"We and they [the Palestinians] want the same thing: we both want Palestine. And that is the fundamental conflict." - David Ben-Gurion







Palestine Re-Divided

Attacks on Jewish settlements starting in 1920 and anti-Zionist riots later that year resulted in the formation of Haganah, a Jewish self-defense organization. Arabs living in Palestine were opposed to Jewish settlement for fear of displacement and serious cultural divides. The Churchill Command White Paper of 1922 stated that the Balfour Declaration had only promised a Jewish homeland in Palestine, not granted all of it.


The British Mandate officially declared Transjordan a separate state, cutting Palestine as the Zionists knew it in half, and granted France control of Syria. Britain was left in control of Palestine, considerably reduced in size. [Palestinian Mandate Map]

Continued unrest led to the proposal of several partition plans by the Peel Commission. They wished to pacify Arab revolts and prevent an imminent war. Much of the conflict was between tribal groups. Between 1937 and 1938, several unequal divisions were proposed, all of which were rejected by Arab representatives. The White Paper of 1939 limited Jewish immigration to Palestine, and restricted the purchase of land in Palestine by Jews, and showed support of an independent Arab state in Palestine. This was rejected by both the Arab and Jewish community; the Arabs wanted Palestine to be a part of an independent Syria. The British accepted this eventhough is was an open contridiction to the previous Balfour Declaration.


In spite of these restrictions and conditions, the Jewish economy flourished, and illegal immigrants were smuggled beyond the British blockade on the Mediterranean. In response, groups of Jewish radical groups committed acts of terror in an attempt to rid Palestine of the British. Such groups believed that independence could only be achieved if it was fought for, and the British were forced to leave. Desperate because of mounting violence, British leaders turned the issue over to the United Nations. After investigating the wishes of its leaders and residents, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) decided that the best solution would be to divide the country into Jewish and Arab states, and make Jerusalem international territory. [UNSCOP Majority proposal and Minority proposal]