What did the British do for Jordan at the end of the Mandate?
The Arab Legion of Transjordan was a British-organized, British-equipped, and British-led force seving the British-installed King Abdullah. On April 14, 1948 Abdullah of Transjordan announced that his legion would fight the Jews in Palestine “in real battles”. A few days later the British brought additional contingents of the Transjordan Arab Legion to Palestine, ostensibably “for police duty”. It was less than a month before the expiration of the Mandate and the British gave their solemn promise — in Jerusalem and in the Parliament in London — that the Arab Legion would be returned to Transjordan before the expiration of the mandate on May 15, 1948.
On May 18, 1948 the New York Post wrote of this action:
- The outrageous act of bringing the Arab Legion of Abdullah for policing duties a few days after Abdullah had declared that his Legion would fight the Jews in Palestine is probably unequalled in the annals of hypocrisy.
The British did not return the Legion to Transjordan. They considered that they had absolved themselves when they announced that upon the end of the mandate in Palestine, British officers would withdraw from leadership of the Legion for the period of fighting in Palestine. The Transjordan Arab Legion was involved in fighting against the Jews startingbefore the termination of the Mandate, including the infamous massacre of the defenders ofKfar-Etzion, south of Jerusalem. There the poorly armed Jewish settler-defenders tried tosurvive against the Legion with its British-supplied tanks, field guns and flame-throwers. They all perished in the attempt, either in the battle or in the slaughter that followedtheir surrender.
By the end of the fighting in 1948, the Transjordan Legion had seen more action than the forces of any other Arab state. Abdullah, backed by the British whose eyes were on Araboil and the Suez Canal, hoped to have the entire country for himself. But Israel successfully defended its territory, so he could only annex to Transjordan the part of the country that was intended for the Palestinian Arabs and which was outside thecease-fire lines of Israel's War for Independence. Other Arab countries had other ideas andEgypt ended up with the Gaza Strip area.
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