Why was almost 80% of the Mandate territory of Palestine given to Arab Jordan?
The French occupation of Syria brought nationalists to Amman where they called on Abdullah, Sharif Hussein’s second son, to recover Syria. In response, Abdullah led a force of tribesman in November 1920 to a small town of Maan in the Kingdom of Hejaz, situated today in southern Lebanon. He waited for three months in Maan for the British reaction which worried them that he might complicate their situation in Transjordan where their presence was only nominal.
Britain finally took a decision by 1921 whereby Palestine was to be included in the formal Palestine Mandate. Moreover, as a gesture to Britain’s wartime promises with Arabs, they decided to exempt the territory of Transjordan from the provisions of mandate related to the Jewish National Home. In return, they asked Abdullah to abandon fighting for Syria and instead took charge of the administration of British-controlled Transjordan.
A British memorandum was presented to the League of Nations in 1922 where it was affirmed that the mandate document and its provisions were not pertinent to the territory separated by the British known as Transjordan. This was 80% of the mandate land which was taken away from the Jews as their prospective homeland to their much agitation.
In a conference of British official in Cairo, it was finalized that Abdullah would be given the government of Transjordan, supervised by the British high commissioner in Palestine. A part of the conference envisaged:
“… establishing a Jewish National Home in Palestine west of the Jordan and a separate Arab entity in Palestine east of the Jordan. Abdullah, if installed in authority in Transjordan, could preside over the creation of such an Arab entity.”
In March of 1921, Abdullah signed a formal agreement with the British colonial secretary Winston Churchill along with Lawrence who met in Jerusalem for the purpose.
The formal recognition by the British came in 1923 where Transjordan was declared to be a government under the rule of ‘emir’ Abdullah. However, nothing was made clear concerning the standing of his domain. In Anglo-Transjordanian Agreement of 1928, the territory was recognized as an ‘emirate’. Transjordan was formally made independent from the UK in a treaty signed in 1946 which also stated “perpetual peace and friendship” between British and Jordanian Arabs while assuring emirate a continued British support. The same year, the title of Abdullah was changed to ‘king’ from ‘emir’, endorsed by his parliament and the name of the country was also changed to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.