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How Britain’s 1917 Balfour Declaration paved the way for conflict between Israel and Palestine

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict traces back to the late 19th century when the Zionist movement sought to establish a homeland for the Jewish people in Ottoman-controlled Palestine ⁶. The Balfour Declaration of 1917, issued by the British government, endorsed the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, which led to an influx of Jewish immigrants to the region ⁶⁷. The declaration was made in a letter from the British foreign secretary to a leader of the Anglo-Jewish community and was later included in the British mandate over Palestine ³.

How Britain’s 1917 Balfour Declaration paved the way for conflict between Israel and Palestine | The Business Anecdote

The turmoil of the Mandate and the modern era had its roots in the Balfour Declaration, issued on 2 November 1917 ⁴. In its 67 words, British foreign secretary AJ Balfour announced vaguely that Britain would “view with favour” a Jewish “national home” in Palestine, without “prejudice” to existing Palestinian inhabitants ⁴. By the end of 1917, the British had made tall promises to several parties. They had promised an independent Arab nation to the Sharif, agreed to share a part of the Arab province with their French allies, and had openly favored the creation of a Jewish homeland in the now-clearly-demarcated state of Palestine ⁷.


Following World War II and the Holocaust, international pressure mounted for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, leading to the creation of Israel in 1948 ⁶. The United Nations recommended the partition of Palestine and the establishment of separate Arab and Jewish states in November 1947 ⁷. The plan was heavily criticized by its opponents for being biased towards Zionism, as it allotted 56% of the land to the Jewish state even though the Palestinian Arab population was double that of the Jewish population. While most Jews in Palestine welcomed the plan, the Jewish Agency for Palestine reluctantly accepted it with reservations.

United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine | The Business Anecdote

On 15 May 1948, Britain gave up her mandate, and the British Army departed from Palestine, leaving the Jews and the Arabs to fight it out in the war that followed ⁸.The Balfour Declaration has been a source of controversy ever since it was issued. Critics argue that it was a colonialist document that paved the way for the dispossession of the Palestinian people ⁴. The declaration has been cited as one of the root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has claimed countless lives and caused untold suffering over the years ⁶.


Source

(3) Balfour Declaration | History & Impact | Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/event/Balfour-Declaration.

(4) How Britain stirred the cauldron of conflict in Palestine - HistoryExtra. https://www.historyextra.com/period/20th-century/britain-palestine-mandate-relationship-israel/.

(6) UK apology sought for British war crimes in Palestine - BBC. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-63145992.

(7) . United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine

(8) Balfour Declaration - Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balfour_Declaration.

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