The Balfour Declaration was a letter from British Foreign Minister Arthur James Lord Balfour, approved by the Cabinet and on behalf of the British government, endorsing the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. It was given to Lionel Walter Rothschild—who was the 2nd Lord Rothschild and an unofficial leader of the British Jewish community—to bring to the Zionist Federation.
This letter was drafted after discussions in the British Cabinet and consultation with Zionist leaders. The letter represented the first political recognition of Zionist aims by a major power.
In April, 1920, following the end of World War I, the Allies met in San Remo, Italy, to decide on the division of territory acquired from the Ottomans as a result of the war.
Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan actively participated, with the United States present as a neutral observer.
Among the issues that the Conference dealt with was the allocation of Class “A” League of Nations Mandates to former Ottoman territories in the Middle East.
The Mandate System had been incorporated into the League of Nations charter in 1919. Class “A” Mandates referred to territories that would be administered for a relatively short period of time by an Allied nation, but which were considered to be ready to receive independence before very long.
Great Britain received the Mandate for Palestine. The Resolution incorporated the Balfour Declaration into this Mandate.
The San Remo Resolution was the first international legal document that recognized the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. This resolution gave the Jewish people exclusive political rights in Palestine.
The Resolution constituted a predecessor to the more detailed Mandate for Palestine that followed two years later.
The Mandate for Palestine gave effect to the April 1920 decision of the victorious powers at the San Remo Conference in favor of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
Britain was assigned as Mandatory and the Mandate was unanimously approved by the League of Nations on July 1922.
It drew upon the Balfour Declaration, affording recognition to “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” It called for “close settlement” by Jews on the land and conferred upon Britain responsibility for “putting into effect” the terms of the Declaration.
The Mandate is an article of international law and has never been superseded.
The laboriously-negotiated, much debated resolution that formed the basis for subsequent Israeli-Arab negotiations.
For an analysis of this resolution – Click here to read
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