The Balfour Declaration was a statement of support made by the British Government
for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Eretz
Yisrael. It was sent in the format of a letter on November 2nd 1917,
written by British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour and sent to Lord
Lionel Rothschild, a senior member of the Jewish Community in England.
The declaration stated: "His Majesty's
Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home
for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the
achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be
done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish
communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in
any other country".
The background for the Declaration: At the outbreak of the First World War, the
leaders of the Zionist movement, including Dr. Chaim Weizmann and Nahum
Sokolow, had tried to recruit Great Britain in promoting the establishment of a
Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael. Britain was aiming to conquer Eretz Yisrael
during the war in order to guarantee its control over the northern Suez Canal.
The declaration was a means by which to raise American-Jewish support in the
American war effort, as well as Russian-Jewish support in the continuation of
the war against Germany.
The Balfour Declaration motivated the Arab National Movement to guarantee its own
control over Eretz Yisrael. Despite the declarationís statement that the status
and rights of Arab citizens will remain, they interpreted the declaration as
Britainís attempt to separate between a Jewish state in Western Eretz Yisrael
and the Kingdom of Jordan east of the Jordan River. Several Jewish groups also
expressed their objection, for the declaration had reduced the area of biblical
Eretz Yisrael by more than two thirds.
The declaration became a landmark in the history of the Zionist movement,
as it symbolized the first official support of a great power in its aims.
Furthermore, due to Britainís intention to conquer Eretz Yisrael from the
Turks, it was made possible for her to act on the basis of the declaration and
promote the establishment of a Jewish state within Eretz Yisrael. The declaration
was included in the mandate given to Great Britain in the 1920 San Remo
Conference, which was approved by the Commonwealth on July 24th
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