written by : Dr. Sattam Al-Fayez
The Balfour Declaration was the first international recognition issued by a world power to the Jewish people in a national homeland in the land of their forefathers and formed the basis of the British Mandate in Palestine in 1920.
Jewish immigration to Palestine increased significantly during the period between the two world wars, in spite Britain later imposed its borders , following the violence between Jews and Palestinians.
The British Mandate ended on May 14, 1948, and the Jewish leaders in Palestine proclaimed the independence of the State of Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced to flee from their houses because of the war between them
100,000 Jews arrived to Palestine in the years following the Balfour Declaration, in which Britain placed its all weight alongside the Zionist movement, which was demanding the establishment of a national homeland for the Jews in Palestine.
This led to emerge of a Palestinian uprising against Jewish immigration in the 1930s, this pushed the British authorities to limit Jewish immigration ,in the same period as Hitler attempted to get rid from the Jews in Europe
As the violence continued in the 1940s, and as Britain sought to break out of the Palestinian dilemma , Leo Amery, one of the founders of the State of Israel in Palestine, had to accept the inevitability of the partition of the country. But he was working on a solution to the problem, according to documents in a museum in Jerusalem
The museum contains a map drawn in 1946- the map of Amery- aimed at dividing Palestine into two Jewish and Arab parts.The map was very similar to that of the United Nations map of partition of Palestine in 1947 , which ended the British Mandate and the establishment of Israel state
Arab countries rejected the UN map, triggering a war that forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to flee their homes.
High-rise skyscrapers and technological parks in Tel Aviv, the economic capital of Israel, confirm 100 years later that Leo believes that Jewish immigration would change the Middle East.
But the standard of living in Tel Aviv, which is comparable to and exceeds the standard of living in many European countries, is very different from that enjoyed by most Palestinians. The Palestinian economy is suffering from a very major crisis. Many Palestinians believe that this is due to the Britain’s injustice to them when they made the Balfour Declaration.
Before 1 World War ended and the victors shared the legacy of the Ottoman Empire, on November 2, 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour rushed to write a letter to the British banker and one of the Jewish leaders in Britain, Baron Rothschild, and that led to the establishment of the State of Israel and as result ignited the wars and crises in the Middle East
This letter, now known as the Balfour Declaration, was the clearest expression of Britain’s sympathy for the efforts of the Zionist movement to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine, where Balfour asked Rochlid to inform the leaders of the Zionist movement in the United Kingdom and Ireland of the British government’s direction on the movement’s endeavors.
Although the letter does not speak explicitly about the British government’s support for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, but it played a key role in the establishment of the State of Israel 31 years after the letter, 1948.
. The message also contributed to encouraging the Jews of the European continent to emigrate to Palestine during the period between World War I and the second, at a time when the continent was witnessing an upsurge of anti-Semitic nationalist currents
According to the reasons that led Britain to issue this promise, there is more than one explanation. The most important is that Britain wanted to get the support of the Jewish community in the United States during the First World War, because of its wide influence there to push the United States to participate in the war beside Britain.
Another explanation is the belief that the Old Testament guarantees Israel’s right to Palestine.
The letter does not contain the word “state” but speaks of a homeland and emphasizes that nothing must be done that could affect the civil and religious rights of other groups living in Palestine.
The Balfour message was the culmination of many years of communications and negotiations between British politicians and leaders of the Zionist movement in Britain.
The subject of the Palestinian territories fate was under discussion in the British Authorities’ departments ,directly after her participating in World War I. The first meeting between Haim Weizmann, the leader of the Zionist movement recently, and Balfour in 1904 and dealt with the establishment of a homeland for the Jews in Palestine