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What is the Balfour Declaration and Why is it Important?

Poushali Ganguly Mar 3, 2019
Get information on what exactly was the motive behind the Balfour Declaration and why it was subject to so many controversies.
The Balfour Declaration of 1917 on November 2, 1917 was a highly official and secretive formal statement of policy by the British government passed on the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire as the repercussion of World War I. The letter revealed the situation that was accepted by all the officials at a British Cabinet meeting held on October 31, 1917.
The situation was something to this effect that the British government endorsed Zionist plans for a National home for the Jewish people within Palestine but then there was this condition according to which no such thing could be done which might bias the rights of communities that already inhabit that place.

Why was the Balfour Declaration Drafted

Often this Declaration is considered to be the beginning of the process that consequently led to the formation of Israel. It is said that it was definitely a part of the British ambitions to gain more power apart from sympathy towards the Zionists.
It happened so that during World War I Britain required support of the Jewish people who were quite a majority in Germany and Austria- Hungary. So to gain the support of the Zionists who were otherwise neutral, this declaration was drafted with the aid of American President Woodrow Wilson who was supporting Zionism strongly.
The second reason was that Britain had to protect the sea route to India, which went en route the Suez Canal and the British economy was dependent on it to quite an extent. Therefore keeping the necessities in mind it started supporting Zionism since that was the flaring issue that time that the small nations have to be given scope enough to self-dependent.
So Britishers took the easiest way to ensure a strong British influence in the eastern region of the Suez Canal. Additionally this was one way to uproot the Ottoman Empire from the Levant who had been ruling that part for long.

Why is it called So?

The Balfour Declaration is called so because it was a letter written by the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Rothschild in which the British Government announced their support for Palestine to be made the homeland of the Jewish people for the first time. This declaration was a result of years of careful contemplation and compromise.
The people who were involved in the issuance of the statement were Chaim Weizmann and Nahum Sokolow, who were the principal Zionist leaders based in London.
Though the Britishers were supporting the cause of Zionists who should have been an independent country long before as they were always under a threat of anti-Semitism, yet when these leaders had asked for the reconstitution of Palestine as "the" Jewish national home, the Declaration revealed the loopholes and could not meet the expectations of the Zionists.

Its Fate

In the year 1920, the Declaration was taken as a part of the San Remo Agreement and later in the year 1922, precisely July 24th the declaration was admitted into the mandate from which Britain for the time being administered Palestine. The White Paper of 1939 nullified the Zionist friendly attitude of Britain and thus the Declaration was suspended.

Controversies Surrounding the Declaration

There were many controversies surrounding the Balfour Declaration since Britain did not have any sincere interest of providing the Jews with an independent nation.
The antagonism kept on increasing everyday against the Zionist policies as the Arabs, also started feeling threatened and cheated by Britain, who were cooperating with the latter with the hope that they would be able to establish their empire from the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf as a reward for helping Britain against the Ottoman rule.