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Israel & The Balfour Declaration

Summary: The Balfour Declaration expressed British recognition of the Jewish connection to 'Palestine' and desire to work for a restored homeland for Jews. 99 years have passed. History since then?

Ninety nine years ago on the 2nd November 1917, Lord Balfour, Foreign Secretary of the British Government, wrote a letter that expressed explicit British support to facilitate a Jewish homeland in the Middle East.

The landmark Balfour Declaration as it became known, is viewed as one of the founding documents of the State of Israel that was birthed some years later in 1948.

The full text of the Balfour Declaration is reproduced here:

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.


Arthur James Balfour
Written to Lord Rothschild, Zionist Federation

However, the Balfour Declaration and the British Government of the time, are now being challenged by Palestinian representatives almost a century later.

These voices opposed to the Declaration seek "to remind the world and particularly Britain that they should...atone for the big crime Britain committed against the Palestinian people."

It is important to understand the historical context to the Balfour Declaration, its validity as an authoritative declaration of British intent and subsequent endorsement by the nations.

Doing so will expose the fallacy of this preposterous Palestinian claim, showing that the modern state of Israel has a genuine legal and historical basis.

The Will Of The Nations

The Ottoman Empire had been the major Middle East power since the 16th century and the Holy Land, with the surrounding areas, including parts of Europe, were under the rule of the Ottomans.

That hegemony was challenged in the First World War, when the Ottomans, in axis with the Germans, were defeated and were forced by the victors to concede territory across the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The Ottoman Empire was over.

In London, April 1920, it was decided by the leading nations and victorious allies that the former Ottoman administrative area of 'Palestine' would come under British Mandatory Rule.

Two months later in June of 1920, the San Remo conference took place in Italy. This significant meeting upheld all that had been agreed two months earlier in London and also ratified its commitment to uphold the intent of the Balfour Declaration, i.e. The creation of a Jewish homeland.

Then in 1922, the League of Nations, a meeting of 52 nations, convened and formalised the Mandate of Palestine. The main thrust of this was for Britain to implement the intentions of the Balfour Declaration, made five years earlier, vis-a-vis, the "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

The Mandate was even more direct in recognising the Jewish historical right and connection to the Land when it stated: "reconstituting their National Home in that country", hereby acknowledging the unbreakable Jewish tie to their historic land. (Emphasis mine)

Land was allotted to the Jewish cause that included the territory of Transjordan to the east of Palestine. The British were to make good on their promises and the intents of the League of Nations.

The Partitions Of The Land (Reneged Promises)

Sadly, throughout the years of the Mandate, until 1947 when the British left Palestine for good, promises were reneged on, allotted territory for the Jews denied and given to the Arabs instead. The land that had been designated for the Jewish homeland had been pulled back to a fraction of the original division. All of Transjordan was given to the Arabs, not the Jews. The United Nations partition in 1947 failed the Jews in upholding the former promises given to them.

It is a tragic fact that Britain had the momentous task to facilitate the prophetic ingathering of the Jewish people but largely failed.

At first they tried to make good in the Balfour Declaration and Mandate. After a while however, under Arab pressures, violence and rioting, Jews were severely limited in the quotas of immigrants allowed in to settle. And this at a time of the rise of Nazism and rampant anti-semitism across Europe.

The State of Israel was declared by David Ben Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister, on May 14th 1948. The Land that had been promised and agreed upon by the original British Balfour Declaration and League of Nations had been much diminished. Even what the Jews retained, they were forced on the first day of the new state to fight to keep.

The Arabs for their part rejected any notion of their own state as long as the Jews were in the region and to this day have fought one war after another to destroy the Jewish state. If they had agreed to co-exist, there is no doubt that the Arabs who became the Palestinians in the 20th Century would have had their own state by now. In fact, many times over.

The Jews did not usurp an historical country called Palestine, for there was never such a country. 'Palestine' was a backwater, an adminstrative outpost of successive conquering powers, last of all the Ottoman Empire.

The Arabs of Palestine never called themselves 'Palestinians'; rather they acknowledged their ties to Syria, Egypt, Arabia and other Arab lands. 'Palestinian' exclusively referred to Jews in the early 20th century. Only later was Palestinian used to identify with a distinct Arab nationalism within Israel.

Not as colonialists, but as oppressed refugees fleeing persecution and as visionary builders of their ancient Land did the Jews come to Palestine. This is an important point ignored by the false Palestinian narrative.

Regardless of the British betrayal, the Balfour Declaration remains an important document in Israel's modern history; it was authoritative and the will of the world's leading nations of the time. It recognised the Jewish historical and legal connection to the Land, their rights of return and the desire to allow them self-determination and to pursue their aspirations once more as a reconstituted people.

These resolutions of the nations and founding documents that recognise the Jewish right to settlement and sovereignty in Palestine have not been rescinded, they remain valid in international law and more importantly, in the eyes of God, who has established the Jewish people back in their own land. The Land He swore to give to Abraham and his descendants after Him " everlasting possession."

11 In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea. 12 He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth."
Isaiah 11:11-12

About Ian Jupp

Ian Jupp is Executive Director of Return To Zion Ministries.
Ian's experience as a communicator, pastor, writer, teacher and his understanding of the Middle East, Israel, The Church and God's purposes, place him in a unique position to provide timely commentary on the urgent, prophetic events that are unfolding in our day.
Read More About Ian

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