No category

The history of the State of Israel

1 January 1970

The Nazi regime led by Adolf Hitler took the life of millions of Jewish men, women and children. The longing for their own homeland is great amongst the Jewish people. Many of the survivors therefore decided to settle in the area that at the time was called Palestine. In 1948 they officially proclaimed the independence of the State of Israel.n

The First World War

nThe Jewish population returning to the Promised Land, after the Second World War, played an important role in the establishment of present-day Israel. Quite often, however, we tend to overlook the First World War. A war that played a crucial role in the history of this young state.nnDuring the First World War Palestine was still part of the Ottoman Empire. This was an Islamic empire founded in the fourteenth century. Many Arab tribes wanted to break away from the Ottoman rule and started to rise up in revolt against it. Since the Ottoman Empire was on the side of the Germans, the British and the French supported these Arab tribes.n

The Sykes-Picot Agreement

nBoth the United Kingdom and France wanted more than just help the Arab tribes. In May 1916 both superpowers therefore signed a secret agreement, officially called the Sykes-Picot Agreement. This agreement covered all aspects about their sphere of influence in South-West Asia if they would succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empire.nnThe Sykes-Picot agreement was never implemented but was replaced by the decision of the Allied Powers at San Remo in April 1920. The decision granted the British authority over Palestine and Mesopotamia, and the French over Syria and Lebanon. This division between the British and the French created serious tensions between the West and the Arab population. These tensions are still being felt today.nnMeanwhile, Great Britain engaged in a hopeless war. Both the Allied Powers and the Central powers had large Jewish populations. Most of them declared neutrality during the war. The British Government however, wanted to persuade the complete Zionist movement to side with them. For that reason, they came up with the Balfour Declaration, a year after the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The British Foreign Secretary, Balfour announced support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in the British Mandate Palestine.n

Jewish majority in Palestine

nMore and more European Jews decided to leave for Palestine. During the period between 1912 and 1923, more than 35,000 Jews settled in Palestine. This resulted in a significant and growing proportion of the total community’s population. In 1933 Adolf Hitler came into power in Germany . With his National Socialist regime e started implementing antisemitic measures in Germany More than 50,000 Jews fled to Palestine. However, limiting the immigration of Jews by the British ensured that only a small share of them was allowed to enter the territory. The rest was sent back to Europe.nnAfter the horrors of the Second World War, during which six million Jews were killed in the gas chambers, the United Nations was established. They recommended a partition of Mandatory Palestine at the end of the British Mandate. The resolution recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States and a Special International Regime for the city of Jerusalem.nnAlthough Jewish leaders accepted this UN partition plan, the Arab leaders rejected the proposal. They did not want an, in their view dishonest, partition of Palestine, but one state with Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as capital city. This led to the intensification of the civil war between the Jews and the Arabs.n

The Declaration of the State of Israel

nThe British Mandate for Palestine ended on May 15, 1948. The Jewish Agency led by David Ben Gurion decided to proclaim the State of Israel the day before. The American President Truman, the Soviet Union, South Africa and Ireland all recognized the brand-new State.nnFollowing the termination of the British Mandate, the surrounding Arab countries attacked Israel, aiming to destroy the new State of Israel. Many Arab inhabitants fled the region. Although the new State of Israel didn’t have its own army yet during this independence war, Israel defeated the Arabs. Israel was officially recognized as a member of the UN on May 11, 1949, as the 59th member state.