Balfour Declaration Nov. 1917:

Following the Hussein- McMahon Correspondence and the Sykes- Picot Agreement of 1916, the Balfour Declaration further complicated the situation in Palestine. A formal statement made by the foreign secretary of the British government, Arthur J. Balfour to Lord Rothschild, leader of the British Zionist Organization, the declaration stated that the British
"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."

Acting as the first noteworthy declaration by major power in favor of a Jewish national home in Palestine, the Balfour Declaration was met by quick opposition raised by the British cabinet. The cabinet saw the need to clarify the several of the declaration's poor choice of wording. The phrases “in Palestine" and " a national home" were to the cabinet's opinion ambiguous and unacceptable due to the fact that they proposed an area without specifically defined borders. Furthermore, the British cabinet argued that although declaration might have mentioned the “the civil and religious of existing non- Jewish communities" it never explicitly stated their economic, political or national rights as citizens of Palestine. As illustrated by the cabinet's opposition, the document contained phrases that were very ambiguous. Along with "in Palestine" and "a national home", the clause "use their best endeavors" was vague. How and to what extent would the British facilitate in the establishment of a national home?

Why did the British government choose to implement the declaration?

The declaration was issued by the British government for several reasons. The first and most important reason was to progress the war being fought in Europe as well as advance Britain's domestic policies. Britain hoped that the declaration would persuade the new revolutionary leaders of Russia not to back out of the war, as well as encourage the American government, which had recently joined the war effort against the Central Powers, to fight with new strength. The British government hoped that by implementing the Balfour Declaration it would ensure British province and influence of the eastern flank of the Suez Canal, upon which much of Britain economy has relied, after the end of World War I. Palestine was a strategic area of influence for the British, acting as a link to India and much precious oil.

Problems that came out of the Balfour Declaration

The British contradicted themselves when they issued issued the Balfour declaration. In this document, the British lead the Jews to believe that there would be a Jewish state in Palestine after WWI. However, to the Palestinian-Arabs, the same area of land had been promised to them by through the Hussein-McMahon correspondence. In reality, after WWI ended, the League of Nations gave Palestine to Britain to govern through a mandate. Both the Jews and Arabs felt betrayed by Britain, because the British made false promises.

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After Theodor Herzl's death, Chaim Weizmann took over leadership for the Zionist Movement. Weizmann looked to merge the practical aspect of the movement with the political aspect. The practical movement sought to form a Jewish Settlement in Palestine, thinking this would stop persecution and allow the Jews to be in Palestine when their Messiah returned. The political Jews on the other hand sought to have a Jewish state, but didn't think it was necessary to have it in Palestine. During the Jewish search for a homeland, Weizman obtained land from the Turkish Sultan, who reigned over Palestine. Then, in 1917, Great Britain went to war with Turkey and issued the Balfour Declaration. The Balfour Declaration promised to form a homeland for Jews in Palestine. In 1920, Great Britain was given a mandate of Palestine by the League of Nations so they could implement the Balfour Declaration. In the early years of the mandate, colonization was rapidly increasing, but later, becasue of Arab pressure, the British limited interpretation of the declaration. Some Zionists disagreed on how to counter the British position. Some favored large scale immigration to Palestine in the creation of a Jewish State while others looked for gradual immigration.
"Zionism," The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., Questia, 9 Oct. 2009

" A History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict" by Ian J. Bickerton and Carla L. Klausner