s Council shall act as a Provisional Council of State, and its executive organ, the People’s Administration, shall be the Provisional Government of the Jewish State, to be called “Israel”. (16) The state of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. (16) The state of Israel is prepared to cooperate with the agencies and representatives of the United Nations in implementing the resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947, and will take steps to bring about the economic union of the whole of Eretz-Israel. (16) We appeal to the United Nations to assist the Jewish people in the building-up of its State and to receive the State of Israel into the comity of nations. (16) We appeal – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions. (16) We extend our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. (16) The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East. (16) We appeal to the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora to rally round the Jews of Eretz-Israel in the tasks of immigration and upbuilding and to stand by them in the great struggle for the realization of the age-old dream – the redemption of Israel. (16) Placing our trust in the “rock of Israel”, we affix our signatures to this proclamation at this session of the provisional council of state, on the soil of the homeland, in the city of tel-aviv, on this sabbath eve, the 5th day of iyar, 5708 (14th may,1948). (16)

Appendix 2: Was there a vote on Independence?

For the first 30 years after independence, the most thorough account was that prepared by a little-remembered man named Zeev Sharef. (26) Regarded in his day as Israel’s “number-one civil servant,” Sharef had orchestrated the bureaucratic transition to statehood. (26) He then served as Israel’s first cabinet secretary from 1948 to 1957, and from the 1960s as a cabinet minister, holding the portfolios of commerce and industry, housing, and (briefly) finance. (26) He also implemented the first overhaul of Israel’s internal-revenue system. (26) It was Sharef (with the help of two stenographers) who kept the minutes of the May 12 meeting of the People’s Administration. (26) Later these minutes would serve him as a partial basis for a book on the birth of Israel entitled Three Days (1959; English translation 1962). (26) Since, at the time, the classified minutes had not yet been released, the relevant chapters of Sharef’s book (in the section entitled “The First Day”) were long considered the insider source for the events of May 12. (26) Those chapters (like the minutes themselves) are at times confusing, perhaps because, as Sharef writes, “neither the subject matter nor the agenda [of the meeting] had been determined in advance—[instead,] the agenda developed out of the proceedings” as the meeting, chaired by Ben-Gurion, wandered from subject to subject. (26) But some of the major highlights as recounted in the book would become famous. (26) For example, there was a report by Golda Meyerson (later Meir) on her secret meeting the previous day in Amman with King Abdullah of Transjordan. (26) The bottom line: the king would be joining in the war. (26) “I am very sorry,” she quoted him as saying, apologetically: “I deplore the coming bloodshed and destruction.” Then Shertok briefed the meeting on the American position. (26) His bottom line: people in the know in Washington had reassured him that Marshall didn’t have the final word, and the Jewish Residents “shouldn’t compromise and shouldn’t fear.” Causing deep unease was the military briefing by Yigal Sukenik (later Yadin). (26) As chief of military operations for the Haganah, and later to become the IDF’s chief of staff, Sukenik assessed that if the Arab armies invaded, “the chances are very much equal” (others would translate that to mean “50-50”). (26) But, he continued, “if I am to be candid, the [enemy’s] advantage is large, if they bring all their fighting force to bear.” Ben-Gurion asked whether a truce would be advisable militarily; Sukenik said yes, it could be, but only if the time could be exploited to prepare for the next round. (26) The situation of the Jews in besieged Jerusalem also prompted concern. (26) Not only were they cut off (indeed, two members of the People’s Administration were unable to make it to the meeting in Tel Aviv), because the Transjordanian Arab Legion had laid siege to nearby Gush Etzion. (26) In fact it would fall the next day, and its defenders would be massacred—the first decisive loss to an invading force. (26) Ben-Gurion gave a presentation that seemed at first to echo Sukenik’s doubts. (26) There would be more battlefield defeats and losses, he said, and these might undermine morale. (26) Central command was weak. (26) But he then laid out the conditions for victory. (26) If manpower, planes, and guns could be mobilized, “it won’t be the ‘picnic’ to which the Jewish Residents have become accustomed lately, but from the perspective of our dynamism… we can overcome.” A truce within Palestine would only hinder the Jews’ needed mobilization, while the neighbouring Arab states would be free to arm and prepare. (26) His bottom line: “I don’t see any advantage to a truce.” Sharef himself points to the meandering character of the discussion: “Actually, consideration of an epochal and fateful issue [of declaring the state] was interwoven into the discussion on [a cease-fire in] Jerusalem.” And “the question of whether to accept the American truce proposal at the UN was intercalated into the discussion on the creation of the state.” Every issue, when raised, seemed to bleed into another one, over which opinions divided differently. (26) “A vote was taken. (26) It was decided by six to four to reject the proposal for a truce.” Acceptance would imply postponing the declaration of the state. (26) Rejection, by the raising of hands, meant ipso facto that in two days’ time the state would come into formal being, within the comity of nations. (26) And this is the account that went down “in history” as the standard version. (26) Over the decades, Israelis would encounter it in a vast array of canonical sources, from the authorized account of the 1948 war, Sefer Toldot Ha-haganah (The History of the Haganah, part 3), to the 1981 documentary film series Amud Ha-esh (Pillar of Fire, episode 19). (26) Ben-Gurion’s biographers, most notably Michael Bar-Zohar, Dan Kurzman, and Shabtai Teveth, also told the same story, with various degrees of embellishment. (26) Other historians would add details that cast the vote in an even more dramatic light. (26) Zeev Tzachor, Ben-Gurion’s last private secretary, and later a historian at Ben-Gurion University, claimed that nine of the ten members entered the meeting leaning toward delay—and that only Ben-Gurion thought otherwise: This was Ben-Gurion’s finest hour. (26) Four of the ten didn’t budge from their opposition to the declaration (including two from Mapai, his own party), but he persuaded the other five, who had either wavered or opposed the declaration, and they backed his position. (26) Now there were six supporters against four opponents. (26) The American proposal was rejected. (26) Ben-Gurion thus won this “dramatic vote, perhaps the most important in our history,” and he won it alone. (26) The story is also repeated, with variations, in just about every standard English-language history of Israel’s birth, from best-selling journalists like Dan Kurzman in Genesis 1948 (1970) and Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre in O Jerusalem! (1972) to scholars like Martin Gilbert in Israel: A History (1998), Anita Shapira in Israel: A History (2012), and Daniel Gordis in Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn (2016). (26) Here are excerpts: Kurzman (who admits to “using the techniques of the novelist”): “And now we will vote on whether to accept the armistice proposal,” Ben-Gurion declared. (26) Had he made them understand? Could they hear the whispers of the fainthearted millions who had perished? … When the vote was taken, Ben-Gurion announced the result with the same calm he might have shown in setting the date for the next meeting. (26) Six of the ten council members present had voted to reject the truce plan. (26) Ben-Gurion glanced with the faintest smile at Shertok, who had cast the deciding vote. (26) A state would be proclaimed. (26) Collins and Lapierre, in a chapter entitled “By Just One Vote”: Transfixed by the magnetic personality of their chief, the other leaders fell silent. At his call for those in favour of accepting the truce, Ben-Gurion saw four hands go up. (26) The motion had failed by just one vote. (26) On that one vote had hung the rebirth of the Jewish state. (26) Gilbert, in a book published on Israel’s 50th anniversary: By six votes to four, the proposal [in favour of postponement] was rejected. … Midnight had come and gone. (26) A historic decision had been made. (26) A Jewish state—the first for 2,000 years—would come into being, Shapira: The discussion was protracted. … In the end the decision was six to four to declare statehood, with Ben-Gurion putting all his weight behind it. (26) The council members were taking a tremendous gamble. (26) Gordis: Ben-Gurion … adamantly opposed any delay. … Yet some members of the Jewish Residents’ leadership disagreed. … Ben-Gurion insisted that for Jewish sovereignty it might be “now or never” … By a slim margin of 6-4, the People’s Administration voted in Tel Aviv on May 12, 1948, to declare the first sovereign Jewish state since Judea had fallen two millennia earlier. (26) And this is just a sampling; the story has been endlessly repeated because its drama is simply irresistible. (26) Indeed, it is a modern iteration of the story of Exodus, with Ben-Gurion in the role of Moses, prodding doubters to believe in themselves and defy the dangers on the route to freedom in their own land. (26) And yet one person—David Ben-Gurion—never repeated the story, and historians who sought confirmation from him came away empty-handed. (26) In his laconic diary entry for the day itself, Ben-Gurion didn’t mention this vote. (26) “In the afternoon, a meeting of the People’s Administration,” he wrote: It was decided to declare statehood and a Provisional Government at four in the afternoon on Friday. (26) Only [Peretz] Bernstein [of the General Zionists] suggested that we just declare the [Provisional] Government. (26) In 1961, after publication of Sharef’s book, an interviewer pressed Ben-Gurion: would he name those who opposed the immediate declaration of the state? “I prefer not to deal with this question. (26) There are minutes of the People’s Administration … and they provide the answer to this question.” But would he endorse Sharef’s account? Sharef was “generally” accurate, Ben-Gurion allowed, but he couldn’t confirm “all the details.” In 1968, a young graduate student, Mordechay Naor, met with Ben-Gurion at Sde Boker and subsequently wrote him asking for the names of those who had voted for and against the truce. (26) Sharef hadn’t named them, he said, and while some historians had guessed their identities, they didn’t all agree. (26) Ben-Gurion replied: I am not familiar with this at all, and in the minutes in my possession there is no such resolution, and I do not know on what basis you believe that six voted against it and four in favour. (26) Therefore I cannot tell you the names of those against and those in favour, because there was no vote. (26) Naor did not publish this letter until many years later. (26) Then, in 1971, the multi-volume Encyclopedia Judaica appeared, and it included an entry on the “Israel Declaration of Independence” written by none other than Ben-Gurion himself. (26) Once more, Ben-Gurion made no mention of any truce vote. (26) But, as also in his reply to Naor, he did confirm the later vote, in which it was decided to exclude from the declaration any mention of borders. (26) The most important piece of evidence appeared five years later. (26) In his letter to Naor, Ben-Gurion had mentioned “the minutes in my possession.” These classified minutes were finally published on Israel’s 30th anniversary in 1978, after Ben-Gurion’s death. (26) It turned out that he was right about them: the six-to-four vote against the truce (and, by implication, in favour of declaring the state immediately) is nowhere to be found; only the later vote, on whether to specify the state’s borders, is recorded in the minutes. (26) Of course, much of what was said during thirteen hours of deliberations could not have been reported in only 119 pages of typed minutes. (26) Sharef included what he thought was important. (26) But even if some arguments fell by the editorial wayside, how could the vote over postponement have been omitted—especially since the same minutes duly recorded the details of the other vote? Publication of the minutes thus planted a seed of doubt. (26) Some historians nevertheless decided to prefer Sharef’s book of 1959 to the minutes composed by him in 1948. (26) After all, when he published his book, eight of the ten participants were still alive, some even active in politics, and Sharef himself was still a civil servant. (26) Would he have dared to risk his position by fabricating the story of a split vote if there had been none? Also, some participants—notably, Mordechai Bentov and Aharon Zisling (both of Mapam, a socialist party to the left of Ben-Gurion’s Mapai)—reassured historians that there had indeed been such a vote. (26) If so, then perhaps Sharef had simply struck it from the minutes because Ben-Gurion, eyeing posterity, wanted to minimize the depth of internal divisions. (26) This speculation, presuming a sort of soft conspiracy, allowed historians to continue telling the story as they always had. (26) But seeds of doubt have a way of germinating. (26) An early dissenting voice was that of the military historian Meir Pa’il in his 1983 contribution to the monumental Historiah shel Eretz-Israel (History of the Land of Israel, volume 10). (26) There he wrote that the People’s Administration “reached a general agreement, without a vote, to declare an independent state upon the British evacuation” (emphasis added). (26) “Sharef was astonished and at a loss when he examined the minutes and discovered he had erred,” wrote an Israeli historian who confronted him. (26) Another historian, Yoram Nimrod, reached the same conclusion, and even went to Sharef to confront him with the minutes. (26) “Sharef was astonished and at a loss when he examined the minutes and discovered he had erred,” wrote Nimrod. (26) “We discussed this a few times, without reaching a solution, but by the time I found a reasonable explanation and asked to present it to him, he had fallen ill and died shortly afterward.” In Nimrod’s own posthumously published thesis (which finally appeared in 2000), he became the first to assert unequivocally that the alleged vote never occurred, and to attempt to explain the discrepancy. (26) In 1998, Israeli state television broadcast the controversial series T’kumah (“Resurrection”) on the history of Israel. (26) Here, for the first time, a wider public would have heard this: Contrary to the accepted version, there was no vote on whether or not to declare political independence. (26) The only question on which the members voted was whether to define the borders of the state according to the [UN] partition plan. (26) By a majority of five to four, it was decided not to include the matter of the borders in the declaration. (26) Later, in 2005, the historian Yigal Eilam (who had been a consultant for T’kumah) published a detailed article aggressively accusing some historians of “laziness” in accepting the “myth” of the dramatic vote. (26) He, too, tried to explain why the “myth” arose—his theory: Sharef became confused—and why the vote wasn’t necessary in the first place. (26) By now, the seed of doubt was in full flower. (26) But because Nimrod and Eilam were regarded as gadflies, some dismissed their version as a post-Zionist assault on a story of heroic Zionist leadership—in this case, Ben-Gurion’s. (26) (This, despite Eilam’s insistence that, in his eyes, his correction of the record “doesn’t detract in the least from the historic value of Ben-Gurion and the importance of the role he played at that moment.”) It was only in the wake of this controversy that the dissenting version finally received a major endorsement from the “establishment.” Mordechay Naor, the one-time student who had asked Ben-Gurion about the vote, had gone on to a prolific career, even serving as chairman of the public council of Independence Hall. (26) In 2006, he finally published Ben-Gurion’s letter to him and stated his own view plainly: “I wish to add my own humble voice to those who deny that any vote was taken.” Naor later assumed the task of preparing an authoritative account of the declaration co-sponsored by Independence Hall. (26) Published in 2014, and promoted on the official website of Independence Hall in both Hebrew and English, it includes a facsimile of Ben-Gurion’s letter along with Naor’s reiterated view that the vote never took place. (26)

Appendix 3: the border Issue and the declaration of Independence

What sort of state had been declared? Would it be a state within the borders of the UN partition plan of the previous November? Or would it be a state whose borders would be determined by the fortunes of war? Six months earlier, the Jewish Residents had hailed the UN vote as the greatest Zionist achievement since the Balfour Declaration of 1917. Despite deep reservations about the resolution’s map, the mainstream Zionist leadership had accepted the plan in its totality. “We were resigned in 1947 to receiving the rump end of Palestine,” Ben-Gurion later recalled, in accordance with the United Nations settlement. We didn’t think that settlement very fair since we knew that our work here deserved a greater assignment of land. We didn’t, however, press the point and prepared to abide scrupulously to the international ruling come the day of our independence. Over the following months, even as international support for implementation of the UN plan eroded, Zionists clung to it all the more tenaciously. It was their anchor against the shifting currents of policy in Washington, London, and Moscow. As the mandate wound down, Zionists insisted that, to the extent possible in light of Arab rejection, the plan be honoured to the letter. So when the May 12 meeting took up the content of the declaration, there arose this question: what sort of reference should be made to the UN partition plan? Having insisted that others hew to the plan, could the Zionist movement do otherwise? Would, for instance, the Jewish state be declared “in the framework” of the plan? That would be the most legitimate form, and the one likeliest to win international recognition for the new state. But it also posed a dilemma. On the one hand, a declaration of total adherence to the UN plan would imply acceptance of its map; on the other hand, a declaration that the state was established only “on the basis” of the UN partition plan would imply a diminished commitment to that map. The dilemma was acute because in the intervening fighting the Jews had already occupied some territory, mostly to relieve isolated and besieged settlements that the UN plan had assigned to the proposed Arab state. Should the Jews seek to reassure the international community that they weren’t bent on expansion? Or should they prepare the case for possible annexation? The Berlin-born Felix Rosenblueth (later Pinhas Rosen) was a member of the People’s Administration (New Aliyah party). A jurist, he would later become Israel’s first minister of justice, a portfolio he would hold three times. Some weeks earlier, he had assumed responsibility for drafting a declaration of statehood. In the May 12 session, Rosenblueth insisted that the state be declared “in the framework” of the UN partition plan and that its borders be defined accordingly. As a matter of law, he contended, “it is impossible not to treat borders.” He had also distributed in advance a proposed draft in which the People’s Council “declares a free, sovereign Jewish state in the borders set forth in the resolution of the UN General Assembly of November 29, 1947.” Bechor-Shalom Sheetrit, a lawyer and judge (and future minister of police), supported Rosenblueth with a legal argument of his own: Regarding borders, I agree with Rosenblueth. It’s not credible to declare an authority without defining its scope. This can draw us into complications. … What the state publishes is the law in the territory of the state. … When a state arises, it declares the limits of its borders. This was just the sort of moment Ben-Gurion knew how to seize. In a rebuttal described by Sharef as “trenchant,” Ben-Gurion took strong exception to the arguments of Rosenblueth and Sheetrit. “If we decide not to say ‘borders,’ then we won’t say it,” he countered. To begin with, there was no legal requirement to specify them: This is a declaration of independence. For example, there is the American Declaration of Independence. It includes no mention of territorial definitions. There is no need and no law such as that. I, too, learned from law books that a state is made up of territory and population. Every state has borders. [But] we are talking about a declaration [of independence], and whether borders must or mustn’t be mentioned. I say, there’s no law such as that. In a declaration establishing a state, there is no need to specify the territory of the state. “In a declaration establishing a state,” Ben-Gurion maintained, “there is no need to specify the territory of the state.” And Ben-Gurion went further. The UN, by doing nothing to implement its plan, and the Arabs, by declaring war on Israel, had torn up the UN map. In these circumstances, expansion beyond the partition borders would be entirely legitimate: Why not mention [borders]? Because we don’t know [what will happen]. If the UN stands its ground, we won’t fight the UN. But if the UN doesn’t act, and [the Arabs] wage war against us and we thwart them, and we then take the western Galilee and both sides of the corridor to Jerusalem, all this will become part of the state, if we have sufficient force. Why commit ourselves? Ben-Gurion then did something he hadn’t done during the entire session: he called for a vote. “Who favours including the issue of the borders in the declaration?” Four raised their hands. “And who is opposed?” Five. “Resolved,” read the minutes, “not to include the issue of the borders in the declaration.” (The minutes didn’t specify how the individual members voted, and one of them must have abstained. Twenty years later, Ben-Gurion couldn’t remember the precise breakdown.) Why did Ben-Gurion call for a vote? It’s a matter of conjecture. Clearly he thought the issue was of cardinal importance. He probably also thought he had to break the momentum built by Rosenblueth, a formidable legal authority. And it wasn’t just Rosenblueth: the Jewish Agency had consistently reassured foreign governments that the new state wouldn’t deviate from the partition map. As the U.S. consul in Jerusalem reported the following day, May 13, “Jewish Agency officials have steadfastly maintained their intention to remain within the UN boundaries.” If this “intention” were to make its way into Israel’s foundational document, it would be impossible to amend it later. Where exactly might the Jewish state seek to amend the borders stipulated by the partition plan? Ben-Gurion mentioned inclusion of the Jerusalem corridor and the western Galilee, but these were only two examples. In later years, in recalling his rationale, he would emphasize its more general character: “I said: let’s assume that during a war we capture Jaffa, Ramleh, Lydda, the Jerusalem corridor, and the western Galilee, and that we want to hold onto them. Well, it just so happens that we did take these places!” Ben-Gurion wanted the vote as a license to incorporate any strategically vital territory seized in war with an Arab aggressor. The May 12 decision thus set Israel on course to replace the partition map with another map. And the vote was an achievement in which Ben-Gurion took pride. He never claimed credit for turning the tide in favour of independence, but he would consistently claim credit for the vote on the borders. And in the telling, he would always make sure to mention that while his own law studies had been aborted by war in 1914, he had prevailed over the jurist Rosenblueth and the judge Sheetrit. It was as though he wanted to show that by his superior foresight and legal reasoning he’d saved Israel from being forever trapped in the partition map—by its own top lawyers. A map of Palestine in 1949 showing, in green, the territory allotted to the Jewish state under the 1947 UN partition plan and, in pink, additional areas won by Israel in its War of Independence. There is an American footnote to this story. The world had been led to expect that Israel would fill only the space on the map allotted to it by the partition plan. Washington was no exception; as Jewish statehood drew near, the U.S. government sought reassurances. On May 13, the Jewish Agency’s “ambassador” to Washington, Eliahu Epstein (later Eilat), received a phone call from Clark Clifford, special counsel to President Truman and a keen supporter of Zionism. Clifford was working to persuade Truman to recognize the Jewish state immediately upon its birth. He instructed Epstein to write formally to Truman and ask for U.S. recognition as soon as the state was declared. Clifford would later recall telling Epstein that “it was particularly important that the new state claim nothing beyond the boundaries outlined in the UN resolution of November 29, 1947, because those boundaries were the only ones which had been agreed to by everyone, including the Arabs, in any international forum.” Epstein also received a phone call from Loy Henderson, director of Near Eastern affairs at the State Department, and no friend of Zionism, wishing “to ascertain [the] boundaries of [the] new state.” In replying to Henderson, Epstein, who probably hadn’t heard Ben-Gurion’s new formula, adhered to the previous policy line of the Jewish Agency: unconditional acceptance of the UN map. Similarly, in his letter to Truman seeking recognition, he informed the president that Israel had been declared “within frontiers approved by the [UN] General Assembly.” Washington’s de-facto recognition of Israel followed almost immediately. In reality, the state of Israel hadn’t been declared in any borders, giving its critics a basis for later claims that the United States had been misled into recognizing the state based on a false representation. But who could blame Epstein for not knowing that Ben-Gurion had shifted Israel’s position at the last moment? Amid the political and practical preparations for the declaration, Tel Aviv was in turmoil and Epstein had no contact with Shertok, his superior—to whom he would apologize that same day for writing to Truman on his own accord. Ben-Gurion hoped that the partition map would be revised by Israeli victories; Loy Henderson and others hoped it would be redrawn by Israeli defeats. It was Ben-Gurion who would be vindicated. But on May 14 the United States hadn’t recognized Israel’s borders, either. It simply “recognize[d] the provisional government as the de-facto authority of the new state of Israel.” That formula actually consoled some, like Henderson, who opposed American recognition altogether. They could now hope that the Jewish state, following invasion by Arab armies, might be reduced to narrower borders than those of the partition plan, especially in the Negev. If the Arabs took Jewish territory—well, so be it: the United States hadn’t recognized Israel’s borders and certainly wouldn’t guarantee them. So while Ben-Gurion hoped that the partition map would be revised by Israeli victories, Henderson and his kind hoped it would be redrawn by Israeli defeats. In the end, Ben-Gurion would be vindicated, just as he would be vindicated in an ensuing contest with his own diplomats. The latter struggle was occasioned by the fact that the declaration’s lack of a reference to borders did not pass without notice at the UN—and Abba Eban, then representing the new state at Lake Success, thought the lack should be rectified. On May 24, he messaged Shertok from New York: Ambiguity in [independence] proclamation regarding frontiers much commented [by] delegations and exploited [by] opponents, possibly delaying recognition and restricting those received. We urge official statement defining frontiers [of] Israel in accordance with November [1947 UN] resolution. Needless to say, this plea fell on deaf ears—fortunately so, as most Israelis today would agree. By the end of the war, Israel’s territory had grown from 55 % of mandatory Palestine (its share under the partition plan) to 78 % . (See the accompanying map; the area in pink was apportioned to the Arab state by the UN in 1947, but annexed by Israel as a result of the 1948 war.) We began with the Ben-Gurion of 1968 who, in his old age, suggested that Israel could withdraw from territory it had conquered in June 1967 in return for “peace,” and who has posthumously become celebrated as a champion of territorial compromise. By now it should be clear that this image ill suits him. Recall: it was Ben-Gurion who, in 1948, first set Israel on the course of annexing strategically vital territory occupied in a defensive war. The places that Israel occupied beyond its partition allotment, and which Ben-Gurion (as we saw) would list with such pride, constituted almost a quarter of the country. Only under immense external pressure did he withdraw from a single conquest: the northeastern corner of the Sinai, in 1949. West of the Jordan, he never backed down, or out. True, he may have refrained (or, more accurately, been restrained) from taking even more territory that, at least in the estimate of his generals, Israeli forces could have occupied in late 1948 and early 1949. But territory, once occupied, never slipped from his grip. In short, his recent transformation strains against history. Sharef summarized the significance of the May 12 session in this way: “If the state were to be brought into existence by force of arms, then its putative frontiers would have to be determined by the same means.” And this: the state of Israel “would rule over that part of Palestine which was to be conquered by the prowess of the sons and daughters of Israel.” That position became inscribed in Israel’s declaration of statehood, not in words but in their absence—an omission effected by Ben-Gurion himself and validated by a crucial if narrow vote. Once we dispense with the story of the vote that didn’t happen, and focus on the vote that did, May 12 emerges as a microcosm of the modern history of Israel. This is Ben-Gurion’s record. Whether it should be considered all or part of his legacy is a matter of political preference. But, one way or another, this year’s 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence invites a reappraisal of May 12, 1948. Once we dispense with the story of the vote that didn’t happen, and focus on the vote that did, May 12 emerges as a microcosm of the modern history of Israel. Israeli Jews have been virtually unanimous in their zeal for sovereignty and independence. It’s never been a question, and it’s needed no affirmation by vote. By contrast, the territorial extent of the state has always been a question, and one that divides Israel almost down the middle. It can be resolved only by a democratic process. That process was inaugurated by the vote on May 12 seven decades ago, and continues to this day. (26)

Appendix 4: The Woodhead Commission, 1938

The Commission found that a self-supporting Arab State could only be established if it “contained a large number of Jews, whose contributions to tax-revenue would alone enabled that state to balance its budget.” (30) As the Arab State would need the mandated territories for farming and the Jewish State would need them for industry, the Commission proposed a customs union. (30) In their report, they examined three possible modifications of the Peel Commission proposal, which they called Plans A, B and C. (30) These plans proposed the creation of a Jewish state surrounded by a larger Arab state and a British zone. (30) The three plans are as follows: Plan A, was based on the Peel Plan, with the boundaries redrawn “more exactly, taking their outline as a guide”. (30) It proposed a coastal Jewish state, a British-mandated corridor from Jerusalem to the coastal city Jaffa, and the remainder of Palestine merged with Transjordan into an Arab state. (30) Jaffa (without Tel Aviv) was included in the mandated corridor in the Peel Plan but in the Arab state in Plan A. (30) Under Plan A, it was estimated that the Arab state would have 7,200 Jews and 485,200 Arabs, and the Jewish state would have 304,900 Jews and 294,700 Arabs. (30) Plan B, same as Plan A, except that it reduced the size of the Jewish State by adding Galilee to the permanently mandated area and the southern part of the region south of Jaffa to the Arab State. (30) Under Plan B, the Jewish state would have 300,400 Jews and 188,400 Arabs (50,000 in the Haifa district), while 90,000 Arabs and 76,000 Jews would continue to live under British rule. (30) Plan C, a further modification, would reduce the Jewish State to the coastal region between Zikhron Yaakov and Rehovot, while placing northern Palestine, including the Jezreel Valley, and all the semi-arid part of southern Palestine, under a separate mandate to be administered by the mandatory until the Arab and Jewish populations could agree on their final destination. (30) An essential feature of the plan was a customs union of the Arab State, the Jewish State and the territories under Mandate. (30) Plan C recommended: A Jewish state of 1,258 square km, in two parts: The northern part would be a coastal strip 15–20 km wide from Tel Aviv to above Zichron Ya’acov, and the southern part would be a smaller region including Rehovot. (30) The initial population would be about 226,000 Jews and 54,400 Arabs. (30) An Arab state of 7,393 square km, consisting mostly of a segment approximating today’s West Bank and Gaza Strip with a wide corridor connecting them. (30) The Arab state would also include the city of Jaffa. (30) The initial population would be 8,900 Jews and 444,100 Arabs. (30) Three mandated territories under British control: all of the Galilee (initial population 77,300 Jews and 231,400 Arabs), an enclave including Jerusalem and Lydda (initial population 80,100 Jews and 211,400 Arabs), and the Negev region from north of Beersheva (initially 60,000 Arabs). (30) Conclusions The commission report was published on 9, November 1938, concluded that no plan of partition could be evolved within the terms of reference which would, in the view of the members of the Commission, offer much hope of success, for eventual establishment of self-supporting Arab and Jewish states. (30) However, the commission devised possible alternative plans. (30) The commission rejected Plan A, which was the Commission’s interpretation of the Peel Plan, mainly on the grounds that it required a large transfer of Arabs to reduce the number of Arabs in the proposed Jewish state. (30) However, the British government had already rejected Peel’s suggestion that the transfer be compulsory, and the Commission considered that a voluntary transfer was also not expected to occur because of the Arab population’s “deep attachment to the land”. (30) In addition, development difficulties for the Arabs were expected. (30) Second, the inclusion of Galilee in the Jewish state was considered undesirable as “the population is almost entirely Arab”, the Arabs living there were likely to resist the inclusion by force, and the option would create a “minority problem” that threatened regional stability. (30) Plan B was rejected but one member favoured it. (30) The problem of Galilee was considered fatal to Plan B. (30) Including it in the Arab state would create a major security problem for the Jewish state, while keeping it indefinitely under mandate would deprive the large Arab population of its right to independence. (30) Major problems were also seen with the disposition of Haifa, whose population was approximately half Jewish, and the part of Palestine running from Haifa to Beisan and then north to the frontier. (30) Plan C was preferred by the commission. (30) This plan was a modification of the partition, which would form a satisfactory basis of settlement, if the United Kingdom was prepared to provide a sufficient assistance to enable the Arab State to balance its budget. (30) In this plan, the entire Galilee and a corridor from Jaffa to Jerusalem would remain under British mandate. (30) Two members of the Commission also added Notes of Reservation. (30) Russell argued that Plan B was preferred to Plan C, being more in accord with the Peel Commission’s plan, more likely to secure peace, and more equitable and practical. (30) Reid argued that all three plans were fatally flawed. (30) The Commission also declared that there were financial and economic difficulties “of such a nature that we can find no possible way to overcome them within our terms of reference.” It found that “it is not possible, under our terms of reference, to recommend boundaries which will afford a reasonable prospect of the eventual establishment of a self-supporting Arab State. (30) This conclusion is, in our opinion, equally valid under plan C, plan B, and any other plan of partition which does not involve the inclusion in the Arab State of an area containing a large number of Jews, whose contributions to tax-revenue would alone enable that state to balance its budget”. (30) They suggested that the Arab and Jewish states not be given fiscal independence but instead the UK government accept “the very considerable financial liability” and provide a sufficient assistance to enable the Arab State to balance its budget. (30) In a published summary of his findings, Woodhead identified two reasons for the financial infeasibility of an Arab state. (30) First, Jewish citizens of Palestine made much higher per capita tax contribution than Arabs, yet any feasible partition would leave few Jews in the Arab state. (30) Second, the greater part of the Arab wealth lay in the places that would become part of the Jewish state due to their large Jewish populations. (30) For example, although Arabs and Jews had about the same amount of land under citrus cultivation, less than one third of the Arab holding would be in the Arab state.” (30) The Commission proposed a modified form of partition called “economic federalism” in which the two states would enter into a customs union with the territories that remained under mandate, leaving the Mandatory authorities to determine a fiscal policy. (30) According to the report: “The customs revenue would be collected by the Mandatory, and the net surplus after meeting certain common charges would be distributed between the three areas according to an agreed formula, subject to periodic review…The Commission suggest that initially each area’s share should be one-third…To enable the Arab State to balance its budget without subjecting it to external financial control, it should receive a supplementary share out of the share of the mandated territories, under conditions which will entitle it to share in the expansion of customs revenue resulting from an increase of prosperity in the rest of Palestine. (30) This arrangement could be extended, if desired, to cover internal communications (railways, posts and telegraphs) thus removing certain obvious administrative difficulties consequent on partition. (30) While this arrangement withholds fiscal autonomy from the Arab and Jewish states it seems to the Commission, subject to certain reservations, to form a satisfactory basis for settlement, provided his Majesty’s Government are prepared to accept the considerable financial liability involved,” in order to balance the Arab state budget. (30) Former Colonial Secretary Leo Amery argued that partition had been rejected “for the wrong reasons.” He said that the Peel Plan based its proposal on areas where “Jews and Arabs already preponderated,” while fulfilling the Mandate required providing the Jews with sufficient territory for substantial immigration. (30) The attempt of the Woodhead Commission to include the fewest number of Arabs in Jewish areas and vice versa led to plans that were not viable. (30) Moreover, the implication was that a self-supporting Arab state must “continue to enjoy those amenities that Jewish enterprise and taxation had brought to undivided Palestine.” According to Amery, no scheme could be implemented under such assumptions. (30) The report of the Woodhead commission was presented to Parliament and published on November 9, 1938. (30) As a consequence, the government issued a policy statement that “the political, administrative and financial difficulties involved in the proposal to create independent Arab and Jewish States inside Palestine are so great that this solution of the problem is impracticable.” (30) The Jewish Agency Executive responded that the Woodhead report could not “serve as the basis for any negotiations, either between the Jews and the Arabs or between the Jewish Agency and the British government.” (30) Despite Britain’s announcement that the plan was impracticable, it suggested that Arab-Jewish agreement might still be possible. (30) In 1939 London invited the Palestine Arabs, the neighbouring Arab states and the Jewish Agency to London to participate in a third attempt to resolve the crisis, the St. James Conference (also known as the Round Table Conference of 1939). (30) The recommendations were eventually rejected by both Jews and Arabs. (30)

Appendix 5: Immigration in the White Paper of 1939

His Majesty’s Government do not find anything in the Mandate or in subsequent Statements of Policy to support the view that the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine cannot be effected unless immigration is allowed to continue indefinitely. (32) If immigration has an adverse effect on the economic position in the country, it should clearly be restricted; and equally, if it has a seriously damaging effect on the political position in the country, that is a factor that should not be ignored. (32) Although it is not difficult to contend that the large number of Jewish immigrants who have been admitted so far have been absorbed economically, the fear of the Arabs that this influx will continue indefinitely until the Jewish population is in a position to dominate them has produced consequences which are extremely grave for Jews and Arabs alike and for the peace and prosperity of Palestine. (32) The lamentable disturbances of the past three years are only the latest and most sustained manifestation of this intense Arab apprehension [ … (32) ] it cannot be denied that fear of indefinite Jewish immigration is widespread amongst the Arab population and that this fear has made possible disturbances which have given a serious setback to economic progress, depleted the Palestine exchequer, rendered life and property insecure, and produced a bitterness between the Arab and Jewish populations which is deplorable between citizens of the same country. (32) If in these circumstances immigration is continued up to the economic absorptive capacity of the country, regardless of all other considerations, a fatal enmity between the two peoples will be perpetuated, and the situation in Palestine may become a permanent source of friction amongst all peoples in the Near and Middle East. (32) Jewish immigration during the next five years will be at a rate which, if economic absorptive capacity permits, will bring the Jewish population up to approximately one third of the total population of the country. (32) Taking into account the expected natural increase of the Arab and Jewish populations, and the number of illegal Jewish immigrants now in the country, this would allow of the admission, as from the beginning of April this year, of some 75,000 immigrants over the next four years. (32) These immigrants would, subject to the criterion of economic absorptive capacity, be admitted as follows: For each of the next five years a quota of 10,000 Jewish immigrants will be allowed on the understanding that a shortage one year may be added to the quotas for subsequent years, within the five-year period, if economic absorptive capacity permits. (32) In addition, as a contribution towards the solution of the Jewish refugee problem, 25,000 refugees will be admitted as soon as the High Commissioner is satisfied that adequate provision for their maintenance is ensured, special consideration being given to refugee children and dependents. (32) The existing machinery for ascertaining economic absorptive capacity will be retained, and the High Commissioner will have the ultimate responsibility for deciding the limits of economic capacity. (32) Before each periodic decision is taken, Jewish and Arab representatives will be consulted. (32) After the period of five years, no further Jewish immigration will be permitted unless the Arabs of Palestine are prepared to acquiesce in it. (32)”

Appendix 6: Text of the Balfour Declaration:

His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country. (40)

Appendix 7: Text of the Sykes Picot Agreement

It is accordingly understood between the French and British governments: That France and Great Britain are prepared to recognize and protect an independent Arab states or a confederation of Arab states (a) and (b) marked on the annexed map, under the suzerainty of an Arab chief. That in area (a) France, and in area (b) Great Britain, shall have priority of right of enterprise and local loans. That in area (a) France, and in area (b) Great Britain, shall alone supply advisers or foreign functionaries at the request of the Arab state or confederation of Arab states. That in the blue area France, and in the red area great Britain, shall be allowed to establish such direct or indirect administration or control as they desire and as they may think fit to arrange with the Arab state or confederation of Arab states. That in the brown area there shall be established an international administration, the form of which is to be decided upon after consultation with Russia, and subsequently in consultation with the other allies, and the representatives of the Shariff of Mecca. That Great Britain be accorded (1) the ports of Haifa and acre, (2) guarantee of a given supply of water from the Tigres and Euphrates in area (a) for area (b). His majesty’s government, on their part, undertake that they will at no time enter into negotiations for the cession of Cyprus to any third power without the previous consent of the French government. That Alexandretta shall be a free port as regards the trade of the British empire, and that there shall be no discrimination in port charges or facilities as regards British shipping and British goods; that there shall be freedom of transit for British goods through Alexandretta and by railway through the blue area, or (b) area, or area (a); and there shall be no discrimination, direct or indirect, against British goods on any railway or against British goods or ships at any port serving the areas mentioned. That Haifa shall be a free port as regards the trade of France, her dominions and protectorates, and there shall be no discrimination in port charges or facilities as regards French shipping and French goods. There shall be freedom of transit for French goods through Haifa and by the British railway through the brown area, whether those goods are intended for or originate in the blue area, area (a), or area (b), and there shall be no discrimination, direct or indirect, against French goods on any railway, or against French goods or ships at any port serving the areas mentioned. That in area (a) the Baghdad railway shall not be extended southwards beyond Mosul, and in area (b) northwards beyond Samarra, until a railway connecting Baghdad and Aleppo via the Euphrates valley has been completed, and then only with the concurrence of the two governments. That great Britain has the right to build, administer, and be sole owner of a railway connecting Haifa with area (b), and shall have a perpetual right to transport troops along such a line at all times. It is to be understood by both governments that this railway is to facilitate the connection of Baghdad with Haifa by rail, and it is further understood that, if the engineering difficulties and expense entailed by keeping this connecting line in the brown area only make the project unfeasible, that the French government shall be prepared to consider that the line in question may also traverse the Polgon Banias Keis Marib Salkhad tell Otsda Mesmie before reaching area (b). For a period of twenty years the existing Turkish customs tariff shall remain in force throughout the whole of the blue and red areas, as well as in areas (a) and (b), and no increase in the rates of duty or conversions from ad valorem to specific rates shall be made except by agreement between the two powers. There shall be no interior customs barriers between any of the above mentioned areas. The customs duties leviable on goods destined for the interior shall be collected at the port of entry and handed over to the administration of the area of destination. It shall be agreed that the French government will at no time enter into any negotiations for the cession of their rights and will not cede such rights in the blue area to any third power, except the Arab state or confederation of Arab states, without the previous agreement of his majesty’s government, who, on their part, will give a similar undertaking to the French government regarding the red area. The British and French government, as the protectors of the Arab state, shall agree that they will not themselves acquire and will not consent to a third power acquiring territorial possessions in the Arabian peninsula, nor consent to a third power installing a naval base either on the east coast, or on the islands, of the red sea. This, however, shall not prevent such adjustment of the Aden frontier as may be necessary in consequence of recent Turkish aggression. The negotiations with the Arabs as to the boundaries of the Arab states shall be continued through the same channel as heretofore on behalf of the two powers. It is agreed that measures to control the importation of arms into the Arab territories will be considered by the two governments. I have further the honour to state that, in order to make the agreement complete, his majesty’s government are proposing to the Russian government to exchange notes analogous to those exchanged by the latter and your Excellency’s government on the 26th April last. Copies of these notes will be communicated to your Excellency as soon as exchanged. I would also venture to remind your excellency that the conclusion of the present agreement raises, for practical consideration, the question of claims of Italy to a share in any partition or rearrangement of turkey in Asia, as formulated in Article 9 of the agreement of the 26th April, 1915, between Italy and the allies. His Majesty’s Government further consider that the Japanese government should be informed.

Appendix 8: Americans negotiating the Armistice in 1949

The Truce Commission met in the French Consulate, which was just under the Walls of the Old City. We had asked the Department to send an armoured vehicle and it chose not to. So Wasson was obliged to walk this distance, which was relatively far and fairly open between the Consulate General and the French Consulate. On his way back from one of these meetings as he was crossing a street just behind the Consulate — and the irony of it all was that he was wearing a bulletproof vest — a sniper, and to this day no one really knows whether it was Jewish or Arab, shot him in the arm which was the one area that was not protected by the vest. We got him to the hospital, but he died very shortly thereafter. At the time Wasson was hit I was in the Consulate General, the only officer there at the moment. We had a number of communications facilities at that point. We had the Navy and a special CIA/OSS operator who had a post on the roof of the building. Incidentally, he was also later wounded in a mortar attack. I had to decide who was going to be the acting Consul General…. I sent the message informing the Department that Consul General Wasson had been shot and seriously injured and that “I have assumed charge,” signing it “Burdett.” So Bill Burdett indeed was acting Consul General for several months until a replacement came. “I lived in the Consulate General and slept with a telephone and Tommy Gun by my bed”. We ate “Ten-in-One” rations that had been brought in before. (24)

1 Akshay book on American ambassador to Germany

2 First use of term Apl 16th 1947

3 The roll-call vote was as follows: For the Resolution (33) – Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, Liberia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru Philippines, Poland, Sweden, Ukraine, South Africa, Uruguay, the Soviet Union, the United States, Venezuela, White Russia. (15) Against (13) – Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Yemen. (15) Abstentions (10) – Argentina, Chile, China, Colombia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Honduras, Mexico, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia. (15) Absent (1) – Siam. (15)

4 It had been proposed, but not of course introduced.

5 See Appendix 2

6 i.e. suggesting that the declaration of independence was not the start of, but a point in the process.

7 NB that 5 of these 7 are Soviet Bloc countries, reducing the effective recognisers to 4.

8 Source 14 says that the Jordanians occupied Jerusalem, not that they attacked Israel.

9 So why did the Jordanian king accept the crown?

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