Saturday 22 July 2006

The land of the matter - The Middle-East Cauldron

Good Intentions

(All images courtesy of Wikipedia)

In November 2002, Jack Straw, the then UK Foreign Secretary lamented what the British Empire had bequeathed places it had vacated as the peoples of those lands sought self-determination.

Chief amongst those was that relating to the establishment of the Nation of Israel.

In 1917, in response to desires of the Zionist movement, the Foreign Secretary of that time Arthur James Balfour wrote to the British representative of the movement Lord Rothschild in the following words.

Foreign Office

November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours 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."

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours sincerely, Arthur James Balfour

This formed the basis of what is now known as the Balfour Declaration of 1917, where Britain expressed an interest in the creation of a state of Israel in the land of Palestine, but without prejudicing the rights of the pre-existing non-Jewish communities in that region.

As it transpires, Jack Straw indicates that the assurances given to the Palestinians were not met in an honourable way.

Over time there began conflicts between the Arabs and the Jews, part of which was assuaged by restricting the number of Jewish migrations and barring their acquisition of land.

The British Mandate for Palestine

On the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1922, Palestinian region which was part of the empire came under the administration of the British Empire as a mandate granted by the League of Nations.

Up till 1947, there were conflicts between the Arabs and the Jews at which point Britain was keen to withdraw from the mandate. UN Resolution 818 ended up with this patchwork plan for Israel and Palestine called the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine with the Jews having 55% of the land and the Palestinian Arabs having 45% even though they the Arabs were in the majority.

The UN voted 33 for, 13 against and 10 abstained including the United Kingdom; however, at this point the Balfour Declaration of 1917 had been unravelled, the fact is, there is no way of not prejudicing the existing communities’ rights in old Palestine – and if the Palestinian Arabs were to suffered a deprecation of rights, it should not have been with their majority in numbers ending up with the minority of the land.

Riots, wars, crises, uprisings ensued, which are fully tabulated in the link provided – Arab-Israeli Conflicts.

Herein lays the general framework of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


The conflict of Biblical promise with current realities.

A look at the map of Israel in the biblical times and shows that Gaza which once happened to be the land of Philistines might be the only place the Israeli would be willing to cede of all current Israeli land if the extreme Zionists have their way.

It also shows that the settlers who were unsettled last year did not have any ancient claim to that land for the settlement of the children of Israel. Other maps show changes to that landscape in the 20th Century.

Israel Today

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