History of Palestine Part IV
1920 The Balfour Declaration opens up extensive Jewish immigration
Following the Balfour Declaration, a new comprehensive Jewish immigration and intense Zionist organization were implemented. This became particularly prominent after Hitler took over power in Germany and the United States, quota immigration regulation. Zionism’s goal of a state of its own for Jews – which until then had been considered completely unrealistic by most – had become “real politics” after the Balfour Declaration.
The British tried to reassure the Palestinians that a sovereign Jewish state would never speak, but still did not intervene when the Zionists began their state-building activities – especially based on Histadrut, “The Hebrew Workers’ Federation in Eretz Israel.” Histadrut organized most of the business and working life within the Jewish population. Likewise education, health care and arming of the settlers.
For the native population, this development was a slow and painful choking process. The peasant population in particular was hit hard. Thousands were forced from their homes and homes to the cities where overpopulation became a serious problem in their 30s. Already from 1920 bloody riots occurred and the British were forced to send ever larger troop forces to the country. The Zionists claimed that the Palestinian uprising was rooted in anti-Jewish religious fanaticism, but British investigative commissioners repeatedly stated that the riots were due to the Palestinians feeling forced out of the country by the Zionist movement.
According to ACEINLAND, the first Palestinian Resistance Congress was held in Haifa in 1920 and demanded national independence in Palestine. But a rally of resistance was hampered by rivalries between the most powerful families in the country. Failure to train and organize the masses made more the riots a bloodbath than effective attacks on the settlers’ strategic points.
Only in 1936 did the resistance struggle come together under one leadership, the Arab Higher Committee. The same year, the Committee organized a general strike that was effective for six months and then went into guerrilla war – “The First Palestinian Revolution”. The resistance movement gained control of most of the country before the British in 1938 were forced to carry out a total military occupation. In 1939, the revolt broke down and ebbed out after fierce internal strife. The political demands of the Palestinians at this time were to stop Jewish immigration, prohibit the sale of land to the Zionists, and set up a national Palestinian government and parliament elected by Muslims, Christians and Jews.
Throughout the interwar period, the British tried to reach a negotiating solution between the Palestinian nationalists and the Zionists. But the Palestinians saw no basis for a compromise with a movement that, as a political goal, had taken over the entire country and expelled the indigenous population.
The Zionists, on the other hand, demanded that all restrictions on immigration and land purchase should be abolished and measures against the indigenous population tightened. It came to armed clashes between British and Zionists. Especially after the establishment of Irgun in 1931 – a right-wing terrorist organization originating in the Zionist military’s main organization, Haganah.
In 1939 it was decided that Jewish immigration should be restricted and after 5 years made dependent on Palestinian approval. The resolution did not solve any problems but allowed the situation to be kept under control for as long as World War II lasted. Following the establishment of the United Nations, the United Kingdom made it clear that the attempts to find a solution were abandoned, that it intended to withdraw from Palestine and leave the problem to the UN.
In November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed by a very small majority – and against a total Arab opposition – that Palestine should be divided into states. The Soviet bloc voted against, contrary to what had previously been Communist politics. The proposed Jewish state covered 56% of the land – approx. 6% of the land was Jewish-owned at this time. In this area, 49% of the population was Palestinian when we ignore the Bedouin nomads. In the proposed Palestinian state, there were approx. 2% Jews.
The Palestinians rejected this plan, which they considered an arrogant European assault on their fundamental rights.
Mobilization was coordinated by the Arab Higher Committee, which worked under very difficult conditions due to the British Exception Laws of 1945. An Arab Liberation Army was organized based on Syria and Jordan. The Arab states expressed their support for the Palestinian struggle.