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July 24: The British Mandate

July 24, 2013

220px-FeisalPartyAtVersaillesCopyThe British Mandate for Palestine, giving Great Britain control over territory that had been ruled for four centuries by the Ottoman Empire, was established by a unanimous vote of the League of Nations on this date in 1922. The agreement formalized British rule over Palestine, which was to include the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people as set forth in the Balfour Declaration (“it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might 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”), and over Transjordan, which was to be ruled semi-autonomously by the Hashemite family. The British presence in Palestine produced armed Arab uprisings and attacks on both British soldiers — especially in 1929 and, most intensely, between 1936 and 1939 — as well as attacks on British soldiers and Palestinians by Jews. The Mandate years ended with the UN Partition Plan of 1947, which proposed a Jewish state with a population of 498,000 Jews, 400,000 Palestinians, and 90,000 Bedouins, and an Arab state with 725,000 Palestinians and 10,000 Jews. To see the history of the British Mandate in five minutes (or so), look below.

“During the years of Ottoman rule, the question of private property rights was never fully articulated. The tenuous nature of private property rights enabled the Zionist movement to acquire large tracts of land that had been Arab owned. The sale of land to Jewish settlers, which occurred even during the most intense phases of the Palestinian Revolt, reflected the lack of national cohesion and institutional structure that might have enabled the Palestinian Arabs to withstand the lure of quick profits. Instead, when increased Jewish land purchases caused property prices to spiral, both the Arab landowning class and absentee landlords, many of whom resided outside Palestine, were quick to sell for unprecedented profits. . . . The British did not intervene in the land purchases mainly because they needed the influx of Jewish capital to pay for Jewish social services and to maintain the Jewish economy.” —Jewish Virtual Library