Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Israeli/Arab Conflict - The Balfour Declaration - 1917


1. Introduction of the Issue


Israel Before The British Mandate 
The question than, is if there has never been a country approximating Israel that was a Muslim/Arab country, and the original usage of the word for a geographical area "Palestine" by the British explicitly provided for a Jewish State, than why are Arabs in Israel now and since the British Mandate referred to as "Palestinians" as if they are the original citizens of a country called "Palestine"? 

The Israeli/Arab Conflict - The McMahon–Hussein Correspondence - 1916
"1. By allying with the British and helping to defeat the Ottomans, the Arabs did earn a national Arab State in the Middle East. 
2. The British promise/agreement to the Arabs for an Arab State preceded any such agreement with the Jews for a Jewish State in Israel.  
3. The British were clear that not all of the Middle East would be an Arab State and never formally communicated to the Arabs that Palestine would be part of an Arab State. 
4. While there never has been an Arab and or Muslim State approximating the area of Israel and under the Ottomans there was no "Palestine" entity or governing area approximating Israel, the British did use the name "Palestine" to refer to the area." 

2. Discussion


The Balfour Declaration of 1917:

"The Balfour Declaration was a letter dated 2 November 1917 from the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. It read:
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.[1][2]"
Key related points -

1) Motivation - Britain hoped that Jews in the United States and Russia would help move their governments towards support of Britain's Middle East objectives. Also, Jews were well represented in the British government at the time.

2) Expectation - Britain's expectation was that the creation of a Jewish homeland would cause mass Jewish immigration to Israel. 

3) Limitation - Britain deliberately used wording of "in Palestine" instead of "of Palestine" in order to make clear that the Jewish homeland would only be located within Palestine and not consist of all of Palestine. 

4) Development - Jewish interest in Israel created significant investment from European Jews which greatly increased the agricultural output of Israel benefiting all inhabitants and reducing the investment required by Britain in Israel.  

Jewish reaction -  

To the previous McMahon–Hussein Correspondence of 1916 promising the Arabs that most of Palestine would be an Arab state = None. 

To the Balfour Declaration of 1917 = Acceptance. Hope was turned into possibility and preparations were started for a Jewish State. The emphasis was on the creation of a Jewish State with little thought as to the extent of the Jewish State and whether there would also be a Palestinian state in Israel. 

Arab reaction -

To the previous McMahon–Hussein Correspondence of 1916 promising the Arabs that most of Palestine would be an Arab state = Acceptance.

To the Balfour Declaration of 1917 = Rejection. The Arabs were clear that not only would they reject the creation of any Jewish state in Israel but they would be violently opposed. 

3. Conclusion


Violent Arab rejection of The Balfour Declaration of 1917 was the start of the Israeli/Arab conflict which has continued to the present time. We will also see in subsequent posts here that the position of the two sides regarding Jewish and Arab states in Israel has not changed since 1917:

Jewish position - Has always been in favor of and offered Two-State solution.

Arab position - Has always opposed and rejected offer of Two-State solution.  


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