British Mandate of Palestine (1917–48)See also: British Mandate of Palestine
The British Mandate (in effect, British rule) of Palestine, including the Balfour Declaration, was confirmed by the League of Nations in 1922 and came into effect in 1923. The boundaries of Palestine were drawn by the British and included modern Jordan. Britain signed an additional treaty with the USA (which did not join the League of Nations) in which the USA endorsed the terms of the Mandate.
In 1921, the Zionist Commission was granted official status as the Jewish Agency for Palestine in Article 4 of the Mandate. An offer to create a similar Arab Agency was rejected by Arab leaders.
The Mandate permitted the Jewish Agency to oversee Jewish immigration into Palestine and land purchases from the local Arabs. The Jewish Agency soon operated as an arm of the Zionist leadership. It ran schools and hospitals, and later formed a militia, the Haganah. Chaim Weizmann was the leader of both the Zionist Organisation and the Jewish Agency until 1929. The Jewish Agency distributed entry permits to new immigrants (the number was fixed by the British) and funds donated by Jews abroad.
From 1920, the Va'ad Leumi (or Jewish National Council, or JNC) was the main institution of the Jewish community ('Yishuv') within the British Mandate of Palestine. It was democratically elected and included non-Zionist Jews. This body functioned as a virtual government for the Jews in Palestine. The Political Department of the JNC was responsible for relations with the Arabs, ties with the Jewish Agency and negotiations with the British. As the Yishuv grew, the JNC adopted more functions, such as education, health care and welfare services, internal defence and security matters.
Most of the revenue raised by the Mandate came from the Jewish minority but was spent on funding the British administration. Therefore, with British permission, the Va'ad raised its own taxes and ran independent services for the Jewish population. Education and health care for Jews in Palestine were in the hands of the major Zionist political parties: the General Zionists, the Mizrahi and the Socialist Zionists, with each operating independent services and (except for Mizrahi) sports organizations funded by local taxes, donations and fees. The Zionist movement also established the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Technion (technological university)in Haifa (both 1925).
During the whole interwar period, the British, appealing to the terms of the Mandate, rejected the principle of majority rule or any other measure that would give the Arab majority control over the government of Palestine.
 Jewish immigration and Arab oppositionBetween 1919 and 1923, 40,000 Jews arrived in Palestine, mainly escaping the post-revolutionary chaos of Russia (3rd Aliyah). Many of these immigrants became known as 'pioneers' (halutzim), experienced or trained in agriculture and capable of establishing self-sustaining economies. The Jezreel Valley and the Hefer Plain marshes were drained and converted to agricultural use.The combination of Jewish immigration and the terms of the Mandate led to Arab rioting in 1920 and 1921. In response, the British authorities enacted a system of immigration quotas. Exceptions were made for Jews with over 1000 Pounds in cash (roughly 100,000 pounds at year 2000 rates), or Jewish professionals with over 500 Pounds. Arab attacks on isolated Jewish settlements and the British failure to protect them led to the creation of the Haganah ("Defense"), a mainly socialist underground Jewish militia dedicated to defending Jewish settlements
By 1923 the number of Jews in Palestine had reached 90,000. Between 1924 and 1929, 82,000 more Jews arrived (4th Aliyah), fleeing anti-Semitism in Poland and Hungary and because United States immigration policy now kept Jews out. The new arrivals included many middle class families who moved into towns and established small businesses and workshops – although lack of economic opportunities meant that approximately a quarter later left Palestine.
The 1929 Palestine riots (see also the Hebron Massacre), led Ze'ev Jabotinsky to create a right-wing militia group called the Irgun Tzvai Leumi (National Military Organization, known in Hebrew by its acronym "Etzel").Despite Arab opposition, the increased persecution of European Jews in the 1930s led to a marked increase in Jewish immigration. With the emergence of fascist regimes across Europe, Jews reverted to being non-citizens, deprived of all civil and economic rights and subject to arbitrary persecution.
As countries came under Nazi rule or became Nazi allies (Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Slovakia and Slovenia were Nazi allies) the numbers of those wanting to flee grew more. Between 1929 and 1939, 250,000 Jews arrived in Palestine (5th Aliyah). The majority of these, 174,000, arrived between 1933 and 1936, after which the British increasingly restricted immigration. Migration was again mostly from Europe and included professionals, doctors, lawyers and professors from Germany.
In 1933, the Nazis negotiated the Ha'avara Agreement, under which 50,000 Jews and $100 million of their assets would be moved to Palestine. In Palestine, Jewish immigration helped the economy to flourish. With the completion of the port at Haifa and its oil refineries, significant industry was added to the predominantly agricultural Palestinian economy. With the British enforcing quotas and the situation in Europe increasingly desperate, Jews were forced to resort to illegal immigration. Illegal immgration, (Aliyah Bet or 'Ha'apalah') was organized by the Mossad Le'aliyah Bet, and the Irgun. Jewish refugees arrived in secret by sea, or, to a lesser extent, overland through Syria.Increased Jewish immigration contributed to the large-scale Arab Revolt in Palestine (1936–1939), a largely nationalist uprising directed at ending British rule.
The British responded with the Peel Commission (1936–37), which recommended that an exclusively Jewish territory be created in the north and along much of the western coast, the rest becoming an exclusively Arab area. Jewish opinion was divided as to the merits of this scheme, but it was rejected outright by the Palestinian Arabs as the plan involved the removal of 225,000 Arab people and just 1,250 Jewish people from their homes.
The Woodhead Commission (1938) reported that the Peel Commission was unworkable and recommended setting up smaller Arab and Jewish zones, but this plan was rejected by both Arabs and Jews. 20 years later, the Jewish Agency leader, Ben-Gurion wrote: "Had partition [referring to the Peel Commission partition plan] been carried out, the history of our people would have been different and six million Jews in Europe would not have been killed — most of them would be in Israel". Ben-Gurion responded to the Arab Revolt with a policy of "Havlagah" - self-restraint and a refusal to be provoked by Arab attacks in order to prevent polarization. The Etzel group broke off from the Haganah in opposition to this policy.
With war in Europe increasingly likely, the British tried to placate the Arab population of Palestine. The White Paper of 1939, stated that with over 450,000 Jews having now arrived in Palestine, the Balfour Declaration aim of "a national home for the Jewish people" had been achieved. The White Paper recommended an independent Palestine, governed jointly by Arabs and Jews, be established within 10 years. The White Paper agreed to allow 75,000 Jewish immigrants into Palestine over the period 1940–44, after which migration would require (unlikely) Arab approval. Both the Arab and Jewish leadership rejected the White Paper. In March 1940 the British High Commissioner for Palestine issued an edict banning Jews from purchasing land in 95% of Palestine.
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