The Palestinians had had enough. The year was 1936, and the Palestinians could no longer handle to frustrating realities of the Jewish immigration and the British rule. Determined to take back their land, they started a war against the British that lasted for three years. This war became known as the Great Arab Revolt. For three years, the Arabs fought against the combined forces of the British troops and the Jewish immigrants. In total, 5000 Palestinians lost their lives during this war, while only 100 Jews lost there.
It became clear at this point that the British were unable to maintain order, peace and justice in the region. In 1936, the Peel commission put together a report on the causes of unrest in the region. Their conclusion was to partition the land and divide it between the Arabs and Jews. The Jewish State would be from Mount Carmel to Be’er Tuvia, plus Jezreel and Galilee. The Arab state in southern and eastern area, with “west bank of Jordan River, and Negev Desert. The Jews had mixed reactions to this idea, but the Arabs hated it and rejected it completely.
In 1939, the call for partition was replaced with the idea of an independent Palestine, jointly governed by the Arabs and Jews that would materialize within 10 years. This, however, never came to pass.
End of British Mandate in Palestine
This British found it harder to control the Jewish immigration post-World War II. The oppression and massacre of Jewish population throughout Europe during this period sparked panic. The Jews became determined to have their own homeland far away from European rulers. As a result, tens of thousands of Jews migrated to Palestine. Between 1940 and 1944 alone, over 75000 Jews migrated to Palestine.
As more Jews migrated, the demographics in Palestine began to shift. In 1922, only 11% of Palestine’s 752000 citizens was Jewish, but by 1948, 32% of the now 1.9 million population were Jewish, and they were determined to have their own land in the region.
The British, realizing that they had no control over the situation, were exploring a way to vacate the region while saving face and maintaining its most vital strategic interests in the Suez Canal and Gulf oil. By 1947, the British were seeking a way out of the British Mandate. It was far too costly to maintain and Britain was suffering immense economic hardship post- World War II, causing it to begin decolonization in much of its empire, including the Indian subcontinent.
The Jews, now determined to have their own homeland, started a violent campaign against the British. Between 1940 and 1948, Jewish resistance movements carried out various terrorist attacks against British targets. These included an assassination, various kidnappings and the bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946.
In 1948, the British wanted to end the mandate. Working with the Americans, they forms the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry which made ten recommendations for the region:
1) Call for immediate effect is given to the provision of the United Nations Charter calling for “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion“- intended to gain support from foreign countries to accept Jewish immigrants
2) 100,000 certificates of immigration to Palestine for Jewish of Nazi & Fascist regimes
3) a)That Jew shall not dominate Arab and Arab shall not dominate Jew in Palestine.
b)That Palestine shall be neither a Jewish state nor an Arab state.
c)That the form of government ultimately to be established, shall, under international guarantees, fully protect and preserve the interests in the Holy Land of Christendom and of the Moslem and Jewish faiths.
4) Continuation of Mandate due to violence and instability
5) Arab economic, educational and political development should be equal to that of the Jewish population
6) Administration of Mandate with objectives to not prejudice local populations and to facilitate Jewish migration if suitable conditions exist
7) Rescind Land Regulations of 1940 & allow freedom of non-discriminatory land transfer; and government supervision of holy sites
8) Gain consultation and cooperation from Jewish Agency and neighboring Arab states
9) Education reform for both Arab and Jewish populations, including compulsory education
10) Warning that violence by either side will be suppressed summarily
The UN Partition Plan
With the British determined to leave the region, the Jews determined to form their own state, and the Arabs determined to regain authority in their region, the UN came up with a solution. In 1947, UB Resolution 181 was passed, also known as the UN Partition Plan. Palestine was to be divided into three parts.
The area around Jerusalem with become an International Zone, own by neither the Jews of Palestinians. 43% of Palestine with be given to the Arabs, this included all of the highlands, except Jerusalem, and one third of the coast-line. 56% of the land was to be given to the Jews, these included most of fertile lowlands, the Negev Desert and sole access to the Red Sea. After this division, the Arab state would be 99% Arab, and 1% Jewish, while the Jewish State would be 45% Arab and 55% Jewish, and the International Zone would be 51% Arab, and 49% Jewish.
The Jewish Agency accepted this proposal, but it was rejected by both the Revisionist Zionists and the Arabs. The Zionists claimed that the entire ancestral land be given to them, while the Arabs claimed that the entire region was initially theirs, and they were the majority.
The UN put the matter to a vote. The fate of Palestine now lay in the hands of the UN voters. The results came in. 33 for, 13 against, 10 abstained. With the resolution passed, it was now time to implement the plan, but it never fully materialized. Both the Arabs and Jews were not happy with the results. As a result, a civil war began on November 30th, 1947.
As we leave the Palestinian crisis, we see that the British Mandate did not work out. The Palestinians rightfully wanted full control of their lands. The Jews too were determined to gain control of their ancestral land. In the next episode, we will discuss the civil wars that led to the shaping of modern-day Palestine and Israel.
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