100 Years After The Balfour Declaration.
Britain’s public acknowledgement and support of the Zionist movement emerged from its growing concern surrounding the direction of the First World War. After soliciting—with varying degrees of success—the approval of France, the United States and Italy (including the Vatican), Lloyd George’s government went ahead with its plan. On November 2, 1917, Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour writes a letter to Britain’s most illustrious Jewish citizen, Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild, expressing the British government’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine: “His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors 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.” The influence of the Balfour Declaration on the course of post-war events was immediate: According to the “mandate” system created by the Versailles Treaty of 1919, Britain was entrusted with the temporary administration of Palestine, with the understanding that it would work on behalf of both its Jewish and Arab inhabitants. Many Arabs, in Palestine and elsewhere, were angered by their failure to receive the nationhood and self-government they had been led to expect in return for their participation in the war against Turkey. In the years after the war, the Jewish population in Palestine increased dramatically, along with the instances of Jewish-Arab violence. The area’s instability led Britain to delay making a decision on Palestine’s future. In the aftermath of World War II and the terrors of the Holocaust, however, growing international support for Zionism led to the official declaration on 14 May 1948 of the State of Israel. Credit: Daily Mail History
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