When a united Arab nation seemed impossible to realize, more and more Arab nationalists in Palestine began working for an independent Palestinian state instead. It did not necessarily mean a purely Arab or purely Muslim state. Jewish minorities have long existed in the Arab world, and Christian Arabs made up at least one-fifth of the population of Palestine at that time.
The Arabs were politically divided, and they had different views on the Jewish immigrants who already existed in Palestine. In general, however, they saw the Zionists’ plans for a Jewish state as a threat to the Palestinian state they wanted to form.
The British took into account the concerns of the Palestinian Arabs and limited Jewish immigration and land acquisitions. Despite this, more and more Jewish settlements were established during the 1920s.
Refugee wave from Nazi Germany
The main political leader of the Palestinians during most of his tenure was the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini (mufti = Muslim religious leader). The mufti came to play a fateful role. He wanted to strengthen the image of Jerusalem as a holy place for all the Muslims of the world and in this connection pointed out the Jews as enemies of Islam.
Amin al-Husseini also cultivated contacts with anti-Semites in Europe. European anti-Jewish propaganda was translated into Arabic and spread. Since Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Jewish immigration to Palestine increased sharply.
The Arab dissatisfaction with immigration was expressed in a revolt in 1936–1939. It was directed at both the Jewish colonists and the British government. Britain brutally crushed the revolt. Amin al-Husseini, who played a leading role in the revolt, fled, first to Lebanon, then to Iraq. A British commission now proposed for the first time that Palestine be divided into an Arab and a Jewish part, but both Arabs and Jews said no.
The Zionists’ thoughts on a Jewish state gained immense weight during World War II, when the majority of Europe’s Jewish population was murdered by the Nazis. The former mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, went to Germany and from there led the propaganda that the Nazis directed to the Arab world.
In Palestine, however, the British continued to quota immigration. To force Britain to open Palestine’s borders to Jewish immigration (which would also lead to a majority of Jews), two terrorist groups from the Jewish right, Irgun and Stern, began fighting the British regime by force. Irgun blew up, among other things, the British headquarters in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, resulting in more than 90 deaths.
The Arab League. UN Resolution 181
After World War II, according to listofusnewspapers, the Arab League was formed. Its first members were Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Transjordan. In 1946, the Arab League demanded the formation of an independent Arab state in Palestine. In it, the Jews would be represented according to a quota system.
In early 1947, the leading organization of the Palestinian Arabs announced that it was preparing a guerrilla war against a Jewish state, should one be formed. The same year, Britain handed over the Palestinian question to the UN.
David Ben-Gurion, who would become Israel’s first prime minister, argued that Palestine should become a Jewish state with Jews and Arabs united. The UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181, which proposed that Palestine be divided into a Jewish and an Arab state. The Jewish state would cover 55 percent of Palestinian territory and the Arab state 44 percent. Jerusalem would be placed under UN administration. Among the countries that voted for the resolution was the Soviet Union.
The Jews accepted the resolution, but the Arabs inside and outside Palestine did not. The Arab states instead proposed a “democratic unitary state”. Fighting had now broken out in Palestine between Arabs and Jews.
In April 1948, the Arab village of Deir Yassin was attacked by Irgun and Stern. About 250 Arabs were killed. The massacre was responded to with Arab retaliation.
The state of Israel is proclaimed and attacked
On May 14, 1948, the day before the end of British rule, Labor leader David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the Jewish state of Israel. The following day, troops from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, as well as symbolic forces from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, attacked.
A chaotic time followed. The Jews of Israel demanded that the UN intervene. However, the Security Council only managed to negotiate two short periods of ceasefire, which the parties used to strengthen their armies. In September, Jewish terrorists from the Stern League murdered the UN mediator in Jerusalem, the Swede Folke Bernadotte.
The war, which formally lasted until the summer of 1949, was a success for Israel, which drove back the invaders and expanded its territory. When the war was over, the new state covered 77 percent of the Palestinian territory. The fighting ended with a series of ceasefire agreements, but no peace was concluded; As of this writing, only Egypt and Jordan have concluded peace agreements with Israel – 1979 and 1994 respectively.