In May 1916, the Ottoman Empire was collapsing. Diplomats from the imperial powers, Sir Mark Sykes of Britain and Georges Picot of France, secretly carved out the Middle East region with an arbitrary ‘line in the sand’. It became the basis of the League of Nations plan of July 1922 – with consequences still felt today.
It was the Balfour Declaration of 2 November 1917, whose centenary will be marked this year that determined the fate of the people of Palestine, the land between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. Sir Arthur Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, wrote to Lord Rothschild and stated that the British government views “with favour the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine … it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…”
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