End of WW I in Palestine

How did World War I end in the Palestine region?

On December 9, 1917, five weeks after the Balfour Declaration, British troops led by General Sir Edmund Allenby took Jerusalem from the Turks; Turkish forces in Syria were subsequently defeated; an armistice was concluded with Turkey on October 31, 1918; and all of Palestine came under British military rule. British policy in the Arab lands of the now moribund Ottoman Empire was guided by a need to reduce military commitments, hold down expenditures, prevent a renewal of Turkish hegemony in the region, and safeguard Britain’s strategic interest in the Suez Canal. The conflicting promises issued between 1915 and 1918 complicated the attainment of these objectives.


Between January 1919 and January 1920, the Allied Powers met in Paris at the Paris Peace Conference to negotiate peace treaties with the Central Powers. At the conference, Amir Faysal, representing the Arabs, and Weizmann, representing the Zionists, presented their cases. Although Weizmann and Faysal reached a separate agreement on January 3, 1919, pledging the two parties to cordial cooperation, the latter wrote a proviso on the document in Arabic that his signature was tied to Allied war pledges regarding Arab independence. Since these pledges were not fulfilled to Arab satisfaction after the war, most Arab leaders and spokesmen have not considered the Faysal-Weizmann agreement as binding.

US President Wilson was not satisfied with the secret diplomacy of Britain and France regarding the Middle East (the Sykes-Picot Agreement), preferring a solution based on self-determination by the peoples of the region. He proposed an Inter-Allied Commission to visit the region to determine the local situation and desires of the people. The full commission was derailed by opposition from Britain and France, but the American section, known as the King-Crane Commission, went to the Middle East in 1919 and issued a report of its findings and recommendations. Unfortunately, the report was tainted by bias, was not officially published and had no impact on developments.

The British administration of Palestine got off to a rocky start, as demonstrated by the 1921 Interim Report on the Civil Administration of Palestine. That report reveals how the sparsely populated country was nonetheless subject to restrictions on Jewish immigration, especially following Arab violence.


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