The Balfour Declaration was a letter dated November 2, 1917, from British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour, to Lord Walter Rothschild (2nd Baron Rothschild), a leader of the British Jewish community, for submission to the Zionist Federation, a private Zionist organization. The letter stated the position, agreed at a British Cabinet meeting on October 31, 1917, that the British government supported Zionist plans for a Jewish "national home" in Palestine, with the condition that nothing should be done which might prejudice the rights of existing communities there.
Language from the Declaration was later incorporated into the Sèvres peace treaty with Turkey and the Mandate for Palestine. The declaration, a typed letter signed in ink by Balfour, reads as follows:
November 2nd, 1917
Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.
"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."
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Arthur James Balfour
The Great Arab Revolt (1936-1939):
In the late 1920s and early 1930s several factions of Palestinian society became impatient with the internecine divisions and ineffectiveness of the Palestinian elite and engaged in grassroots anti-British and anti-Zionist activism organized by groups such as the Young Men's Muslim Association. There was also support for the growth in influence of the radical nationalist Independence Party (Hizb al-Istiqlal), which called for a boycott of the British in the manner of the Indian Congress Party. Most of these initiatives were contained and defeated by notables in the pay of the Mandatory Administration, particularly the mufti and his cousin Jamal al-Husayni. The death of the preacher Shaykh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam at the hands of the British police near Jenin in November 1935 generated widespread outrage and huge crowds accompanied Qassam's body to his grave in Haifa. A few months later a spontaneous Arab national general strike broke out. This lasted until October 1936. During the summer of that year thousands of Jewish-farmed acres and orchards were destroyed, Jews were attacked and killed and some Jewish communities, such as those in Beisan and Acre, fled to safer areas. In the wake of the strike and the Peel Commission recommendation of partition of the country into a small Jewish state and an Arab state to be attached to Jordan, an armed uprising spread through the country. Over the next 18 months the British lost control of Jerusalem, Nablus and Hebron. During this period from 1936-1939, known as the Great Arab Revolt or the "Great Uprising", British forces, supported by 6,000 armed Jewish auxiliary police, suppressed the widespread riots with overwhelming force. This resulted in the deaths of 5,000 Palestinians and the wounding of 10,000. In total 10 percent of the adult male population was killed, wounded, imprisoned, or exiled. The Jewish population suffered 400 deaths; the British 200. In another significant development during this time the British officer Charles Orde Wingate (who supported a Zionist revival for religious reasons) organized Special Night Squads composed of British soldiers and Haganah volunteers, which "scored significant successes against the Arab rebels in the lower Galilee and in the Jezreel valley by conducting raids on Arab villages. The squads were known for an excessive and indiscriminate use of force, much of which has been documented by Israeli academic Anita Shapira. The Haganah mobilised up to 20,000 policemen, field troops and night squads. The latter included Yigal Allon and Moshe Dayan. Significantly, from 1936 to 1945, whilst establishing collaborative security arrangements with the Jewish Agency (see below for details), the British confiscated 13,200 firearms from Arabs and 521 weapons from Jews.
The attacks on the Jewish population by Arabs had three lasting effects: First, they led to the formation and development of Jewish underground militias, primarily the Haganah ("The Defense"), which were to prove decisive in 1948. Secondly, it became clear that the two communities could not be reconciled, and the idea of partition was born. Thirdly, the British responded to Arab opposition with the White Paper of 1939, which severely restricted Jewish immigration. However, with the advent of World War II, even this reduced immigration quota was not reached. The White Paper policy also radicalized segments of the Jewish population, who after the war would no longer cooperate with the British.
1947 UN Partition Plan:
On 29 November 1947 the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine or United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, a plan to resolve the Arab-Jewish conflict in the British Mandate of Palestine, was approved by the United Nations General Assembly, at the UN World Headquarters in New York. The plan partitioned the territory of Western Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, with the Greater Jerusalem area, encompassing Bethlehem, coming under international control. The failure of the British government and the United Nations to implement this plan and its rejection by first the Palestinian Arabs and then Israel resulted in various wars, starting with the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
After the First World War and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Palestine was placed under British mandate. At the time, 90% of the population was Muslim or Christian. But antisemitism in Europe, which had been on the rise since the late 19th century, led to an influx of Jews. Theodor Herzl had proposed a Jewish State at the first Jewish World Congress and eventually it was decided that this state was to take shape in Palestine (another option had been Argentina). In 1930, the British proposed a division of the territory between a Jewish and an Arab State. In May 1945, however, the Jewish Agency demanded a Jewish State in an 'undivided and undiminished' Palestine. When the British didn't comply, some Jews started using violence. In response, the British strengthened their forces and tried to stop the Jewish influx, but this was met with little international approval and finally the British decided to leave and handed the problem over to the United Nations.
The United Nations, the successor to the League of Nations, attempted to solve the dispute between the Jews and Arabs in Palestine. On May 15, 1947 the UN appointed a committee, the UNSCOP, composed of representatives from eleven states. To make the committee more neutral, none of the Great Powers were represented. After spending three months conducting hearings and general survey of the situation in Palestine, UNSCOP officially released its report on August 31. A majority of nations (Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, Netherlands, Peru, Sweden, Uruguay) recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states, with Jerusalem to be placed under international administration. A minority (India, Iran, Yugoslavia) supported the creation of a single federal state containing both Jewish and Arab constituent states. Australia abstained.
On November 29, the UN General Assembly voted 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions, in favor of the Partition Plan, while making some adjustments to the boundaries between the two states proposed by it. The division was to take effect on the date of British withdrawal. Both the United States and Soviet Union agreed on the resolution.
The 33 countries that voted in favor of the partition, as set by UN resolution 181: Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Belarus, Canada, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, Liberia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Sweden, South Africa, Ukraine, United States, USSR, Uruguay, Venezuela.
The 13 countries that voted against UN Resolution 181: Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Yemen.
The ten countries that abstained: Argentina, Chile, Republic of China, Colombia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Honduras, Mexico, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia.
One state was absent: Thailand.
Following the adoption of the plan, Arab countries proposed to query the International Court of Justice on the competence of the General Assembly to partition a country against the wishes of the majority of its inhabitants (it would place 36% of the Arabs inside the Jewish state. This was narrowly defeated.
Meeting in Cairo in November and December of 1947, the Arab League then adopted a series of resolutions aimed at a military solution to the conflict.
Declaration of the Israel State:
The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, May 14, 1948, was the official announcement that a new Jewish state, named the State of Israel (Medinat Yisrael in Hebrew), had been formally established in the British Mandate of Palestine, the land where the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah had once been.
It has been called the start of the "Third Jewish Commonwealth" by some observers. The "First Jewish Commonwealth" ended with the destruction of Solomon's Temple, and the second with the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem two thousand years ago.
In 1897, at the summons of the spiritual father of the Jewish State, Theodore Herzl, the First Zionist Congress convened and proclaimed the right of the Jewish people to national rebirth in what it claimed to be its own country. This right was supported by the British government in the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917 and re-affirmed in the Mandate of the League of Nations which, in particular, gave international sanction to the historic connection between the Jewish people and Palestine and to the right of the Jewish people to rebuild its National Home.
So, in this way Israel was created based on treaties and meetings between the Zionist leaders.
1948 Arab-Israeli War:
The 1948 Arab-Israeli War is referred to as the "War of Independence or as the "War of Liberation" by Israelis. For Palestinians, the war marked the beginning of the events referred to as "The Catastrophe" (al Nakba). After the United Nations partitioned the territory of the British Mandate of Palestine into two states, Jewish and Arab, the Arabs refused to accept it and the armies of Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq, supported by others, attacked the newly established State of Israel which they refused to recognize. It was the first in a series of open wars in the Arab-Israeli conflict. As a result, the region was divided between Israel, Egypt and Transjordan.
1949 Armistice Agreements:
The 1949 Armistice Agreements are a set of agreements signed during 1949 between Israel and its neighbors Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
The agreements ended the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and established the armistice lines between Israel and the West Bank, also known as the Green Line, until the 1967 Six-Day War.
The agreement with Egypt was signed on February 24. The main points were:
The armistice line was drawn along the international border (dating back to 1906) for the most part, except near the Mediterranean Sea, where Egypt remained in control of a strip of land along the coast, which became known as the Gaza Strip.
The Egyptian forces besieged in the Faluja Pocket were allowed to return to Egypt with their weapons, and the area was handed over to Israel.
A zone on both sides of the border around 'Uja al-Hafeer (Nitzana) was to be demilitarized, and became the seat of the bilateral armistice committee.
The agreement with Lebanon was signed on March 23. The main points were:
The armistice line ("The Blue Line") was drawn along the international border.
Unlike the other agreements, there was no clause disclaiming this line as an international border, which was thereafter treated as it had been previously, as a de jure international border.
Israel withdrew its forces from 13 villages in Lebanese territory, which were occupied during the war.
The agreement with Jordan was signed on April 3. The main points:
Jordanian forces remained in most positions held by them in the West Bank, particularly East Jerusalem which included the Old City.
Jordan withdrew its forces from their front posts overlooking the Plain of Sharon. In return, Israel agreed to allow Jordanian forces to take over positions in the West Bank previously held by Iraqi forces.
Exchange of territory: According to Article 6 Israel will receive a territory in the area known as "wadi Ara" in exchange for territory in the southern hills of Hebron.
A Special Committee was to be formed to make arrangements for safe movement of traffic between Jerusalem and Mount Scopus campus of Hebrew University, free access to the Holy Places, and other matters.
In each case a Mixed Armistice Commission was formed, which investigated complaints by either party and made regular reports to the UN Security Council. In the years following the signing of the agreements, all of the parties were condemned many times for violations. Egypt kept large military forces in the demilitarized 'Uja al-Hafeer area. Israel, on its side, reinforced the Mount Scopus enclave (which was supposed to be demilitarized) with armed soldiers, disguised as policemen. Israel also sent soldiers into Jordanian territory on many occasions to conduct raids in retaliation for incursions by armed persons into Israel. Syrian forces launched numerous artillery attacks against Israeli forces and settlements in the demilitarized zone adjacent to the Golan Heights.
Palestinian Immigration and Refugees:
The Palestinian immigration (al-Hijra al-Filasteeniya) refers to the refugee flight of Palestinian Arabs during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. It is called the Nakba, meaning "disaster" or "cataclysm", by Palestinians.
During the war of 1948, many fled or were expelled from their homes in the part of the land that would become the State of Israel to other parts of the land or to neighboring countries.
The UN estimates their number at 711,000 while the Israeli estimate of the refugees is 520,000 and the Palestinian estimate is 900,000. The degree to which the flight of the refugees was voluntary or involuntary is hotly debated. Some cases of expulsion are well-documented, such as in Lydda and Ramle. So is the attempt by some Jewish leaders in Haifa to stem the flight, and that some Arab leaders called for evacuation of civilian Arabs from the war zone. How much each factor has contributed is disputed.
At the Lausanne Conference, 1949, Israel and the Arab states discussed the issue of refugees but no agreement was reached.
The immigration, and the resulting Palestinian refugee problem remain a central and controversial topic in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
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