UNITED KINGDOM 
Balfour Declaration, (November 2, 1917), statement of British support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” It was made in a letter from Arthur James Balfour, the British foreign secretary, to Lionel Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild (of Tring), a leader of the Anglo-Jewish community.
Though the precise meaning of the correspondence has been disputed, its statements were generally contradictory to both the Sykes-Picot Agreement (a secret convention between Britain and France) and the Ḥusayn-McMahon correspondence (an exchange of letters between the British high commissioner in Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon, and Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī, then emir of Mecca), which in turn contradicted one another (see Palestine, World War I and after).
- November 2, 1917
The Balfour Declaration, issued through the continued efforts of Chaim Weizmann and Nahum Sokolow, Zionist leaders in London, fell short of the expectations of the Zionists, who had asked for the reconstitution of Palestine as “the” Jewish national home. The declaration specifically stipulated that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” The document, however, said nothing of the political or national rights of these communities and did not refer to them by name. Nevertheless, the declaration aroused enthusiastic hopes among Zionists and seemed the fulfillment of the aims of the World Zionist Organization (see Zionism).
The British government hoped that the declaration would rally Jewish opinion, especially in the United States, to the side of the Allied powers against the Central Powers during World War I (1914–18). They hoped also that the settlement in Palestine of a pro-British Jewish population might help to protect the approaches to the Suez Canal in neighbouring Egypt and thus ensure a vital communication route to British colonial possessions in India.
The Balfour Declaration was endorsed by the principal Allied powers and was included in the British mandate over Palestine, formally approved by the newly created League of Nations on July 24, 1922. In May 1939 the British government altered its policy in a White Paper recommending a limit of 75,000 further immigrants and an end to immigration by 1944, unless the resident Palestinian Arabs of the region consented to further immigration. Zionists condemned the new policy, accusing Britain of favouring the Arabs. This point was made moot by the outbreak of World War II (1939–45) and the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.
On November 2, 1917 a letter was delivered by hand from Britain’s foreign secretary, Lord Balfour, to Lionel Walter, the second Baron Rothschild, at his home at 148 Piccadilly, a prestigious address if ever there was one.
A question rarely asked is why Balfour addressed his letter to Lord Rothschild, rather than to Sir Stuart Samuel, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. After all, the Board of Deputies, its origins going as far back as 1760, was – and remains – the body officially representative of Britain’s Jewish community.
The Board has been storm-tossed on many occasions during its long life. The reason it was not the recipient of Balfour’s historic communication is connected with a particularly tempestuous episode in its history.
- Arthur James Balfour, 1st earl of Balfour
- Lionel Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild
- Nahum Sokolow
- Chaim Weizmann
The Second Balfour Declaration
President Bush’s letter recognizing that Israel will not withdraw to the 1967 Green Line, and rejecting the Palestinian right of return, has helped bring about a rapprochement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
The Balfour Declaration was mentioned by almost every Palestinian spokesman who commented at week’s end on last Wednesday’s press conference held by U.S. President George Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the White House, in which Bush declared that America does not recognize the refugees’ right of return and does not think it is realistic to expect Israel to return to the Green Line.
In Palestinian national history, the Balfour Declaration, issued on November 2, 1917, by the British foreign secretary, Lord Balfour, marks the advent of Zionism. (The key phrase of the declaration asserted: “His Majesty’s Government views with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”) The original text of the Palestinian National Covenant (the founding charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization) states that the only Jews who will be allowed to remain in Palestine after its liberation will be those who arrived in the country before the Balfour Declaration.
The typical Palestinian statement concerning the injustice of the Balfour Declaration is: “Those to whom the country doesn’t belong [Balfour and the British government] promised it to those to have no right to it [the Jewish people].”
There is hardly any Palestinian who has not heard about or read the Balfour Declaration, and it would be no great exaggeration to say that its content is better known to the Palestinian public than to the Israeli public. Against this background, for example, the headline in the Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam last Thursday stated: “Second Balfour Declaration exempts Israel from full withdrawal from the occupied territories.” Bassem Abu Samiya, from the Palestinian Information Ministry and a columnist for another paper, Al-Hayat al-Jadida, suggested calling President Bush’s statement the “Bushfour Declaration.”
Statements issued by the Palestinian Authority and remarks by Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala), cabinet ministers and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council [the parliament] in the past few days have invoked every possible dramatic metaphor: “Dangerous turning point,” “historic precedent,” “regression of decades,” “deterioration that will lead to terrible bloodshed,” “erasure of the whole political process since the Madrid conference and the Oslo Accord,” and “liquidation of the road map and its replacement with the Sharon plan.”
Sharon Plan (1977)
Ariel Sharon, Israel: Author
A plan put forth by Israeli Agriculture Minister and former general Ariel Sharon, and approved by the Government of Israel on 2 October 1977, for a major extension of Jewish settlement in the West Bank. It was partially based on the Allon Plan. The plan was made up of four components. The first was establishment of urban settlements on the western reaches of the Samaria Mountains (the so-called Western Seam Zone). The second was an extension of Jewish settlement in the Jordan Valley (Eastern Seam Zone), which began under the Allon Plan. The third was encircling East Jerusalem with a “belt” of Jewish settlements. The fourth was the building of roads linking the Western and Eastern Seam Zones, along with settlements to help secure them. Sharon presented four main objectives he wished to achieve with the plan: preventing the Palestinian civilian population from entering Israel; creating a buffer between West Bank Palestinians and Arab-populated Israeli territories north and west of it; controlling the high ground overlooking the Israeli coastal plain, where most of the country’s population and industrial capacity is located; and ensuring the security of Lydda International Airport.