The British Mandate for Palestine
The focal point of the British Mandate for Palestine between two world wars was the rising tide of Jewish immigration from Europe to Palestine followed by land buying and organizing of the Jewish settlements. Naturally, such British policy generated increasing protests and organized resistance by the Arab Palestinians of all social strata for the very reason that they feared that the massive influx of the Jews would ultimately result in the creation of a Jewish nation-state in Palestine on their land what would also result in the expulsion of the Palestinians. For that reason, the Arab Palestinians constantly have been opposing the British Mandate which thwarted their aspirations for and right to self-administration. However, in general, they opposed the massive Jewish immigration to Palestine as it could threaten their position in the country.
Nevertheless, at the same time, it was the British encouragement of the Arab patriotic nationalism in which T. E. Lawrence participated by fostering and increasing sense of the Arab identity among the Palestinians. The essence of the issue was that the Palestinians began to feel threatened, especially by very well-organized Jewish Zionist quasi-state institutions as, for example, Histadruth and Haganah.
During the British Mandate, the first open clashes between the Arabs and the Jewish immigrants started already in 1920 continuing in the next year as well. The result of those clashes was the equal numbers of killed persons from both sides. It was obvious that the British administration of the Mandate was not able to prevent the clashes which just escalated in the coming years. The further interethnic complications in the 1920s have been provoked by the policy of the Jewish National Fund to buy large portions of land from absentee Arab Palestinian landowners with the eviction of the local Palestinians from it. As quite understandably, such displacements provoked increased tensions between the Jews and the Arabs which soon led to open violent confrontations between new settlers and old tenants.
A new moment and feature of violence between the Jews and the Palestinians started in 1928 in the holy city of Jerusalem. The violence started as a clash over their respective religious rights at the Western Wall – the Wall which is only remaining part of the Second Jewish Temple that is the holiest site in the Jewish religious tradition. Above the Western Wall exists a large plateau known as the Temple Mount that was the place of previous two Jewish temples at the time of Antique. Nevertheless, the same place is as well as sacred for the Muslims, who are calling it the Noble Sanctuary. Today, the place is known according to the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock located on its top. The latter, the Dome of the Rock is of extraordinary importance for all Muslims as they believe that the Dome marks the spot from which the Prophet Mohamed ascended to heaven on a winged horse (al-Buraq), that he tethered to the Western Wall, which has the horse name in the widespread Muslim tradition.
The culmination of the conflict started on August 15th, 1929 when the members of the Betar Jewish youth movement organized demonstrations with raising a Zionist flag over the Western War what directly provoked the Palestinians in Jerusalem. The Arab reaction was harsh as for the reason of fearing that the Noble Sanctuary was in direct danger, the Arabs attacked the Jews in Jerusalem, Safed, and Hebron. The violence lasted for a week with a result in 133 killed Jews and 115 killed Arabs with many wounded on both sides.
As a direct result of A. Hitler’s and his NSDAP rise to power on January 30th, 1933, the European Jewish immigration to Palestine drastically became increased. Of course, the new wave of Jewish immigration brought and the new waves of land buying and making new Jewish settlements on the Palestinian soil. Tensions have been intensified because the Jewish immigration to Palestine continued, as 80.000 Jews arrived from 1924 to 1931. In the years 1932−1938, some 200.000 Jews immigrated to Palestine as a result of anti-Semitism in Europe but particularly in Nazi Germany and Austria (which became annexed to Germany).
Therefore, the Palestinian resistance to the British Mandate under which the Zionist colonization of Palestine was increasing every day was systematic and reached its peak with the Palestinian uprising from 1936 to 1939. However, the uprising was finally suppressed by force by combined actions of the British authorities, the Zionist para-military troops, and the complicity of neighboring Arab regimes. Nevertheless, after the suppression of the uprising, the Brits have been forced to reconstruct the policy of their rule in Palestine for the very sake to keep the public order within an extremely tense interethnic environment. The Brits issued the White Paper in 1939 as an official statement of their policy of the Mandate by which both the future Jewish immigration and land buying became limited. In the same document, the Brits declaratively promised independence for the Arab Palestine. This document was regarded by the Jewish Zionists as a betrayal of the 1917 Balfour Declaration as well as anti-Semitic act taking into consideration the position of the Jews in Europe at the time who have been facing a holocaust. Nevertheless, the 1939 White Papers made the end of the British good relations with the Zionists. On another hand, the defeat of the Arab uprising in 1939 followed by the exile of the eminent political leaders of the Palestinians meant in practice that they are going to be politically disorganized in the coming crucial decade in which the future of Palestine had to be decided.
The solution plan by the UN
After the end of WWII, violence between the Arabs and the Jews in Palestine did not stop even became intensified. Particular hostility occurred between the Zionist different paramilitary detachments (militias) and the British military. The British solution was to formally try to get rid of the Mandate for Palestine and, therefore, London officially requested that newly established (in 1945) United Nations (the UN or the OUN) would decide the future of this Middle East country. However, in reality, the British Government had a hope that the UN would not be able to find a solution which could be successfully implemented in the practice, and as a consequence, the global security organization would finally return Palestine back to the UK in a legal form of a UN’s trusteeship.
In order to find the “best solution”, the UN-appointed in 1946 a special committee of representatives from different countries who went to Palestine in order to investigate the real situation as a foundation for the future “best solution”. At that time, as a matter of fact, within the borders of the British Mandate for Palestine, there were 1.269.000 Arab Palestinians compared to 608.000 Jewish settlers. The Jews had in possession c. 7% out of the total land area of Palestine acquired by purchase, amounting to c. 20% of the arable land.
The results of the investigation by the UN’s representatives could be presented in two major points:
- The members of the committee disagreed about the form of a political solution to the Palestinian Question.
- The majority of the committee members, however, decided that the country of Palestine has to be partitioned into two parts for the sake to satisfy the national aspirations and political requirements of both sides: the Zionist Jews and the Arab Palestinians.
Based on the official report by the special committee, the UN General Assembly voted on November 29th, 1947 to partition the area of the British Mandate for Palestine into two independent states: 1) one Jewish, and 2) one Arab Palestinian. Nevertheless, according to this UN’s partition plan, there were three basic anomalies:
- Palestine was divided in such a way that each of those two states would have a majority of its own ethnic population. However, several Jewish settlements were included in Arab Palestine while hundreds of thousands of Arab Palestinians had to live within Israel.
- The territory given to Israel would be bigger (56%) compared to the Arab Palestine (43%) excluding the area of the city of Jerusalem. Israel received a bigger territory on the prediction that after the proclamation of the independence of Israel increasing numbers of the Jewish immigrants will arrive to live in their nation-state.
- The areas of the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem have to form two international zones.
The consequences of the partition plan
There were several direct consequences of the 1947 UN partition plan concerning Palestine:
- The Zionist leadership officially accepted the UN partition plan but in reality, they hoped very much to expend the state’s borders of Israel on this or another way.
- The Arab Palestinians altogether with all surrounding Arabs in the region rejected to accept the UN plan and understood the voting by the UN General Assembly as an international betrayal of the justice and historical truth over Palestine. They shared a common opinion that the plan gave the Jews too much territory which they did not deserve.
- The Arabs considered the 1947 UN partition plan and according to it the proposed nation-state of the Jews as a settler colony and claimed that the plan was voted only because the Brits had permitted extensive Zionist-Jewish colonization of Palestine against the interests of the local Arab Palestinians who have been the clear majority on the land.
- The Arabs complained in general why the question of the nation-state of the Jews has been put on the international agenda at all.
- The violence between Arab Palestinians and the Zionist Jews started immediately after the partition plan was voted by the UN General Assembly. The Palestinian military detachments have been poorly organized and equipped in comparison to the Jewish that have been much better trained, equipped, and organized regardless of the fact that the Jewish forces were smaller. As a result, up to mid-April, the Zionist Jewish forces took control over most of the territory given to Israel by the UN and went to the offensive, occupying additional land beyond the partition borders.
Independence of Israel and the First Israeli-Arab War in 1948−1949
As it was pointed before, the United Kingdom found itself after WWII to be totally unable to resolve the growing conflict between different claims of the Palestinian Jews and Arabs and, therefore, London passed responsibility for the Mandate over to the OUN (est. 1945) which decided in 1947 on the partition of Palestine into two nation-states: one for the Jews and one for the Arab Palestinians. The focal point in this concern was that the stage was set for the settlement of the issue but, instead, on Friday, May 14th, 1948, the Brits evacuated Palestine, and the Zionists under the leadership of David Ben-Gurion (the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization and soon the first PM of the Zionist Israel) immediately announced Israel as an independent nation-state of the Jews emerging directly from the British Mandate for Palestine and fully at the expense of the founding of a Palestinian state. The proclamation of Israeli independence came into force at midnight on May 15th, 1948.
The Arab Palestinians, supported by other Arabs around Palestine, refused to accept Israel and in 1948−1949 they rose against a new state of Zionist Israel followed by the First Israeli-Arab War when neighboring Arab states of Syria, Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq invaded Israel for the reason to protect Palestine from the Zionists. Lebanon, as well as, declared war against Israel but did not invade the first Zionist state. Truly speaking, the neighboring Arab states had some territorial designs on Palestine. The most intense combats happened during the first two months of the war when it looked that Israel will lose the war. However, the turning point in the war started when the arms shipments from Czechoslovakia (via Yugoslavia) reached the Zionists in Israel and, therefore, the Zionist armed detachments finally became superior.
When in 1949, the armistice was signed, the immediate results of the First Arab-Israeli War have been:
- Around 700.000 Palestinian refugees, who became either expelled on the ethnic bases or had left (temporarily) their homes in fear.
- Israel conquered additional territory from Arab Palestine beyond its borders according to the UN partition plan in 1947.
- The territory of Palestine of the British Mandate became divided into three parts, each of them has been put under different political authority. The borders between those three political entities became, in fact, the boundaries according to the 1949 armistice – the so-called “Green Line”. The Zionist State of Israel took c. 77% of the territory of Palestine. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan occupied the land of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Egypt took control over the Gaza Strip.
- The Arab Palestinian nation-state designed by the UN in 1947 was not established (up today).
It is true that the exact number of the Palestinian refugees in 1947−1949 is an extremely contested issue followed by the question of the direct responsibility for their exodus. According to the testimonies, many Palestinians claimed that they have been simply physically expelled from their homes in accordance with the Zionist political design to get rid of Israel of its non-Jewish residents. However, on the other side, the official position concerning this problem by the Israeli authorities claims that those Palestinian refugees fled on orders from the Arab political and military leaders (similar happened with Kosovo’s Albanian refugees during the Kosovo War in 1998−1999). Nevertheless, there is documentary evidence that in June 1948, for instance, some 75% of the Palestinians took refuge due to the military actions done by the Jewish Zionist paramilitary troops and psychological actions for the sake to frighten the Arabs into leaving followed by many of direct expulsions. Historians recorded, for instance, that the largest single expulsion of the Palestinians during the First Arab-Israeli War happed in mid-July 1948 (around 50.000 from Lydda and Ramle). There are as well as several documented cases of massacres that led to large-scale Arab flight. For sure, the most terrible atrocity was at Dayr Yasin that was an Arab village near Jerusalem, where 125 Arab villagers were killed by the Zionist paramilitary.
The 1948−1949 First Arab-Israeli War began ending in an armistice without a peace accord. As a result of the war, West Palestine came under the rule of the Zionist Israel, the Gaza Strip was put under the Egyptian authority, and East Palestine became part of neighboring Jordan known as the West Bank.
In essence, the Zionist state of Israel was and still is seen by the Arabs (and Islamic Iran) as the last example of colonialism in the Arab part of the Middle East. However, from the Jewish point of view, the creation of an independent Israel from the Mandate gave to the European Jews the real opportunity to realize their 2000 years of national aspirations to have a nation-state. Nevertheless, since May 1948 up today, the Governments of Arab states took the Palestinian Question that came to symbolize for the Arab nations of the Middle East the injustice and frustrations which have been tremendously engendered by its involvement with the West (i.e. the USA and the UK) in the 20th-century history.
Reposts are welcomed with the reference to ORIENTAL REVIEW.
 Histadrut was a Jewish General Federation of Labour or a Zionist trade union established in Haifa in 1920 for the very purpose to organize Jewish workers in their requirements for better pay and generally better working conditions. Histadrut was the focal Jewish grass-roots movement and organization which provided great support for Mapai and the Jewish Agency. At the time when a Jewish nation-state still did not exist, the organization assumed responsibilities for its members’ health care and protection against poverty but as well as provided the most important economic services like banking or the marketing of members’ products, etc. Histadrut continued to maintain the majority of these functions after the creation of Israel in May 1948.
 Haganah means defense. It was a Jewish defense paramilitary organization in Palestine established in 1920 as a secret organization for the very purpose to defend newly established Jewish settlements from the attacks by the Arabs. However, it became gradually tolerated by the authority of the British Mandate for Palestine as a kind of supplementary police force. Haganah was put under the control of the Histadrut – the General Federation of Jewish Labour. At the time of violent clashes between the Jews and the Arabs in the second half of the 1930s, Haganah acquired a General Staff and established close links with the Jewish Agency. In fact, it formed the nucleus of the army of the new Zionist state of Israel [Munya M. Mardor, et al., Haganah: A Firsthand Account of the Jewish Underground Army in Palestine, New American Library, 1966].
 About the West Wall, see in [Meir Ben-Dov, Mordechai Naor, Zeev Aner, The Western Wall (Hakotel), Adama Books, 1983; Leonard Everett Fisher, The Wailing Wall, Atheneum, 1989;]. The First Jewish Temple was built up seven years by Solomon [Дејвид Џ. Голдберг, Џон Д. Рејнер, Јевреји: Историја и религија, Београд: CLIO, 2003, 44]. The Second Jewish Temple existed between 516 BC and 70 AD. The construction lasted from c. 537 to 516 BC on the Temple Mount. Most probably it was built up by Zerubbabel but it was crucially restored by Herod [Michael Lustig, Herod’s Temple, CreateSpace, 2017].
 It has to be noticed that there is no archaeological evidence for the First Jewish Temple.
 Oleg Grabar, The Dome of the Rock, Belknap Press, 2006; Carter Watson, Dome of the Rock, New World City, 2018.
 This movement was, in fact, a kind of pre-state organization of the Revisionist Zionists.
 Among the killed Jews, there were 64 of them in Hebron but their Arab neighbors saved many others. Nevertheless, as a final result of the violence was that the Jewish community of Hebron ceased to exist as its surviving members left for Jerusalem.
 Holocaust is the term which originally denotes a victim who has been burnt completely [Jan Palmowski, A Dictionary of Contemporary World History from 1900 to the present day, Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 277]. About the general history of the Jews including and the holocaust issue, see in [Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews, London: Orion Books Limited, 1993].
 See the map “UN Plan for Partition of Palestine, 29 November 1947” in [Ahron Bregman, A History of Israel, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, xii].
 About the British Mandate for Palestine, see in [Tom Segev, One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under British Mandate, London: Abacus, 2002].
 Ahron Bregman, A History of Israel, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, 44.
 The text of the Declaration of Independence, see in [Giedrius Drukteinis (sudarytojas), Izraelis, žydų valstybė, Vilnius: Sofoklis, 2017, 281‒284]. For the Arabs, Israeli independence is considered to be a catastrophe or in Arab – El Nakba [Alfonsas Eidintas, Donatas Eidintas, Žydai, Izraelis ir palestiniečiai, Vilnius: Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos institutas, 2007, 128].
 Jan Palmowski, A Dictionary of Twentieth-Century World History, Oxford‒New York, Oxford University Press, 1998, 471.
 See the map “Territories captured in 1948‒1949” in [Simcha Flapan, The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities, New York: Pantheon Books, 1987, 50].
 About the history of Jerusalem, see in [Martin Gilbert, The Routledge Historical Atlas of Jerusalem, Fourth Edition, London‒New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2008].
 Antoine Sfeir (eds.), The Columbia World Dictionary of Islamism, New York: Columbia University Press, 2007, 276.
 About the First Israeli-Arab War, see in [Ahron Bregman, A History of Israel, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, 47‒61].
 See [Dawid A. Assad, Palestine Rising: How I survived the 1948 Deir Yasin Massacre, USA: Xlibris Corporation, 2011].
 The West Bank is an area of Palestine westward of the Jordan River. According to the 1947 UN Partition Plan, the West Bank was designed as a separate Arab state alongside an independent state of Israel. The area was occupied by Jordan in 1948 during the First Israeli-Arab War and formally annexed next year. However, the annexation was recognized only by the UK and Pakistan. The West Bank was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War [Avshalom Rubin, The Limits of the Land: How the Struggle for the West Bank Shaped the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2017; Yonah Jeremy Bob, Justice in the West Bank? The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Goes to Court, Jerusalem−New York: Gefen Publishing House Ltd., 2019].