1921 - 1945
Within a year of Palestine ’s coming under British civil administration, riots again break out, this time in Jaffa in May, resulting in 95 dead and 220 injured.
The British government issues a statement on 1 July referred to as the “Churchill Memorandum” which disclaims “wholly Jewish Palestine” or, to effect “the subordination of the Arab population, language or culture in Palestine” but at the same time makes it clear that the Balfour Declaration is not susceptible to change, which means a continued increase of the Jewish community through immigration.
The text of the mandate is approved by the League of Nations on 24 July. The mandate incorporates the Balfour Declaration and recognizes the “historic connection of the Jewish people with Palestine ” as the grounds for reconstituting their national home in Palestine .
The Council of the League of Nations, on 16 September, passes a resolution effectively approving a separate administration for Transjordan . Palestine and Jordan were included in the same mandate but were treated as distinct territories.
The renunciation of Turkish claims over non-Turkish territories of the Ottoman Empire is formalized in the Treaty of Lausanne. The British mandate acquires jurisdiction de jure over Palestine .
Palestinian resentment against the denial of their inherent right of national self-determination, and against the colonization of their land by non-Palestinians, breaks out into violence in August, sparked by a dispute over the wall of “al-Buraq” (the Wailing Wall).
By the end of the decade, around 100,000 Jewish immigrants enter palestine , reaching a peak in 1924-1926 and later declining.
Great Britain issues a new statement of policy entitled the Passfield-White Paper on October 30. The paper asserts that “equal weight shall at all times be given to the obligations laid down with regard to the two sections of the population and to reconcile those two obligations where, inevitably, conflicting interests are involved.”
A letter (McDonald Letter) by the British Prime Minister addressed to Weizman makes it clear that Palestine would be governed in accordance with the Churchill Policy of 1922 and those restrictions by Lord Passfield on Jewish immigration and land transfers would not be applied.
Nazi persecution of Jews in Europe leads to a surge in the number of Jewish immigrants from Europe to Palestine .
Palestinians react to the huge influx of immigrants, with clashes erupting mainly in Jerusalem and Jaffa, resulting in considerable casualties, although not as heavy as those of 1929.
Palestinian resistance to foreign rule and foreign colonization breaks out into a major rebellion that virtually lasts until the outbreak of World War II.
In April, a new union of Palestinian political parties is formed- the Arab Higher Committee, headed by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Al Haj Amin Husseini. The Committee calls for a general strike to support Palestinian demands for the formation of a national government. The strike continues for six months, during which attacks on British troops and posts, as well as on Jewish settlements, take place.
The Jewish side conducts its own campaign of attacks and retaliation, the principle vehicle being the Haganah terrorist group, a covert illegal para-military force formed during the early mandate years. Other Jewish military terrorist organizations are also active, such as the Irgun, Tzeva’I, Leumi, FO’SH, Jewish Settlement Police and the “special night squads ” which were trained by British General Orde Charles Wingate.
At the same time, oppressive measures are escalated by the British. Large parts of the town of Jaffa are demolished, the Arab Higher Committee is proscribed and military courts are established, handing out 58 death sentences by the end of 1938.
A British Royal Commission is established to investigate the “disturbances” and it presents the Peel Report. It recognizes the justice of the demands by the Palestinian people for independence and acknowledges that, contrary to the previous official position, the “dual obligations” undertaken by the British government were not reconcilable. The Commission recommends the partition of Palestine .
The London Conference is held from February through March and develops into parallel but separate Anglo-Arab and Anglo-Jewish conferences, since the Arabs refuse to recognize the Jewish Agency. They insist on the inherent right of Palestinians to their independence while the Jews insist on achieving a Jewish state.
In May, the McDonald White Paper is issued, disclaiming any intention to create a Jewish state and rejecting Arab demands that Palestine become an independent Arab state. Instead, it envisages the termination of the mandate by 1949, with Palestine becoming an independent Arab state with a shared Palestinian-Jewish government. The paper also stipulates that immigration would end after another 75,000 immigrants were admitted over a period of five years, and that British government would strictly regulate the transfer of land.
Within the decade of the 1930’s, Palestine receives approximately 232,000 Jewish immigrants. The Jewish population in 1939 numbers over 445,000 out of a total population of about 1.5 million; nearly 30% as compared to the less than 10% twenty years earlier. Similarly, by 1939, Jewish land holdings had risen by four-times to almost 1.5 million dunums of the total area of 26 million dunums.
In February, the Palestine Authorities issues the land transfer regulations, dividing Palestine into three zones. In the largest of those zones, the transfer of land to a person who is not a Palestinian Arab is prohibited.
The Palestinian Rebellion, the Royal Commission’s report and the 1939 White Paper’s policies all combine to constitute a series of setbacks to the Zionist aim of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine . The general Zionist response includes illegal Jewish immigration, terrorism, and attempts to obtain support from the United States .
A group of Zionist extremists, the Stern Gang, commits a series of politically motivated murders and robberies in the Tel Aviv area.
In May, the Jewish Agency executive meeting in New York makes public what is known as the Biltmore Program, the longstanding aim of which is the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine through unlimited immigration.
The British High Commissioner narrowly escapes death in an ambush outside of Jerusalem . Three months later, on 6 November, the British Minister of State in the Middle East is assassinated in Cairo . The two actions were committed by the Stern terrorist gang.
Zionist pressure in the U.S. increases with the involvement of Congressmen, and President Harry Truman calls upon the British government to open up the gates of Palestine to an additional 100,000 homeless European Jews.