A step-by-step reappraisal of the irreversible journey from the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to the partition of Palestine in 1947

Storey, Robert W. (2019) A step-by-step reappraisal of the irreversible journey from the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to the partition of Palestine in 1947. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


The central argument of this thesis is that the issuance of the Balfour Declaration and the British Mandate started an irreversible train of events leading 'inevitably' to Partition. Starting first with a critical analysis of the Balfour Declaration and its incorporation into the British Mandate, the thesis explores the reasoning behind Britain’s readiness to issue the Declaration at the height of WWI. It throws fresh light on arguments for and against Partition offered by a range of Commissions, Committees and Governments. The thesis examines the years during which the conflicted parties were increasingly at odds until, on the eve of WWII, Britain reversed its former pro-Zionist policy in favour of Palestinian Arabs. Now the work concentrates on the post-war years when a war-weary Britain acknowledged that the UN should decide. In turn, the UN established the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) hence later chapters consist of a close examination of UNSCOP’s role, its extensive investigations in the Middle East and Europe and interviews with key players from both sides of the divide. The final chapter centres around UNGA members’ political manoeuvrings, temporary realignment, disparate views and the last unavoidable step to Partition. There are two main versions of Arab-Jewish history. First, there is a version claiming that Jews were the primary victims of Arab violence. This traditional version is supported by a number of Zionist historians. The second version claims that Arabs were the hapless victims of a deliberately orchestrated Jewish takeover of Palestine. This version is supported by pro-Palestinian and revisionist Zionist historians. Although previous researchers have explored some of the above events either tangentially in a related area or as part of a broader study, this thesis draws many of its conclusions from a large body of verbatim evidence that had informed Commission and Committee Reports. It should be emphasised that this thesis is a critical, but non-judgmental, analysis of Partition. It concludes that when, in 1947, the UNGA formally approved Partition, it was a legal acknowledgement that Partition was already a near-accomplished fact.

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