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:. . Middle East:. . Israel & Palestine

Concerned over the growing influence of Britain, France, and Russia in its territory the Ottoman Empire (1300-1919) made the fatal mistake of aligning with the Austro-German alliance in the First World War.

During the course of the war the British entered into a series of agreements concerning the future division of the Middle East. One agreement, known as the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence pledged the creation of a new Arab state, which would include the Hejaz (the portion of the Arabian Peninsula bordering on the Red Sea), Jordan, Syria, and Iraq in exchange for a revolt by the Arabs against the Ottomans. A second agreement between the British and the French, known as the Sykes-Picot Pact, was to establish a post-war division of the Middle East. France was to assume control over Syria and Lebanon while the British would do the same in Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine. The third wartime agreement, the Balfour Declaration of 1917, was a statement that the British government viewed "with favour 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". This declaration strongly affected Jewish migration in Palestine after the war.

After the war, through the San Remo agreement of 1920, the Sykes-Picot Pact was implemented. As part of this the British were formally granted possession of Palestine under the League of Nations Mandate system. Under this system, colonial territories were to be administered by a foreign power until that time as the local population was deemed ready for self-rule.

The demographics of Palestine began to change dramatically in the 1920’s and 1930’s as there was increased immigration of European Jews into the mandate. This immigration was the result of several factors, most notably being the rise of Zionist ideology and the worsening political condition for Jews in such states as Germany. Zionism (or Jewish nationalism) is a combination of religious faith and pragmatic politics. The Jewish religion and culture are permeated with the symbols of the connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. The Jews consider themselves a displaced people living in exile after having been dispersed around the world. The concept of the right of return is central to the Jewish tradition.

Politically, there was a fear that growing anti-Semitism in places such as Russia/Soviet Union and Nazi Germany made it impossible for Jews to assimilate into the political and economic structures of the Gentiles and therefore, there was a need to create a Jewish homeland. This had profound effects on local demographics. In the 1880's Jews accounted for about 6 percent of the population of Palestine, this number rising to about 8 percent in 1918, 18 percent in 1931 and 31 percent in 1939.

Simultaneously, during this period there was a growing sense of Palestinian nationalism based on the pledges of the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence and the concept of self-determination.

During the Mandate period, the British tried to manage the competition arising out of its conflicting promises. There was constant pressure to allow increased Jewish immigration into Palestine but this was difficult because it was realized that this went against the interests of the Palestinians. Unable to fashion a compromise acceptable to both the Jews and the Palestinians, the British decided after World War II to renounce their control of Palestine. Responsibility for this thorny issue was now given to the fledgling United Nations.



Ancient History
..|..British Mandate Over Palestine..| Birth of Israel..|..The Arab-Israel Wars..|..The Peace Process..|..Security Issues

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