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Throughout 1947, the United Nations Special Commission on Palestine examined the Palestinian question and recommended the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. On November 29, 1947 the United Nations adopted Resolution 181 (also known as the Partition Resolution) that would divide Great Britain’s former Palestinian mandate into Jewish and Arab states in May 1948 when the British mandate was scheduled to end.
The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry in 1946 was a joint attempt by Britain and the United States to agree on a policy regarding the admission of Jews to Palestine. In April, the Committee reported that its members had arrived at a unanimous decision. The Committee approved the American recommendation of the immediate acceptance of 100,000 Jewish refugees from Europe into Palestine. It also recommended that there be no Arab, and no Jewish State. The Committee stated that "in order to dispose, once and for all, of the exclusive claims of Jews and Arabs to Palestine, we regard it as essential that a clear statement of principle should be made that Jew shall not dominate Arab and Arab shall not dominate Jew in Palestine." U.S. President Harry S Truman angered the British Government by issuing a statement supporting the 100,000 refugees but refusing to acknowledge the rest of the committee's findings. Britain had asked for U.S assistance in implementing the recommendations. The U.S. War Department had said earlier that to assist Britain in maintaining order against an Arab revolt, an open-ended U.S. commitment of 300,000 troops would be necessary. The immediate admission of 100,000 new Jewish immigrants would almost certainly have provoked an Arab uprising.
These events were the decisive factors that forced Britain to announce their desire to terminate the Palestine Mandate and place the Question of Palestine before the United Nations . . .
In November 1917, the British government issued the Balfour Declaration, announcing its intention to facilitate the "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.
The Balfour Declaration by the British government in 1917, enshrined in a League of Nations mandate in 1920, had said that a "national home for the Jewish people" would be founded in Palestine, while preserving the "civil and religious" rights of non-Jewish communities there. The British could not reconcile the conflicting principles.
There are two main schools of thought on the origins of the Balfour Declaration, one represented by Leonard Stein, the other by Mayir Vereté. What later became the conventional wisdom on the subject was first laid out by Leonard Stein in 1961 in his masterly survey The Balfour Declaration. This book provides a careful, detailed, and subtle account of the decision-making process that led Britain to issue the Declaration, but it does not reach any clear-cut conclusions. The conclusion implicit in the narrative, however, is that it was the activity and the skill of the Zionists, and in particular of Dr. Chaim Weizmann, that induced Britain to issue this famous statement of support for the Zionist cause.
Leonard Stein’s book was subjected to an extended critique by Mayir Vereté of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in a notable article he published in 1970 on “The Balfour Declaration and its Makers.” According to Vereté the Declaration was the work of hard-headed pragmatists, primarily motivated by British imperial interests in the Middle East. Far from the Zionists seeking British support, it was British officials who took the initiative in approaching the Zionists.
Arthur James Balfour succeeded his uncle, Lord Salisbury, who had been his political mentor and champion. However, his initial interests were not political. He enjoyed music and poetry, and was first known as a renowned philosopher, publishing ‘A Defence of Philosophic Doubt’, ‘The Foundations of Belief’ and ‘Theism and Humanism’.
. . .
He had always been a delicate and poorly man . . .