Policy of Deceit: Britain and Palestine, 1914-39 Peter Shambrook
During WWI, successive British governments first promised Palestine to the Arabs; two years later the British cabinet promised the same region to the global Jewish community. Post-WWI, British governments steadfastly denied that Palestine had been promised to the Arabs, and consistently supported the World Zionist Organisations’ (WZO) efforts to create a Jewish State.
For ‘maintenance of empire control’ reasons, Britain deliberately inaugurated a contradictory, double game, integrating the promise to the WZO (Balfour Declaration) into international law in the Mandate document (July 1922), while paying lip-service, and only lip-service, to its other official Mandatory responsibility (‘a sacred trust of civilisation’), to work to establish Palestinian self-government. Sir Martin Gilbert’s assessment can hardly be contested: ‘The centre piece of British mandatory policy was the withholding of representative institutions for as long as there was, in Palestine, an Arab majority’.
Thus, Britain’s Mandate policies (1922-1948) specifically encouraged division between the Arab majority and Jewish minority communities. That amoral, deceitful policy led directly and inevitably to the civil war of 1948, to the Nakba, the destruction of Palestinian society, the establishment of the State of Israel, and the expulsion of the majority of Palestine’s indigenous population.
For the past 75 years, all British governments, without distinction, have not shown one iota of regret or acknowledged any responsibility for their predecessors’ consistently partial, misguided policies.
Could ‘acknowledgement’ of Britain’s broken promise, unimaginable at present, be one of the initial stepping stones towards a new future for the region, or must the war for Palestine continue for a further century?