How did the Arab territory of Transjordan come into being?
The 1922 White Paper (also called the Churchill White Paper) was the first official manifesto interpreting the Balfour Declaration. It was issued on June 3, 1922, after investigation of the 1921 disturbances. Although the White Paper stated that the Balfour Declaration could not be amended and that the Jews were in Palestine by right, it partitioned the area of the Mandate by excluding the area east of the Jordan River from Jewish settlement. That land, 76% of the original Palestine Mandate land, was renamed Transjordan and was given to the Emir Abdullah by the British.
The White Paper included the statement that the British Government:
- … does not want Palestine to become “as Jewish as England is English”, rather should become “a center in which Jewish people as a whole may take, on grounds of religion and race, an interest and a pride.”
After the partition, Transjordan remained part of the Palestine Mandate and its legal system applied to all residents, both East and West of the Jordan River, who all carried Palestine Mandate passports. Palestine Mandate currency was the legal tender in Transjordan as well as the area West of the river. This was the consistent situation until 1946, 24 years later, when Britain completed the action by unilaterally granting Transjordan its independence. Thus the British subverted the purpose of the Palestine Mandate, partitioned Palestine and created an independent Palestine-Arab state with no regard for the rights and needs of the Jewish population. According to Sir Alec Kirkbride, the British representative in the area, Transjordan was:
- … intended to serve as a reserve of land for use in the resettlement of Arabs once the National Home for the Jews in Palestine, which [Britain was] pledged to support, became an accomplished fact. There was no intention at that stage of forming the territory east of the River Jordan into an independent Arab state.
In 1925, the British added 60,000 sq. km. of desert to eastern Transjordan forming an “arm” of land to connect Transjordan with Iraq and to cut Syria off from the Arabian Peninsula. The British continued to favor exclusive Arab development east of the Jordan River by enacting restrictive regulations against the Jews, even when Arab leaders sought Jewish involvement in the development of Transjordan.