History of the Balfour Declaration P.4 of 4.

As we have seen, controlling Palestine was perceived as vital for the British in order to protecting Suez that would ameliorate the German threat to Egypt and India. Accomplishing control made restoring the Jews a possible solution. Though, this was not going to be without its problems some of which related to Zionist understanding of restoration. Furthermore, economic restrictions in Russia encouraged the Jews to develop a more active approach to alleviating their conditions that ran parallel to their faith. British perception was that a grateful and industrious people would make the significant financial sacrifices to develop their land at little cost to Britain, whilst she governed. Nevertheless, there was discord within the Anglo-Jewish community between pro and anti-Zionists and within the Cabinet.

In the years that followed its signing, the Sykes-Picot Agreement became the target of bitter criticism. Lloyd George referred to it as an, ‘egregious’ and ‘foolish’ document; quite indignant that Palestine was ‘inconsiderately mutilated’ by the ‘carving knife of the Sykes Picot Agreement, which was a crude hacking of the Holy Land’.1

Another consideration was that by 1914, Zionists of the first and second aliyot had increased Palestine’s Jewish community to a critical mass of seventy-five thousand that gradually transformed it into a modern economy. The First Aliyah (also The agriculture' Aliyah) is a term used to describe a major wave of Zionist immigration to what is now Israel (aliyah) between 1882 and 1903. Jews who migrated to Ottoman Palestine in this wave came mostly from Eastern Europe and from Yemen. An estimated 25,000–35,000Jews immigrated to Ottoman Palestine during the First Aliyah. The second Aliyah that took place between 1904 and 1914, during which approximately 35,000 Jews immigrated into Ottoman-ruled Land of Israel, mostly from the Russian Empire, some from Yemen.

Thus by 1914, 80,000-90,000 Jews – approximately 6 to 8 (other sources cite up to 10 whereby a few only 6) per cent of the total population – lived in Palestine without the assistance of any international state or sponsor. These Jewish immigrants were legal migrants in the same way that 120,000 Jews legally migrated from Eastern Europe to the UK between 1880-1914, and they lawfully and openly bought land – much of it barren wasteland uncultivated by local Arab farmers – from absentee land owners (virtually all of the Jezreel Valley was purchased by Jews from only two people – the Turkish Sultan and a banker in Syria).

The Balfour declaration was approved, and communicated by Balfour to Rothschild on 2 November 1917. The Egyptian authorities wanted to forestall the international administration of the brown area laid down in the Sykes–Picot agreement. The best way to do this was to proclaim martial law for as long as military operations continued. The War Office concurred. An implication of this policy, in which the Foreign Office acquiesced for the moment, was that the Zionists should not be permitted to undertake in Palestine any activities in pursuance of the Declaration.

Thus there was a curious blend of sentiment (the romantic notion of the Jews returning to their ancient lands after 1,800 years of exile) and anti- Antisemitism (world Jewry was a force that could vitally influence the outcome of the war) whereby in the end the idea was to use President Wilson’s recognition of the Balkan nations’ right to self-determination – namely, freedom from Ottoman rule – in order to overcome his opposition to the implementation of this same policy in the Middle East. Thus, by supporting Zionist aspirations in Palestine, the Lloyd George Governement thus strove to compel Wilson to expand his policy regarding the 'small nations' from the European regions of the Ottoman Empire to its Asian territories.

On 23 October 1918, General Sir Edmund Allenby instructed his military administrators in that time Palestine – Colonel Philpin de Piépape (OET North), General Ali Riza Pasha El Rikabi (OET East) and Major-General Sir Arthur Money (OET South) – that ‘as far as possible the Turkish system of government will be continued and the existing machinery utilised’. He also reminded them that ‘the administration is a military and provisional one and without prejudice to future settlement of areas concerned’.¹ This meant that the iron wall of military routine against which Chaim Weizmann had beaten his head during his sojourn in Palestine remained firmly in place

On 9 October 1918, Weizmann had been received by Balfour, and obtained assurance, so Ormsby Gore reported to the Foreign Office on 15 November, that ‘when questions affecting Palestine came before the Allied Powers for decision the Zionists would be heard thereon’. Ormsby Gore also informed the Foreign Office that ‘the breach between Zionists and the League of British Jews has been healed,' and that the fruit of this collaboration would be a ‘memorandum regarding the definite aspirations of Jews in regard to Palestine.' As he had seen the draft, Ormsby Gore believed he could ‘say that the proposals are both wise and practical, though doubtless there will be some difficulty on the question of territorial boundaries’.³

Ormsby Gore referred to the Advisory Committee on Palestine, under the chairmanship of Herbert Samuel, in which prominent Zionists and non-Zionists participated, with Ormsby Gore acting as one of the committee’s consultants. He handed in the undated memorandum on 19 November. Its main points addressed the questions of the mandatory power, the boundaries of Palestine and the Jewish national home. Great Britain should receive the mandate for Palestine. As to the suggested boundaries see the memorandum stated that:

The boundaries of Palestine should be as follows:– In the North, the northern and southern banks of the Litani River, as far north as latitude 33°45˝. Thence in a south-easterly direction to a point just south of the Damascus territory and close to and west of the Hedjaz Railway. In the East, a line close to and west of the Hedjaz Railway. In the South, a line from a point in the neighbourhood of Akaba to El Arish. In the West, the Mediterranean Sea.

With respect to the national home, it was claimed that ‘Palestine should be placed under such political, economic, and moral conditions, as will favor the increase of the Jewish population, so that in accordance with the principles of democracy it may ultimately develop into a Jewish Commonwealth.'

Ormsby Gore was no longer sure about the wisdom and the practicability of the Committee’s proposals, at least those regarding the boundaries and the national home. The first ‘should not be published,' and as far as the second was concerned, ‘the word “Commonwealth” would be interpreted as “State” and give rise to great un- easiness among the non-Jews of Palestine.' It was better to omit the whole sentence. Sir Eyre Crowe concurred, and submitted that Weizmann should be approached to make the necessary alterations, to which Lord Hardinge added that these ‘should be accepted unconditionally.' Lord Robert Cecil feared that, even in its amended form, it contained passages that would ‘raise great trouble with the Arabs. As Feisal is here, could not Dr Weizmann talk it over with him?’⁴

Cecil’s fears were confirmed by three telegrams from Clayton. In the first, he warned that the Palestinian Arabs were ‘strongly anti-Zionist and […] very apprehensive of Zionist claims’, also because ‘local Zionists contemplate a much more extended programme than is justified by the terms of Mr Balfour’s declaration’.⁵ In the second telegram, Clayton explained that ‘Christian and Moslem antipathy to Zionism has been displayed much more openly since armistice the recent Anglo–French decla ration has encouraged all parties to make known their wishes by every available means in view of approaching Peace Conference’. He accordingly considered the ‘present time […] particularly unsuitable for special Zionist activity in Palestine which should be delayed until status of country and form of administration has been finally decided upon’.⁶ This equally applied, so Clayton ob- served in the third telegram a few days later, to ‘any further declaration of Zionist policy,' which ‘should be deferred until future of Palestine has been definitely settled’.⁷

Weizmann had another interview with Balfour on 4 December. He stated that the proposals of the Samuel Committee constituted ‘the necessary minimum of the Zionist demands.' They did not contain ‘anything new,' and merely sketched ‘the broad lines of the measures which would have to be taken in order to carry out in practice the policy laid down in the Declaration’. He also stressed once again that the Jewish problem could only rationally and permanently be solved through Zionism, but that this presupposed:

Free and unfettered development of the Jewish National Home in Palestine – not mere facilities for colonisation, but opportunities for carrying out colonising activities, public works etc. on a large scale so that we should be able to settle in Palestine about four to five million Jews within a generation, and so make Palestine a Jewish country. Such development is possible if sufficient elbow room is allowed to the Jewish people.  When Balfour ‘asked whether such a policy would be consistent with the Statement made in his Declaration that the interests of non-Jewish communities in Palestine must be safeguarded’, Weizmann replied that in ‘a Jewish Commonwealth there would be many non-Jewish citizens, who would enjoy all the rights and privileges of citizenship, but the preponderant influence would be Jewish.

There is room in Palestine for a great Jewish community without encroaching upon the rights of the Arabs.’ The foreign secretary agreed that ‘the Arab problem could not be regarded as a serious hindrance in the way of the development of a Jewish National Home’, but like Cecil ‘thought that it would be very helpful indeed if the Zionists and Feisal could act unitedly and reach an agreement on certain points of possible conflict’.⁸

The Eastern Committee took up the question of Palestine the next day. Curzon introduced the subject with an exposition of British commitments and the existing state of affairs. One of the difficulties with which the British were confronted was:

The fact that the Zionists have taken full advantage – and are disposed to take even fuller advantage – of the opportunity which was then offered to them […] their programme is expanding from day to day. They now talk about a Jewish State. The Arab portion of the population is well-nigh forgotten and is to be ignored. They not only claim the boundaries of the old Palestine, but they claim to spread across the Jordan into the rich countries lying to the east, and, indeed, there seems to be very small limit to the aspirations they now form.

It was, therefore, no surprise that the ‘Zionist programme, and the energy with which it is being carried out, have […] had the consequence of arousing the keen suspicions of the Arabs […] who inhabit the country’. As to the borders of Palestine, Curzon gladly availed himself of the opportunity to point out that in the Sykes–Picot agreement ‘the most ridiculous and unfortunate boundaries seem to have been drawn for that area.' It was imperative that the British recovered ‘for Palestine, be it Hebrew or Arab, or both, the boundaries up to the Litani on the coast, and across to Banias, the old Dan, or Huleh in the interior.' With regard to the eastern boundary proposed by the Zionists, which included ‘trans-Jordan territories where there is good cultivation and great possibilities in the future’, Curzon remarked that these had not been part of Palestine ‘for many centuries, if [they] ever did’, while with respect to the Zionist claims on the lands south of Beersheba, he noticed that there were ‘those who say:

“Do not complicate the Palestine question by bringing in the Bedouins of the desert, whose face looks really to- wards Sinai, and who ought not to be associated with Palestine at all”.

Curzon subsequently explained that an international or French administration of the country was out of the question. The choice was between the USA and Great Britain. Curzon plumped for Britain in view of Palestine’s close economic ties with Egypt, its strategic importance for the defense of the Suez Canal, and because ‘from all the evidence we have so far, the Arabs and Zionists in Palestine want us. The evidence on that point seems to be conclusive.’ Cecil agreed that the French were ‘entirely out of the question […] also because the Italians would really burst if you suggested it – and the Greeks too’, but he was not convinced that everything pointed to a British mandate for Palestine. He did not wish ‘to rule out the Americans’, and as far as Palestine’s strategic importance was concerned, he was ‘not much impressed by the argument that in order to defend Egypt we had to go to Palestine, because in order to defend Palestine we should have to go to Aleppo or some such place. You always have to go forward; at least, I gather so.’⁹

On 16 December, the Eastern Committee adopted a resolution on Palestine in which an international administration, as well as a French or Italian mandate, was rejected. Great Britain should not object ‘to the selection of the United States of America, yet if the offer were made to Great Britain, we ought not to decline.' The choice between the two powers ‘should be, as far as possible, in accordance with the expressed desires (a) of the Arab population, (b) of the Zionist community in Palestine’. The British negotiators at the peace conference were finally exhorted to make every effort ‘to secure an equitable re-adjustment of the boundaries of Palestine, both on the north and east and south’.¹⁰ The meeting between Faysal and Weizmann took place on 11 December 1918. It appeared that the basis for a mutual understanding was still there. Both wanted to keep the French out of Syria and Palestine, and in return for Zionist support of Faisal’s ambitions in Syria, the latter was prepared to assist Zionist ambitions in Palestine. According to Weizmann’s report of the meeting, Faisal had been ‘quite sure that he and his followers would be able to explain to the Arabs that the advent of the Jews into Palestine was for the good of the country, and that the legitimate interests of the Arabs would in no way be interfered with’. When Weizmann had observed that ‘the country could be so improved that it would have room for four or five million Jews, without encroaching on the ownership rights of Arab peasantry,' the Emir had agreed. He ‘did not think for a moment that there was any scarcity of land in Palestine. The population would always have enough, especially if the country were developed.’¹¹

Small wonder, then, that on 17 December Weizmann wired to David Eder, the acting chairman of the Zionist Commission, that his interview with Faisal had been ‘most successful’. Weizmann also informed Eder that the Zionists had formulated new proposals for the effectuation of the Balfour Declaration. The most important were that ‘the whole administration of Palestine shall be so formed as to make of Palestine a Jewish Commonwealth under British trusteeship’, and that ‘Jews shall so participate in the administration as to assure this object’. Clayton was greatly worried when he set eyes on this telegram and wired the Foreign Office on 31 December 1918 that ‘in view of the fact that quite 90% of the inhabitants of Palestine are non-Jewish, it would be highly injudicious to impose, except gradually, an alien and unpopular element which up to now has had no administrative experience’. Clayton’s telegram was something of a surprise to the Foreign Office, as it had not received a copy of Weizmann’s telegram to Eder. It was only on 9 January 1919 that, after ‘considerable difficulty’, it finally managed to get one. Both telegrams were laid before Curzon on his first working day as acting secretary of state of foreign affairs. He was ‘absolutely staggered’,¹² especially when read in conjunction with Clayton’s earlier telegram of 5 December, in which he had reported that ‘non-Jews in Palestine number approximately 573,000 as against 66,000 Jews’.¹³ Curzon ‘profoundly [pitied] the future Trustee of the “Jewish Commonwealth” which at the present rate will shortly become an Empire with a He- brew Emperor at Jerusalem’. He had, however, to admit that his ‘views on this subject are unpopular’. He gave instructions that when sending the telegrams to the peace delegation at Paris it should be ‘stated that I agree with General Clayton and that I view the proposals of the Zionist Commission which so far as I know have no sanction in any undertakings yet given by us, with no small alarm’.¹⁴

A few days later, Curzon had an interview with General Money. In a letter to Balfour he informed the latter that both Money and Allenby stressed that ‘we should go slow about the Zionist aspirations and the Zionist State. Otherwise we might jeopardise all that we have won. A Jewish Government in any form would mean an Arab rising, and the nine-tenths of the population who are not Jews would make short shrift with the Hebrews.’ He added that he shared the generals’ view, and that he had ‘for long felt that the pretensions of Weizmann and Company are extravagant and ought to be checked’.¹⁵ Balfour clearly had fewer qualms. He wrote back to Curzon that as far as he knew ‘Weizmann has never put forward a claim for the Jewish Government of Palestine. Such a claim is in my opinion certainly inadmissible and personally I do not think we should go further than the original declaration which I made to Lord Rothschild.’¹⁶

On 9 January, Clayton, who had been recalled to London for consultations, telegraphed to Allenby that the Zionists had ‘come to definite arrangement with Feisal with whom they are in close cooperation’.¹⁷ Faisal and Weizmann had managed to reach an agreement on 3 January. Its main points were as follows:

first, the boundary between Palestine and the Arab state should be determined by a commission after the end of the peace conference; second, the ‘constitution and administration of Palestine’ should ‘afford the fullest guarantees for carrying into effect’ the Balfour Declaration; and third:  All necessary measures shall be taken to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land through closer settlement and intensive cultivation of the soil. In taking such measures the Arab peasant and tenant farmers shall be protected in their rights, and shall be assisted in forwarding their economic development.

Faisal, however, added the proviso that ‘if the Arabs are established as I have asked in my manifesto of January 4th [actually dated 1 January 1919 ; R.H.L.] […] I will carry out what is written in this agreement. If changes are made, I cannot be answerable for failing to carry out this agreement.’¹⁸   Arnold Toynbee minuted that Lawrence had told him that ‘in the first draft of the present document, Dr Weizmann used the phrases “Jewish State”, “Jewish government”, and that the Emir Feisal altered these to “Palestine”, “Palestinian government”.’ Ormsby Gore believed it was ‘a very important document and should be compared very carefully with the new demands of the Zionist Organisation contained in their memorandum for the peace conference’,¹⁹ which Nahum Sokolow communicated to Sir Louis Mallet on 20 January.²⁰

Two days later, Ormsby Gore completed a note on the latest Zionist proposals. These went:

Very much further than any demands hitherto put forward by responsible Zionists. The phrase ‘Jewish Commonwealth’ has been introduced as the result of a resolution passed by the American Jewish Congress of December 16th, 1918. What exactly is meant by the world ‘Commonwealth’ is not defined, but it is clear that it involves steps towards the creation of what is practically and virtually if not nominally a Jewish government in Palestine.

He further stated that ‘the real character of these new proposals can be most readily appreciated by attention to the section dealing with the “Administration” of the future Palestine’. According to the Zionists, the governor of Jerusalem ‘must be a man of the Jewish religion’, and could only be appointed by the mandatory power after consulting ‘the Jewish Council for Palestine, an extra Palestinian body representative of Jews in all countries’. Ormsby Gore could ‘imagine few things which would create greater distrust of Zionist aims among both Christian and Moslem inhabitants of Palestine than the insistence upon a racial and religious test’ for the governor of Jerusalem. He considered the ‘proposals regarding the Executive Council and the Legislative Council […] even more extreme’. The Zionists proposed that ‘on both councils there should be an assured Jewish majority. Thus racial and religious tests are to be introduced and gross over-representation of the Jews in proportion to the rest of the population is to be insisted upon.’ There were ‘many other smaller points’ to which Ormsby Gore took exception, and in conclusion he observed that:

 In general it would seem that Dr Weizmann who has hitherto been moderate and reasonable in his proposals has been pushed along by the Jewish Jingoes of America and neutral countries who having been given an inch want an ell. To my mind such extravagant demands will injure and not assist the cause of Zionism both in Palestine and elsewhere and if these demands are persisted in I presume H.M.G. will make it clear that they cannot be answerable if they lead to disaster and reaction.

Sir Louis Mallet entirely agreed and suggested that Orms- by Gore should be ‘authorised to communicate with Dr Weizmann and Mr Sokolov with a view to modifying this document.' Mallet also mentioned the matter to Balfour, ‘who agreed that we should point out the unwisdom of putting forward such proposals’, and discussed it with Sir Eric Drummond, who ‘deprecated our making ourselves, in any way, responsible for this case […] The less they mention Great Britain the better, except to say that they desire our tutelage.’²¹ All these sentiments were reflected in the letter Ormsby Gore sent to Sokolow on 24 January. He had spoken to Mallet and Drummond and both ‘wished it to be made quite clear to you that there must be no suggestion that your proposals have been approved by the British government. There is no objection to you asking for Great Britain as Mandatory provided you do this entirely on your own.’ He also stated that Mallet had ‘made it quite clear that in his opinion the British government would not accept the duties of a Mandatory if the constitution proposed in the printed Memorandum were insisted upon by you and the Conference’, and that Sir Louis and he ‘certainly both think this Memorandum is far too extreme as well as being much too long and too detailed’. It would be better if the Zionists submitted ‘something briefer and less likely to offend the susceptibilities of the majority of the present inhabitants of Palestine’.²²

The next day, Kidston reported that Weizmann had come ‘to see me a couple of days ago and said that he was seriously distressed about the position in Palestine. The Jews were not receiving that consideration which they had expected in a country which was to be their national home.’ In reply, Kidston had pointed out that British ‘officers had many conflicting interests to reconcile and the Jews were making their task difficult by their importunity. They seemed to think that their national home must be handed over to them ready-made at a moment’s notice.’ Graham thought ‘Mr Kidston’s language perfectly correct’, and observed that Weizmann had never ‘publicly asked for more than a Jewish “national home” in Palestine – with the idea of a Jewish commonwealth always looming in the background’. This induced Curzon to have a second look at Weizmann’s telegram to Eder of 17 December, in which the former had stated that Palestine should become ‘a Jewish Commonwealth under British Trusteeship’. Curzon wondered:

Now what is a Commonwealth? I turn to my dictionaries and find it thus defined:– ‘A State’, ‘A body politic,’ ‘An independent Community’. ‘A Republic’. Also read the rest of the telegram. What then is the good of shutting our eyes to the fact that this is what the Zionists are after, and that the British Trustee- ship is a mere screen behind which to work for this end?²³

Curzon decided to devote a further letter to Balfour to this question. He entertained ‘no doubt that [Weizmann] is out for a Jewish government, if not at the moment, then in the near future’. He pointed out that Weizmann, in his account of his meeting with Balfour on 4 December, had:

Deliberately inserted the underlined words: ‘all necessary arrangements for the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish National Home or Commonwealth.’ You meant the first, but he interpreted it as meaning the second. Again, on December 17, he telegraphed to Eder of the Zionist Commission at Jaffa: ‘The best proposal stipulates that the whole administration of Palestine shall be formed as to make Palestine a Jewish Commonwealth.’

Curzon therefore felt ‘tolerably sure’ that Weizmann contemplated ‘a Jewish state, a Jewish nation, a subordinate population of Arabs ruled by Jews, the Jews in possession of the best of the land and directing the Administration’, and that he was ‘trying to effect this behind the screen and under the shelter of British trusteeship’. Curzon’s complaint made no impression whatsoever in Paris. Balfour merely wanted to know when did he talk ‘about a Jewish Commonwealth?’, while Drummond minuted that ‘this hardly requires an answer’.²⁴

Ormsby Gore’s letter to Sokolow proved to be far more effective. On 30 January, Mallet minuted that Samuel had called on him ‘to say that he had revised the Zionist case for the Conference and that the demand for a Jewish Governor, a majority on the Council, had been eliminated and the tone of the document greatly modified.' Samuel had also explained that a ‘reference to the development of the country later on into a Jewish Commonwealth’ had nevertheless been left in, ‘in deference to the views of American Zionists who wanted something more to look forward to than a National Home’.²⁵

The ‘Statement of the Zionist Organisation Regarding Palestine’ was finally submitted to the peace conference on 3 February 1919. The Allied and Associated Powers were asked to ‘recognise the historic title of the Jew- ish people to Palestine and the right of the Jews to reconstitute in Palestine their National Home’, to vest the country’s sovereignty in the League of Nations, and to appoint Great Britain as the mandatory power. The man- date should be: Subject also to the following special conditions:–  (I)  Palestine shall be placed under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment there of the Jewish National Home and ultimately render possible the creation of an autonomous Commonwealth, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country. (II)  To this end the Mandatory Power shall inter alia; (a) Promote Jewish immigration and close settlement on the land, the established rights of the present non Jewish population being equitably safeguarded. (b) Accept the cooperation in such measures of a Council representative of the Jews of Palestine and of the world that may be established for the development of the Jewish National Home in Palestine.

The boundaries the Zionist Organisation claimed for Palestine were the same as those indicated in the Advisory Committee’s proposals communicated to the Foreign Office in the middle of November.

Whereas Faisal’s statement had enthusiastically been received by members of the British delegation at the peace conference, the one by the Zionist Organisation mainly drew critical comments, in particular on the proposed boundaries and Council. Ormsby Gore minuted that the ‘northern boundary is a little too far north, the Eastern boundary proposed here […] too far East and I do not believe that Akaba can be usefully developed as a part of Palestine’. He thought that a Jewish council might be helpful ‘to prevent speculation and to facilitate the provisions of funds and land for the development of the Jewish national home,' but it ‘should have no political functions and the fewer administrative functions it has the better’. Mallet wished to go even further. This ‘Jewish Council should […] be merely a consultative body and have no powers of administration in Palestine. If it has, little by little it will encroach and be- come very embarrassing for the Governor. It should clearly not be in the Mandate conferred by the Peace Conference.’ He also concurred that ‘Akaba should certainly not be included in Palestine. We have agreed upon a boundary with the American delegation and I am refer- ring it to the Egyptian experts.’²⁶


The British Military Administration

Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen lunched with Balfour on 7 February 1919. Afterwards he noted in his diary that he had bluntly asked the foreign secretary whether the Declaration was ‘a reward or bribe to the Jews for past services given in the hope of full support during the war?’ Balfour had immediately replied, ‘certainly not; both the Prime Minister and myself have been influenced by a desire to give the Jews their rightful place in the world; a great nation without a home is not right’. Meinertzhagen had then asked whether, ‘at the back of your mind do you regard this declaration a charter for ultimate Jewish sovereignty in Palestine or are you trying to graft a Jewish population on to an Arab Palestine?’ This time Balfour had not answered right away, and when he did, he had chosen ‘his words carefully “My personal hope is that the Jews will make good in Palestine and eventually found a Jewish State. It is up to them now; we have given them their great opportunity”.’²⁷

The ambiguity inherent in the Balfour Declaration was also something that troubled Cardinal Bourne, the archbishop of Westminster, who was visiting Palestine at the time. On 25 January he wrote to Lord Edmund Talbot, the conservative chief whip, that the declaration ‘was very vague and is interpreted in many ways’. He related that ‘the Zionists here claim that the Jews are to have the domination of the Holy Land under a British Protectorate; in other words they are going to force their rule on an unwilling people of whom they form only 10%’, and noted that ‘the officials are clearly at a loss how to act for fear of giving offence and being disavowed at home if they withstand Zionist pretensions’. The cardinal therefore begged Talbot ‘to urge on the Prime Minister and Mr Balfour the immediate need of a clear and definite declaration on the subject of Zionism’. Talbot had passed on Bourne’s letter to the Prime Minister, who on 15 February wrote to Kerr that ‘if the Zionists claim that the Jews are to have domination of the Holy Land under a British Protectorate, then they are certainly putting their claims too high’. He also informed Kerr that he had ‘heard from other sources that the Arabs are very disturbed about the Zionists’ claims’. He warned that ‘we certainly must not have a combination of Catholics and Mohammedans against us. It would be a bad start to our government of Palestine.’²⁸

In the discussion on how the Balfour Declaration should be interpreted – did it mean that there would be a national home for the Jews in an Arab-dominated Palestine, or that the home constituted the basis on which a Jewish-dominated Palestine would be erected, but with the civil and religious rights of the Arab minority secure? – Kerr and Balfour adhered to the second interpretation. According to Kerr, ‘we have promised that Palestine should be treated as the national home of the Jews and that if the Jews migrate there in sufficient numbers they will eventually become the predominant power in the country’. Lloyd George should not be fooled by appeals to self-determination, because these meant that ‘as the Jews are now only one tenth of the population they will never get a look in at all’. If the Declaration meant ‘anything at all it means that the Jews of the rest of the world through some kind of Zionist Council shall not only have the right to foster immigration and undertake the public work necessary to enable the Jews to immigrate but that they should have some recognised position in the governmental machinery’, if not, then ‘local influences will be able to stop Jewish immigration and the development of Palestine as a Jewish home’.²⁹ Balfour was even more explicit:

The weak point of our position of course is that in the case of Palestine we deliberately and rightly de- cline to accept the principle of self-determination. If the present inhabitants were consulted they would unquestionably give an anti-Jewish verdict. Our justification for our policy is that we regard Palestine as being absolutely exceptional; that we consider the question of the Jews outside Palestine as one of world importance, and that we conceive the Jews to have an historic claim to a home in their ancient land; provided that home can be given them without either dispossessing, or oppressing the present inhabitants.³⁰

The Zionists presented their case to the peace conference on 27 February 1919. Sokolow was the first to address the Council of Ten. He said that ‘the solemn hour awaited during eighteen centuries by the Jewish people had, at length, arrived. The Delegates had come to claim their historic rights to Palestine, the land of Israel.’ It was true that there existed ‘happy groups of Jews’ in the countries of Western Europe and in America, ‘but these were, comparatively speaking, only small groups. The great majority of the Jewish people did not live in those countries and the problem of the masses remained to be solved.’ Weizmann spoke next. Where Sokolow had made an emotional appeal to the members of the Council of Ten, Weizmann appealed to their self-interest. The disaster that had befallen the six to seven million Jews in Russia implied that ‘Jewish emigration […] would increase enormously, whilst at the same time the power of absorption in the countries of Western Europe and of America would considerably decrease’. The result would be that ‘the Jews would find themselves knocking about the world, seeking a refuge and unable to find one. The problem, therefore, was a very serious one, and no statesman could contemplate it without feeling impelled to find an equitable solution.’ According to Weizmann, ‘the solution proposed by the Zionist organisation was the only one which would in the long run bring peace, and at the same time transform Jewish energy into a constructive force, instead of being dissipated into destructive tendencies or bitterness’. It was also a realistic proposal, be- cause in Palestine ‘there was room for an increase of at least 4,000,000 to 5,000,000 people, without encroaching on the legitimate interests of the people already there. The Zionist wished to settle Jews in the empty spaces of Palestine.’

American Secretary of State Robert Lansing asked Weizmann ‘to clear up some confusion which existed in his mind as to the correct meaning of the words “Jewish National Home.” Did that mean an autonomous Jewish government?’

Weizmann directly denied this, but when he continued it became clear that this denial had to be qualified. In the short run the answer was ‘no’, but in the long run it was ‘yes’. What the Zionists wanted for the moment was ‘an administration, not necessarily Jewish, which would render it possible […] [to] make Palestine as Jewish as America is American or England English’. Weizmann ended by stating that ‘he spoke for 96 per cent of the Jews of the world, who shared the views which he had endeavoured to express that afternoon’.³¹ The next day, Clayton warned Curzon that in Palestine the ‘fear of Zionism among all classes of Christians and Moslems is now widespread, and has been greatly intensified by publications in Zionist journals and utterances of leading Zionists of a far reaching programme greatly in advance of that foreshadowed by Doctor Weizmann’. Zionists conveniently attributed ‘local anti-Zionist feeling to influence of “Effendis” who are spoken of as corrupt and tyrannical’, but the truth was that ‘fear and dislike of Zionism has become general throughout all classes’. Clayton also observed that the increase in Zionist ambitions had resulted in a ‘lack of confidence in Great Britain’, committed as Britain was to France and the Zionists. In the eyes of the majority ‘America is the only power left’.³² He returned to this theme in a dispatch he sent two days later. There was ‘little doubt that in the early days of the occupation British protection or tutelage would have been welcomed universally, and that fear and dislike of Zionism has induced the present attitude in the population of Palestine’.³³

At the meeting of the Council of Four on 20 March, it was Clemenceau who proposed that the inter-allied commission should not limit its inquiries to Syria, but also visit Palestine, Mesopotamia and Armenia. Lloyd George declared that he ‘had no objection to an inquiry into Palestine and Mesopotamia, which were the regions in which the British Empire were principally concerned’,³⁴ but Balfour was clearly worried. On 23 March, he wrote a note in which he explained that he had spoken to Wilson and Lloyd George on the inadvisability of including Palestine ‘in the sphere of operations to be covered by the Com- missioners’. Both, however, had not thought ‘the arguments [he] used were sufficiently strong to justify any alteration in the draft already sanctioned’. He therefore wished ‘to put on record my objections to the inclusion of Palestine within the area of investigation’. The problem was that the commissioners were ‘directed to frame their advice upon the wishes of the existing inhabitants of the countries they are going to visit’. If they carried out these instructions, Balfour could ‘hardly doubt that their report will contain a statement to the effect that the present inhabitants of Palestine, who in a large majority are Arab, do not desire to see the administration of the country so conducted as to encourage the relative increase of the Jewish population and influence’. This would have the result that ‘the task of countries which, like England and America, are anxious to promote Zionism will be greatly embarrassed’, and ‘the difficulties of carrying out a Zionist policy […] much increased’.

At the Foreign Office, Clark Kerr considered Balfour’s fears ‘fully justified’. It would ‘be interesting to see when Zionism will awake to the danger of this threat against its aspirations’.³⁵ The Zionists as a matter of fact had already done so. On 26 March, House noted in his diary that the American Zionist Felix Frankfurter had been ‘an excited afternoon caller. The Jews have it that the Inter-allied Commission which is to be sent to Syria is about to cheat Jewry of Palestine.’³⁶ Hogarth wrote to Clayton four days later that he had dined with Frankfurter and Weizmann, and ‘found both singing very low’.³⁷ To Curzon, however, the possible outcome that the commission might find against a British Mandate for Palestine provided the one glimmer of hope in connection with the whole project. He wrote to Balfour on 25 March that he would ‘rejoice at nothing more than that the Commission should advise that a mandate be conferred upon anyone else rather than Great Britain’.³⁸

On 31 March, Balfour wrote to Samuel that he still had ‘great hopes that Palestine will be eliminated from the scope of any Commission’, and added, for Samuel’s ‘personal and confidential information’, that the dispatch of the inter-allied commission was ‘still an open question and by no means definitely determined’. However, Balfour’s main reason for writing his letter was that ‘the position in Palestine is giving me considerable anxiety.' He had received reports ‘from unbiased sources that the Zionists there are behaving in a way which is alienating the sympathies of all the other elements of the population. The repercussion is felt here and the effect is a distinct set back to Zionism.’ He therefore requested Samuel to warn ‘the Zionist leaders both here and in Palestine that they would do well to avoid any appearance of unauthorised interference in the administration of the country’.³⁹ Balfour sent a letter in the same vein to Weizmann three days later.⁴⁰

Samuel replied on 7 April. He was very glad to know that there still was ‘a prospect that the question of Palestine may be settled without the long delay involved by a local inquiry by Commission’. Regarding Balfour’s worries, he had ‘already spoken to one or two of the Zionist leaders here in the sense of the latter part of your letter and am sending a message to Dr Weizmann also’, but his sources had told him that there was ‘another side to the case’. The Jews in Palestine felt ‘a sense of grievance that the military administrators there usually proceed as though the Declaration of November 1917 had never been made’. They were ‘unsympathetic military men, from the Soudan and elsewhere, who have never heard of Zion- ism, who regard all the inhabitants as “natives”, and who give preference to the Arabs to the detriment of the Jews […] because they have been accustomed to deal with similar people and understand them better’. Weizmann in his reply did not mince words. They were ‘dealing […] with purposeful and organised misunderstanding. Indisputably a vigorous agitation is on foot.’ He, too, wished to direct Balfour’s ‘attention to the quality of British officials who are in the administration in Palestine’, who ‘however well intentioned […] bring to Palestine an out- look hardened by experience in Egypt or the Sudan. All Zionists […] know your deep friendliness and that of General Allenby to our cause […] unfortunately, as we proceed down the line of military and civil officials the spirit is lost in transmission.’⁴¹ Weizmann therefore thought that ‘it would be of very great value if an officer from here who knows the East and is acquainted with the questions involved were to go out’. He added that ‘the C.I.G.S. con- curs in this opinion’.⁴² Clayton, however, certainly did not. According to him there was no necessity ‘to send an Officer out from England’.⁴³

Clayton telegraphed a report by Money to the Foreign Office on 2 May 1919. Like Clayton, the latter claimed that ‘in the present state of political feeling there is no doubt that if Zionist’s programme is a necessary adjunct to a mandatory the people of Palestine will select in preference the United States or France as the mandatory power’. The idea that ‘Great Britain is the main upholder of the Zionist programme will preclude any local request for a British mandate’. Money therefore submitted that ‘if a clear and unbiased expression of wishes is required and if a mandate for Great Britain is desired by His Majesty’s Government it will be necessary to make an authoritative announcement that the Zionist programme will not be enforced in opposition to the wishes of majority.' Clayton added that he concurred in Money’s appreciation of the situation. According to him, ‘fear and distrust of Zionist aims grow daily and no amount of persuasion or propaganda will dispel it […] A British mandate for Palestine on the line of the Zionist programme will mean the indefinite retention in the country of a military force considerably greater than that now in Palestine.’

Kidston believed that Clayton’s views were ‘particularly sound’, but rather doubted whether these were ‘shared by the War Office here, for Colonel Gribbon rang me up yesterday on the telephone with the express object of saying that he thought that too much attention should not be paid to this opinion on the situation’. When Kidston had subsequently aired Curzon’s point of view that ‘it might be a blessing if the mandate were to go elsewhere’, Gribbon had been ‘profoundly shocked and maintained that Palestine was essential to us strategically for the defence of Egypt’.⁴⁴ In Paris, General Thwaites informed Hardinge that Allenby agreed with Money’s assessment that ‘if Great Britain desires the people to vote for a British mandate it will be necessary to make an authoritative announcement that the Zionist programme will not be enforced in opposition to the wishes of the majority’. However, in sharp contrast to the way in which the military authorities in London and Paris handled the Syrian dossier, Thwaites proposed not to defer to the military authorities on the spot. If the British government persisted in their policy of backing ‘a moderate Zionist policy’, it would moreover ‘be worthwhile to bring new blood into General Allenby’s political administration by sending out an officer, such as Colonel Meinertzhagen, who, with full knowledge of the position in Europe could help General Allenby to overcome the difficulties’ he was confronted with. Forbes Adam minuted that Weizmann had told him that a proclamation as advocated by Money, Clayton and Allenby would ‘produce a violent disturbance in Eastern Europe the effects of which might be much more disastrous and far reaching than the opposition of the local population (Christian and Moslem) of Palestine to the decisions of the Conference’. Mallet merely observed ‘we cannot possibly go back’.⁴⁵

During a meeting of the Samuel Committee on 10 May, Weizmann admitted that lately ‘a great deal’ had been heard ‘about the unrest amongst Arabs and their opposition to Zionism’, but mainly blamed this on a lack of support of the Zionist movement ‘by the Administration on the spot’, in particular ‘the lower officials who in some cases have done a great deal of irreparable damage’. The military authorities had apparently lost confidence in ‘the possibility or advisability of putting into effect the Balfour Declaration’, but nothing could be ‘more unjust and short-sighted than that. Jewry is not going to give up its claim to Palestine and Great Britain or America is not going back on a solemnly pledged word.’⁴⁶ This was precisely the line Balfour took in a letter to Curzon on the declaration proposed by Money. There could ‘of course be no question of making any such announcement as that suggested […] and in this connection it might be well’ to remind Clayton that ‘the French, United States and Italian governments have approved the policy set forth in my letter to Lord Rothschild of November 2nd, 1917’. Balfour also informed Curzon that Thwaites had suggested that ‘it might be advisable at this stage to send out to Palestine a further advisor on Zionist matters to assist General Clayton’, and that Thwaites had ‘pro- posed, in this connection, Colonel Meinertzhagen, D.S.O. as the most suitable person’.⁴⁷ The Foreign Office telegraphed Balfour’s observations to Clayton without further comment on 27 May 1919.⁴⁸ Clayton replied on 9 June: ‘your remarks noted. With regard to Colonel Meinertzhagen if you send him out he will be useful to me.’⁴⁹ From a later telegram it appeared that he was not a bit impressed by Balfour’s reminder that Britain’s allies also supported the Zionist cause. He wired on 19 June that ‘unity of opinion among the Allied governments on the subject of Palestine’, was ‘not a factor which tends to alleviate the dislike of non-Jewish Palestinians to the Zionist Policy. Indeed, it rather leads to still further anxiety on their part to express clearly to the world their own point of view.’⁵⁰

In a minute of 3 June, written in a letter that the secretary of the Zionist Commission had sent to Aaron Aaronsohn and Felix Frankfurter at the beginning of May, Meinertzhagen left little doubt as to the side he was on in the struggle between Zionists, Arabs, and the British military authorities. The secretary had violently complained about the Palestinian Arabs, who were ‘the most cowardly and weak-kneed Moslems’, the native Christians, who had joined the anti-Jewish movement ‘stimulated by an endless flow of French gold’, and the military administration, who it seemed had ‘received the mot d’ordre to put the Jew at a disadvantage. With each Governor or sub-Governor there is an Arab or Christian advisor, who influences the British official against the Jews.’ The regrettable truth was that Great Britain had ‘lost all power and prestige here […] Only fair and strong action can save Great Britain’s position with the Moslems.’ Meinertzhagen commented that he knew ‘the writer of this letter. He is a moderate, level-headed, and sensible Zionist’. The letter further only confirmed ‘which we already know namely that our administration in Palestine is in a unhappy state and has been signally unsuccessful in getting the sympathy of the Jew and the confidence of the Arab’.⁵¹

On 31 May, Sir William Tyrrell communicated a part of Clayton’s telegram of 2 May to Samuel, and explained that Balfour had suggested that Samuel ‘should be consulted […] with a view to ascertaining whether you have any proposals to offer as to how the present hostility to Zionism in Palestine can best be allayed by the administrative authorities on the spot’.⁵² In his reply, Samuel presented a complete catalogue of the measures that according to the Zionists should be taken to put an end to the unrest in Palestine. The first was that ‘H.M. Government should send definite instructions to the local administration to the effect that their policy contemplates the concession to Great Britain of the Mandate for Palestine’, and that ‘the terms of the Mandate will certainly embody the substance of the declaration of November 2nd 1917’. The second was that the Arabs should be assured that ‘in no circumstances will [they] be despoiled of their land or required to leave the country’, and that there would ‘be no question of the majority being subjected to the minority’. At the same time they should be reminded that a choice in favore of America or France as the mandatory power for Palestine would bring no solace, since ‘the American and French governments are also pledged to favour the establishment in Palestine of the Jewish National Home’. The third measure was that the local authorities should ‘be instructed to bring these facts to the attention of the Arab leaders at any convenient opportunity, and to impress upon them that the matter is a chose jugée [the matter is final and not open to appeal; R.H.L.] and that continued agitation could only be to the detriment of the country and would certainly be without result’. Samuel finally suggested that:

An officer, whether civil or military, who has been in close touch with the British Delegation in Paris or with the Foreign Office in London, who is well acquainted with the policy of H.M. Government in relation to Palestine and is personally in sympathy with it, should be sent to Palestine with the special mission of conveying to the local administration, more fully than can be done by correspondence the views of the government.

Maurice Peterson at the Foreign Office minuted on Samuel’s letter that ‘something like what Mr Samuel proposes will, I fancy, have to be done after we have received the mandate. But until then, and with the American Commission on its way, I doubt if Paris will be ready for so bellicose a statement.’ Kidston related that he had spoken with Samuel Landman of the Zionist Organisation, who had complained that ‘either the attitude of H.M.G. towards Zionism had changed or that the Military Administration in Palestine were not acting in accordance with the policy of the Home Government’. Kidston had firmly taken the side of the military administration, and warned Landman that the Zionists:

Must not forget that Palestine was still enemy occupied territory under military occupation; they, like many were too apt to forget that we were still in a state of war with Turkey; they expected the administration to act as if peace had been signed and the mandate of Palestine already given to Great Britain, we here were called upon to exercise a good deal of patience in these days and I feared that the Zionists must learn to do the same.

Graham believed that ‘Mr Kidston’s reply met the case very well’, and Curzon agreed, ‘the Zionists have only themselves to thank’.⁵³ But where London sided with the military authorities, Paris sided with the Zionists. Forbes Adam hoped that Samuel’s proposals would ‘be followed up’,⁵⁴ and when on 24 June Balfour had a conversation with Louis Brandeis on the eve of the latter’s visit to Palestine, he ‘expressed entire agreement’ with Brandeis’s understanding that ‘the commitment of the Balfour Declaration’ entailed that ‘Palestine should be the Jewish homeland and not merely […] a Jewish homeland in Palestine’. Two days later, in the memorandum for Lloyd George in which Balfour expressed the hope that the outlines of the Turkish settlement should be agreed to by the Prime Minister and President Wilson left Paris, it became clear that he also fully agreed with the two other conditions that according to Brandeis must be fulfilled to enable the successful realization of the Zionist program. The first was that there ‘must be economic elbow room for a Jewish Palestine’, which ‘meant adequate boundaries, not merely a small garden within Palestine’, and the second that ‘the future Jewish Palestine must have control of the land and the natural resources which are at the heart of a sound economic life’.⁵⁵ Balfour observed that Palestine’s northern frontier ‘should give [the country] a full command of the water power which geographically belongs to Palestine and not to Syria; while the Eastern frontier should be so drawn as to give the widest scope to agricultural development on the left bank of the Jordan, consistent with leaving the Hedjaz railway completely in Arab possession’.⁵⁶ On 1 July, Balfour further stated in a dispatch to Curzon that instructions should be sent to Allenby on the lines of the measures Samuel had proposed in his letter. He also again brought up the question of ‘the despatch of a further officer to Palestine’, which ‘might in the first instance be discussed with General Clayton on his forthcoming visit to England on leave’.⁵⁷

At the Foreign Office, a telegram was drafted containing Samuel’s suggestions, but this was held up in order to obtain Clayton’s views upon it. In the meantime, Samuel and Weizmann continued their attacks on the British military authorities in Palestine. Sir Ronald Gra- ham recorded that he had an interview with each on 2 July. Samuel had ‘complained of the attitude of the British Military authorities […] and declared that they took every opportunity of injuring Zionist interests’. He ‘earnestly’ hoped that ‘in the forthcoming changes which were to be made in the administration of Palestine new officers would be appointed who would possess a better understanding of the intentions of His Majesty’s Government’. Weizmann had ‘referred in far more violent terms to the present situation in Palestine. He declared that the British Authorities were showing a marked hostility to the Jews and lost no opportunity of not only injuring their interests but of humiliating them.’ Weizmann therefore ‘earnestly begged that the question should be taken in hand and that a new spirit should animate the direction of affairs in Palestine’. Curzon, however, refused to move: ‘to a large extent the Zionists are reaping the harvest which they themselves sowed’.⁵⁸ After his arrival in London, Clayton had two meetings with the Zionist leadership on 8 and 9 July. From his reports of the meetings to the Foreign Office it appeared that he had not wavered under the barrage of Zionist complaints and had stubbornly defended the line of policy adopted by the military authorities. During the first meeting it had become clear that the criticisms ‘brought up by Mr Samuel and Dr Weizmann in their interviews with Sir R. Graham’ could not be ‘illustrated by specific instances, except in the case of one or two incidents of minor importance’. He had:

Pointed out that the present administration was a temporary and provisional [one] and was not there- fore justified in pushing a Zionist policy at a time when the future status of Palestine had not been decided by the Peace Conference. However confident the Zionists might be that the eventual decision would be in their favour, it would be incorrect for the occupying power to prejudice that decision by acting as though the mandate had already be given to Great Britain.⁵⁹

At the second meeting, Clayton had admitted that ‘individual administrators may have appeared to show lack of will’, and attributed this ‘to the fact that the staff of administrators was collected under great difficulties, and from the material available at the time. Most of the best men were already serving elsewhere.’ He had, however, insisted that the military administration was ‘not placed there in order to carry out any particular policy, but to maintain security in the country. They were in the position of a trustee awaiting a decision regarding the fate of the country,’ and that this implied, ‘in the absence of definite instructions from the Home Government’, that the administration was ‘not justified in doing anything which could be construed as in some way forestalling the mandate’.⁶⁰ It took more than a fortnight after his meetings with the Zionists before the Foreign Office was able to consult Clayton on the draft telegram to his deputy Colonel French containing the instructions based on Samuel’s letter of 5 June. According to this draft:  His Majesty’s Government’s policy contemplates concession to Great Britain of Mandate for Palestine. Terms of Mandate will embody substance of declaration of November 2, 1917. Arabs will not be de- spoiled of their land nor required to leave the country. There is no question of majority being subjected to the rule of minority, nor does Zionist programme contemplate this. American and French governments are equally pledged to support establishment in Palestine of Jewish national home. This should be emphasised to Arab leaders at every opportunity and it should be impressed on them that the matter is a ‘chose jugée’ and continued agitation would be useless and detrimental.  When Clayton set eyes on the draft telegram on 25 July, it had been decided that Meinertzhagen would succeed him as chief political officer for Syria and Palestine. He no longer put up a fight. He merely observed that he agreed that ‘if the question is a “chose jugée”, the sooner General Allenby is given a definite line the better’. However, Curzon was not yet ready to give in. He was afraid that he could not ‘see why a policy should be suggested or dictated to us by Mr Herbert Samuel who is not a member of H.M.G.’ Neither did he ‘see why we should lay down – in anticipation of the decision of the Peace Conference – (a) that we are going to receive the man- date (b) what its terms are to be’. But this was no more than a token resistance, because he added that this might be ‘the policy of H.M.G. and if Mr Balfour so decides I have nothing more to say’. On 4 August, Kidston could accordingly note that Curzon had seen the draft telegram to French and ‘agreed to its despatch as it apparently represents Mr Balfour’s policy’.⁶¹

On 23 July 1919, Weizmann wrote to Balfour on the impending resignations by General Clayton and General Money.⁶² It was ‘essential’ that ‘these two very important offices should be filled by men who are in complete sympathy […] with the policy that His Majesty’s Government has adopted’. Replacing the chief political officer and the chief military administrator was in Weizmann’s eyes not enough. He expected that steps would be taken ‘to re- place officers, some of them filling positions inferior only to those already mentioned, who, according to all the information we have received, have shown themselves not only unsympathetic but even hostile to the Jewish population of the country’. When he transmitted the letter to the Foreign Office, Balfour confined himself to the observation, on the suggestion of Forbes Adam, that he trusted that Curzon and the War Office would ‘endeavour to meet Dr Weizmann’s wishes in the matter of new appointments’.⁶³

Although nobody in Paris apparently took exception to Weizmann’s interfering in the appointment of British officials, Clark Kerr in London certainly did. He could not ‘help feeling that this is allowing the Jews to have things too much their own way’, but supposed ‘we must bow to the ruling of Paris’. He also related that Landman had told him that ‘a General Watson [Major-General Harry D. Watson; R.H.L.] was to succeed General Money’. Curzon initially merely minuted that he wished ‘the letter had been addressed to me’,⁶⁴ but subsequently decided to address one more letter to Balfour to give vent to his indignation. He informed the latter ‘how much startled’ he was:

At a letter from Dr Weizmann to you dated July 23 in which that astute but aspiring person claims to ad- dress me as to the principal politico-military appointments to be made in Palestine and to criticise sharply the conduct of any such officers who do not fall on the neck of the Zionists (a most unattractive resting place) and […] the ‘type of man’ whom we might or might not to send.

It seemed that Weizmann would ‘be a scourge on the back of the unlucky mandatory, and I often wish you would drop a few globules of cold water on his heated and extravagant pretensions!’⁶⁵

When Curzon’s latest complaint arrived in Paris, Balfour was putting the finishing touches to his long memorandum on the Syrian question. From his observations on Palestine it appeared that Curzon’s appeals and Clayton’s warnings had failed to make any impression. Balfour took the same position he had taken in his letter to Lloyd George in the middle of February in reaction to Cardinal Bourne’s letter, and in his note of the end of March, prompted by the Council of Four’s decision to send an inter-allied commission of inquiry to the Middle East. Balfour observed that:

In Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country, though the American Commission has been going through the form of asking what they are. The four Great Powers are committed to Zionism. And Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.

In my opinion that is right. What I have never been able to understand is how it can be harmonised with the declaration, the Covenant, or the instructions to the Commission of Enquiry. I do not think that Zionism will hurt the Arabs; but they will never say they want it […] Whatever deference should be paid to the views of those who live there, the Powers in their selection of a mandatory do not propose, as I understand the matter, to consult them.

With respect to Palestine’s borders, Balfour repeated what he had stated in his memorandum to Lloyd George of 26 June. It was ‘eminently desirable’ that Palestine ‘should obtain the command of the water-power which naturally belongs to it, whether by extending its borders to the north, or by treaty with the mandatory of Syria’, and ‘should extend into the lands lying east of the Jordan. It should not, however, be allowed to include the Hedjaz railway.’⁶⁶

When General Watson filed his first report as military administrator on 16 August, he explained that ‘on taking over the Administration of O.E.T.A. South I had an open mind with regard to the Zionist movement and was fully in sympathy with the aim of the Jews for a National Home in Palestine – and with that aim I am still in sympathy’, but that there was no escaping the fact that ‘the feeling of the great mass of the population is very antagonistic to the scheme’. Opposition until now had been more inspired by nationalist than religious sentiments, but he greatly feared that it might ‘take a religious turn’ and lead to ‘a Holy War’. He emphasised, like Clayton and Money had done before him, that the ‘antagonism to Zionism of the majority of the population is deep rooted – it is fast leading to hatred of the British – and will result, if the Zionist programme is forced upon them, in an outbreak of a very serious character necessitating the employment of a much larger number of troops that at present located in the country’. He therefore urged ‘most strongly’, ‘for the sake of Zionism, for the sake of the National Home for the Jews […] that the work of the establishment of the Jews in Palestine be done very very slowly and carefully. Peaceful penetration over a long period of years will bring about the desired result.’⁶⁷


The Draft Declaration on Zionism and the Borders of Palestine

In his long letter to Balfour of 20 August 1919, Curzon also devoted a few lines to Palestine. The War Cabinet was divided on the question. Curzon was very much in favor of withdrawing from the country ‘while yet we can’. Others had, however, taken Balfour’s position that, ‘irksome as will be the burden’, Britain could not ‘now refuse [the mandate] without incensing the Zionist world’. Lloyd George for his part had clung to ‘Palestine for its sentimental and traditional value, and [talked] about Jerusalem with almost the same enthusiasm as about his native hills’.⁶⁸

During the first of his series of meetings with Field- Marshal Allenby at Hennequeville, Lloyd George stated that it ‘was essential to acquire the whole of Palestine without any truncation whatever’.⁶⁹ At their second meeting the next day, the Prime Minister wanted to know ‘whether it was proposed to include Mount Hermon within the boundaries of Palestine’, as the Zionists claimed, but to him this seemed ‘to be rather excessive’. Allenby concurred and assured Lloyd George that the line he ‘would like to draw for Palestine […] would exclude Mount Hermon’. Because the French insisted on the border agreed in the Sykes–Picot agreement, which meant that Lake Tiberias would not form part of Palestine, Han- key was instructed to get from London a copy of ‘Adam Smith’s Atlas (containing the boundaries of Palestine at different periods)’ (a reference to George Adam Smith, Atlas of the Historical Geography of the Holy Land, which had been published in 1915), because Lloyd George ‘wanted a map showing what actually constituted Pales- tine. He was convinced that this would include Lake Tiberias.’ Bonar Law subsequently suggested that ‘President Wilson should be asked to arbitrate as to the boundaries of Palestine’. He also wished to know ‘what was the value of Palestine?’ Allenby replied that ‘it had no economic value whatsoever. Its retention by the British would keep our minds active for the next generation or two. He anticipated great trouble from the Zionists.’ Lloyd George could not let this pass. He ‘pointed out that the mandate over Palestine would give us great prestige’, but in Allenby’s view it was the other way around, ‘we could [not] now give up Palestine without great loss of prestige’. Lloyd George cut off this dispute by pro- claiming that ‘anyhow it was impossible for us to give up Palestine’, and summed up the British position as ‘we could neither give up Palestine nor take Syria’, to which Allenby agreed.⁷⁰

At their next meeting on 11 September, the Prime Minister started with accepting Bonar Law’s plan of ‘leaving the arbitration of the northern boundary of Palestine to someone selected by President Wilson’. Hankey subsequently ‘produced Adam Smith’s Atlas […] and some time was spent in examining [it]’. Lloyd George concluded that ‘the maps of different epochs gave Haifa to Palestine, but not Acre’, but Gribbon pointed out that this time the Sykes–Picot line worked in Britain’s favour, as it ‘gave Acre to Palestine’. When the discussion shifted to the border between Syria and Mesopotamia, Gribbon strongly advocated the inclusion of Deir es Zor in the British zone, but Bonar Law was not impressed, ‘the French would make out that the English grabbed every- thing good and left only what was useless’. Allenby, too, was prepared to leave the town to the French, but first Britain should claim it ‘as a bargaining asset […] in order to obtain a good line to the north of Palestine’.⁷¹

With regard to the question of the frontiers between Palestine, Syria and Mesopotamia, it was finally decided ‘after a prolonged conversation at the dinner table’ in which Frank Polk, the head of the American delegation also took part, that paragraph seven of the aide-mémoire to be presented at the meeting of the Heads of Delegtions on 15 September should merely state that ‘in the event of disagreement, the British government was prepared to accept American arbitration in regard to the boundaries of Palestine and Mesopotamia’.⁷²

Balfour had left Paris before Lloyd George arrived there. On his way to Scotland for an extended holiday, he made a stopover in London on 10 September and informed Curzon of his plans to resign as secretary of state for foreign affairs. Curzon wrote afterward to his wife that he had gone ‘over everything with him. He is never coming back to the Foreign Office in any capacity.’ Balfour had told him that ‘he would have resigned at once had not Lloyd George pressed him to stay. He realises that this half-and-half arrangement is hard on me; but says that he is not going to interfere in the smallest degree.’⁷³ On 23 October, after Balfour had returned to London, Curzon was finally appointed foreign secretary.

Colonel Meinertzhagen sent his first dispatch to the Foreign Office on 26 September. He started, ‘as the value of any opinion on controversial matter is enhanced by a knowledge of the personal leanings of the informant’, with an exposition of his own position towards Zionism. He explained that his ‘inclinations towards Jews in general is governed by an anti-semitic instinct which is in- variably modified by personal contact. My views on Zionism are those of an ardent Zionist.’ He therefore did not ‘approach Zionism in Palestine with an open mind, but as one strongly prejudiced in its favour’. Meinertzhagen continued with an analysis of the situation in Palestine. The existing opposition to Zionism sprang ‘from many sources, but they are mainly traceable to a deliberate misunderstanding of the Jew and everything Jewish – this in turn is based on contact with the local Jew, the least representative of Jewry or Zionism’. It was accordingly not ‘difficult to understand that in Palestine every man’s hand is against Zionism’, and that ‘to reconcile this mass of opposition to the policy of H.M.G. has been no easy task for our administration’, especially considering that the personal views of the British administrators, ‘no matter how anxious they are to conceal them, incline towards the exclusion of Zionism in Palestine’. On the whole however, so Meinertzhagen believed, ‘our administration has exhibited laudable tolerance towards a subject they dislike and towards a community which is often unreasonable and by nature exacting’.

Ardent Zionist or not, his first weeks in Palestine had taught Meinertzhagen that the Zionist programme could only succeed – and here he sounded very much like Clayton, Money and Watson – if its ‘growth is slow and methodical. In its incipient stages Zionism can only be artificial and unpopular and though it is realised that eventual success must depend on its own merits, it is only by careful nursing that it will develop a healthy growth.’ He had also reached the conclusion, again in line with the previous warnings by Clayton, Money and Watson, that ‘the people of Palestine are not at present in a fit state to be told openly that the establishment of Zionism is the policy to which H.M.G., America and France are committed’. It had therefore ‘been found advisable to withhold for the present […] from general publication’ the instructions contained in the Foreign Office telegram to Colonel French of 4 August, which had been based on Samuel’s letter of 5 June. He proposed to await Weizmann’s arrival in Palestine – the latter was to take up the presidency of the Zionist Commission for a second turn – and to draw up together with him and General Watson:

A statement giving in the most moderate language what Zionism means, the gradual manner of its introduction […] its eventual benefits to Palestine and a denial that immigration spells the flooding of Palestine with the dregs of Eastern Europe.

This has never been explained to the people of Palestine, and it is the opinion of many officers of the present Administration that if moderately yet frankly put, such a declaration will go far to allay local apprehension.  It drew no comment in London or Paris that Meinertzhagen, the political officer Weizmann, and Samuel had so vigorously lobbied for, had decided to withhold the instructions Samuel had proposed at the invitation of Balfour. Peterson merely minuted that Meinertzhagen ‘should be thanked for his frank despatch’, while Kidston hopefully speculated ‘could we not even now resort to the “international solution” and throw the responsibility on the French?’⁷⁴

On 28 October, Major E.G. Waley, who was political officer in Jerusalem, called the Foreign Office and handed in the text of the draft declaration Meinertzhagen had drawn up. Meinertzhagen stated in his covering letter that the draft had the approval of Watson and Weizmann, and that it would be submitted to Allenby on the latter’s return to Egypt. Waley could ‘personally explain […] the extreme necessity of immediately publishing such a document and the reasons underlying the points mentioned therein’. The draft declaration was quite a lengthy document. It first stipulated that in view of the fact that the British, American and French governments were ‘pledged to support the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine’, it had to ‘be accepted that Zionism is a chose jugée and that continued agitation is only to the detriment of the whole community and will certainly be without the result it aims at attaining’. At the same time it admitted that it was ‘most desirable clearly to state what Zionism means and what it entails, in order to remove some erroneous and exaggerated impressions which exist’. As far as the holy places were concerned, the declaration stated that there was nothing in the Zionist ‘programme or ideals which aims at in any way altering the custody or status of the holy places of all religions in Palestine’. On the subject of Jewish immigration, the declaration assured that ‘Zionism does not entail the flooding of Palestine with the poorer class of Jew’. With respect to the ‘spoliation and ejection of present landowners in Palestine’, the declaration observed that ‘no such idea has existed among responsible Zionists’ and that ‘Zionism is as tolerant and sympathetic towards the sanctity of ownership of property as it is towards religious questions’. It did ‘however require and can reason- ably demand […] a certain degree of preferential treatment in its initial growth’. Regarding the fear that the majority would be subjected to the minority, the draft declaration proclaimed that ‘such a principle [was] entirely opposed to Zionist doctrine of Justice and Freedom, and to the terms of any mandate under which Palestine will be governed’. The draft declaration finally drew attention to the ‘material benefits which will fall to the lot of the people of Palestine, by the realisation of Zionist ideals, [which] have never been sufficiently appreciated. The introduction of Jewish brains and money can only lead to scientific progress, and development.’⁷⁵

Although Peterson believed that the draft declaration was ‘admirably adapted to its purpose’, it was not well received higher up in the Foreign Office’s hierarchy. Kidston had apparently quite forgotten that the original purpose of the proposed declaration had been to make clear that a British mandate and the establishment of a Jewish national home were a chose jugée, and complained that the draft presupposed ‘throughout that Great Britain is to have the mandate for Palestine’. In his view that was still an open question. The declaration should consequently be modified, so that ‘the whole document would be rather in the nature of an apologia for Zionism issued by the Power in Occupation for reasons of internal order than a pledge given by the future mandatory’. Tilley added that he also liked to ‘tone down the passages which extol Zionist virtues. We should not issue a panegyric on Zionism or Zionists but merely state the aims of Zionism and point out that there is nothing to fear from it.’ Hardinge opined that the declaration was ‘unnecesarily aggressive towards those who do not see eye to eye with the Zionists, and we have yet to see how the Zionists behave before we issue panegyrics’. Curzon, finally, objected to ‘the whole thing’ and could not ‘see why we should have any more declarations at any rate before the Mandate is given. The voice may be the voice of Jacob. (Col. M.) But the hand is the hand of Esau. (Dr W.).’ He also believed that the draft declaration went ‘far beyond’ the instructions contained in the Foreign Office telegram of 4 August but as he did not ‘desire to recede from […] the policy of Mr Balfour’, he asked for an alternative draft.

This draft declaration was far shorter than Meinertzhagen’s. It no longer tried to explain what Zionism entailed, but focused on stating what the Balfour Declaration ‘does not contemplate’, namely (a) ‘any interference with the custody of the holy places’; (b) ‘the flooding of Palestine with Jewish immigrants’; (c) ‘spoliation or eviction of present landowners’; and (d) ‘the government of a majority by a minority’. Meinertzhagen’s exposition of the economic benefits of Zionism was reduced to the statement that ‘none can deny the present backward state of industry and agriculture in Palestine. It is in cooperation of the Zionists with the future Mandatory Power that a remedy for this unhappy condition must be sought.’

Curzon minuted on 5 November that he was ‘quite willing to accept the amended declaration. But much doubt if the Zionists will like it.’ The Foreign Office draft was wired to Cairo two days later. Allenby was also in- formed that the Foreign Office had felt unable to approve Meinertzhagen’s draft, ‘since it (a) appears to prejudge the decision of the Peace Conference as to the mandate; (b) commits His Majesty’s Government further than desirable in the direction of endorsing Zionist aspirations and guaranteeing their future conduct’. Allenby was re- quested to consult Meinertzhagen and to ‘telegraph your views as to publication’.⁷⁶

Meinertzhagen replied on 12 November. He refrained from commenting on the Foreign Office’s drastic pruning of his draft declaration, and simply stated that Allenby agreed with the Foreign Office text, subject to one minor alteration, and proposed ‘publication on receipt of your assent to alteration’. The Foreign Office telegraphed its assent on 18 November.⁷⁷ At the beginning of December, the Foreign Office wished to know whether the declaration had ‘been published and if so with what results?’ Meinertzhagen wired back on 9 December that the declaration had not yet been published. He explained that the situation had ‘improved and it may possibly be undesirable to do so but will report further at early date’. A rather startling outcome, especially considering all the time and effort that had been spent on a declaration of this kind since the beginning of June, and Meinertzhagen’s own claim in his letter of 14 October that the early publication of such a declaration was extremely necessary. Tilley, however, was only relieved. He merely minuted that ‘Lord Curzon was by no means anxious to make any declaration’.⁷⁸

On 17 November 1919, Meinertzhagen had sent a dispatch to Curzon in which he had informed the foreign secretary that the provisional line to which the British troops were withdrawing, although it passed ‘considerably north of the Sykes–Picot line,' nevertheless did not satisfy ‘the economic interests of Palestine.' If these were:

To be secured, the northern boundary should […] run from the sea, just north of the Litany river and following up, and at some distance from, the right bank, cross it from west to east about the Litany gorges. The boundary should thence be guided by including those of the Hermon waters which flow into the Litany or Jordan basins.

With respect to the eastern boundary he had emphasised ‘the desirability of Palestine having control over the Jordan valley as a whole, and the lower waters of Jordan tributaries flowing from the east’. When Kidston studied this dispatch on 17 December, he noted that it seemed ‘to be based on the most extreme demands ever put forward by the Zionists. Dan to Beersheba is left far behind.’ Vansittart added that Meinertzhagen’s proposals would be criticised in a memorandum Forbes Adam and he were preparing in reply to a note containing French proposals for the settlement of the outstanding questions in the Middle East that Philippe Berthelot, chief secretary for political and commercial affairs at the French foreign ministry, had submitted on 12 December.⁷⁹

Forbes Adam and Vansittart noted in their memorandum that ‘with regard to the northern and eastern frontier of Palestine, the French Memorandum apparently accepts a rectification of the Sykes–Picot frontier’, and proclaimed that economic considerations were ‘the only really defensible and justifiable basis on which the British proposals for a considerable rectification of the Sykes–Picot line in Palestine in favour of the Zionists can be founded’. The Zionist proposal for the northern frontier, however, went too far. They believed that:

The Zionist aims in this direction can be substantially met if the frontier, instead of including the whole Litani valley from the sea to the bend north- wards, be made to run more or less from the present point of departure of the Sykes-Picot line, north of Acre, north-eastwards so as to include in Palestine the bend of the Litani itself and a small portion of the [?area] to the north of the bend. Thence it might run due east to the southern slopes of Mount He mon south of Rasheya and cutting the Nahr Hasbani.

In their opinion, this line, as it left ‘to Syria the coastal area north of Acre and round Tyre, and also the nationalist districts of Hasbeya and Rasheya would be a very fair compromise’. Should the French nevertheless refuse to accept it, they recommended then that ‘we should revert to the proposal for American arbitration’.⁸⁰

The question of the northern border of Palestine was one of the subjects discussed during an Anglo–French conference on the Turkish settlement at the Foreign Office on 22 and 23 December 1919. Berthelot began by explaining that Clemenceau stood by the Sykes–Picot line. The French prime minister felt that he had already made enough concessions by giving up Mosul and accepting that Great Britain would be the mandatory for Palestine. He was prepared to come to an economic agreement with the Zionists respecting ‘the waters flowing from Mount Hermon southwards’ into Palestine, but further than this the French could not go. Vansittart, supported by Gribbon, replied that ‘it was essential for economic reasons […] that the streams flowing south from the Her-mon into the Jordan basin, and a bit of the Litani, should fall within the Palestine territory’. He subsequently introduced the compromise he and Forbes Adam had come up with. In reaction, Berthelot merely ‘stated that he was not in a position to accept this’. Curzon then intervened. He ‘could not understand why the French government insisted on the Sykes–Picot line, even in places where it had been drawn regardless of political, geographical, or economic facts’. Lloyd George had moreover ‘spoken publicly of the Palestine of the future as comprising the territory from ancient Dan (represented more or less by Banias) to Beersheba, and he felt sure that he was not prepared to give way on this point’. Berthelot answered that he was ‘equally sure that M. Clemenceau was not prepared to yield’. The French prime minister ‘thought that he had already made a great cession in respect of Palestine’.

After an adjournment, Curzon reported that he had spoken with Lloyd George about the northern frontier of Palestine. One of the reasons the Prime Minister felt that the French should accept the British compromise was that he ‘had publicly committed himself on more than one occasion to the formula of including in Palestine all the ancient territories from Dan to Beersheba. He could not recede from this attitude.’ He was, however, ‘quite willing that the question should be submitted to arbitration by the United States’. Berthelot was not impressed. Clemenceau ‘had never agreed to Mr Lloyd George committing himself in this way’. It was regrettable that ‘Mr Lloyd George found himself in a difficult position vis-à-vis the British public in this matter’, and the French government ‘would do what they felt just and possible to help matters’. American arbitration was out of the question; this was ‘a matter which the British and French governments ought to settle themselves’. Curzon closed the discussion by concluding that ‘no agreement seemed possible at present, and that they must each re- port to their respective prime ministers and governments how the matter now stood and the arguments used by both sides’.⁸¹

It seemed that the personal antagonism between Lloyd George and Clemenceau, sparked off by the former’s greediness as well as his belief that the British could dictate terms to the French, and fuelled by the latter’s accusations of bad faith, which had so greatly hampered the finding of a solution to the Syrian question, had finally come to haunt the settlement of the border between Syria and Palestine, but Clemenceau resigned on 20 January 1920 after he had been defeated in the French Presidential elections.

Great Britain received the mandate for Palestine at the San Remo conference. Curzon telegraphed to Hardinge on 26 April that ‘as regards Palestine an Article is […] to be inserted in Peace Treaty entrusting administration to a mandatory, whose duties are defined by a verbatim repetition of Mr Balfour’s declaration of November 1917’.⁸² He further stated that the mandatory power for the country was ‘not mentioned in Treaty, but by an independent decision of Supreme Council was declared to be Great Britain.' As to Palestine’s boundaries, during the conference France and Britain had decided with respect to its eastern frontier to adhere to the line fixed in the Sykes–Picot agreement, where the River Jordan had been the boundary between zone ‘B’ and the area under international administration,⁸³ while the border between Palestine and Syria, so Curzon informed Hardinge, would be ‘determined at a later date by the principal Allied Powers’.⁸⁴ It took France and Great Britain almost three years before they finally managed to settle this boundary. Except for a revision that left the Golan Heights in Syria, it more or less followed the compromise solution formulated by Forbes Adam and Vansittart in December 1919.


When Mark Sykes returned to England he was thrust into negotiations with M. Charles François Georges-Picot, French counselor in London and former French consul general in Beirut, to try to harmonize Anglo-French interests in ‘Turkey-in-Asia’. Picot on the other hand had ‘expressed complete incredulity as to the projected Arab kingdom, said that the Sheikh had no big Arab chiefs with him, that the Arabs were incapable of combining, and that the whole scheme was visionary.' The Arab question and the ‘shocking document’ that shaped the Middle East.

Showing things were not going to well, Britain’s defeat at Gallipoli was followed by an even more devastating setback in the war against the Ottomans: The Menace of Jihad and How to Deal with It.

French rivalry in the Hijaz; the British attempt to get the French government to recognize Britain’s predominance on the Arabian Peninsula; the conflict between King Hussein and Ibn Sa’ud, the Sultan of Najd; the British handling of the French desire to take part in the administration of Palestine; as well as the ways in which the British authorities, in London and on the spot, tried to manage French, Syrian, Zionist and Hashemite ambitions regarding Syria and Palestine. The ‘Arab’ and the ‘Jewish’ question.

The British authorities in Cairo, Baghdad and London steadily lost their grip on the continuing and deepening rivalry between Hussein and Ibn Sa’ud, in particular regarding the possession of the desert town of Khurma. British warnings of dire consequences if the protagonists did not hold back and settle their differences peacefully had little or no effect. All the while the British wanted to abolish the Sykes– Picot agreement. The Syrian question.

One of the most far-reaching outcomes of the First World War was the creation of Palestine, initially under Britain as the Mandatory, out of an ill-defined area of the southern Syrian boundary of the Ottoman Empire. The true history of the Balfour Declaration and its implementations P.1.

The true history of the Balfour Declaration and its implementations P.2.

The true history of the Balfour Declaration and its implementations P.3.


The below mentioned Foreign Office (FO) documents can be searched and read online, here: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/foreign-commonwealth-correspondence-and-records-from-1782


1.  G.O.C.-in-C., Egypt to C.I.G.S., no. E.A. 1808, 23 October 1918, FO 371/3384/178415, see also Bernard Wasserstein, The British in Palestine. The Mandatory Government and the Arab–Jewish Conflict 1917–1929 (London, 1978: Royal Historical Society), pp. 18–20. 

 2.  Trevor Wilson, The Political Diaries of C.P. Scott, 1911–1928 (London, 1970: Collins), pp. 360–1.

 3.  Ormsby Gore, Memorandum on Zionist representation, 15 November 1918, FO 371/3417/ 189315.

 4.  Advisory Committee on Palestine, Proposals Relating to the Establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine, not dated, minutes Ormsby Gore, 19 November 1918, Crowe, 22 November 1918, Hardinge and Cecil, not dated, FO 371/3385/191828.

 5.  Tel. Clayton to Balfour, no. 190, 18 November 1918, FO 371/3385/191229.

 6.  Tel. Clayton to Balfour, no. 197, 20 November 1918, FO 371/3395/191998.

 7.  Tel. Clayton to Balfour, no. A.B. 850, 25 November 1918, FO 371/3385/195250.

 8.  Weizmann, NOTE on the INTERVIEW with Mr BALFOUR, 9 December 1918, FO 371/3385/ 203091.

 9.  Minutes Eastern Committee, 5 December 1918, Cab 27/24.

10.  Minutes Eastern Committee, 16 December 1918, ibid.

11.  Weizmann, INTERVIEW with EMIR FEISAL at the CARLTON HOTEL, December 11th 1918, encl. in Weizmann to Crowe, 16 December 1918, FO 371/3420/207372.

12.  Tel. Weizmann to Eder, 17 December 1918, tel. Clayton to Balfour, no. 259, 31 December 1918, minutes Clark Kerr, 9 January 1919 and Curzon, 10 January 1919, FO 371/4170/1051.

13. Tel. Clayton to Balfour, no. 213, 5 December 13 1918, Cab 27/38.

14. Minute Curzon, 10 January 1919, FO 371/4170/ 1051.

15. Curzon to Balfour, 16 January 1919 (italics in original), Lloyd George Papers, F/3/4/4.

16. Balfour to Curzon, 20 January 1919 (italics in original), Lloyd George Papers, F/3/4/8.

17.  Tel. Clayton to Allenby, no. 10, 9 January 1919, FO 371/4178/5161.

18. Walter Laqueur, The Israel–Arab Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict (New York, 1970: Bantam Books), pp. 18–20.

19. Minutes Toynbee, 17 January 1919, and Ormsby Gore, not dated, FO 608/98/159.

20. See Ormsby Gore, Note on a conversation between Sir Louis Mallet and Mr Nahum Sokolov, 21 January 1919, FO 608/98/465.

21. Ormsby Gore, PALESTINE. Zionist Proposals regarding future constitution, 22 January 1919, minutes Mallet, not dated, FO 608/98/508.

22. Ormsby Gore to Sokolov, 24 January 1919, FO 608/98/633.

23. Kidston, note, 25 January 1919 and minutes Graham, 25 January 1919, and Curzon, 26 January 1919 (underlining in original), FO 608/ 99/2017.

24. Curzon to Balfour, 26 January 1919, minutes Drummond and Balfour, not dated (underlining in original) Balfour Papers, FO 800/215.

25. Minute Mallet, 30 January 1919, FO 608/98/ 1295.

26. Statement of the Zionist Organisation regarding Palestine, 3 February 1919, minutes Ormsby Gore, 12 February 1919, and Mallet, not dated, FO 608/99/1627.

27. Richard Meinertzhagen, Middle East Diary, 1917– 1956 (London, 1959: The Cresset Press), pp. 8–9.

28. Bourne to Talbot, 25 January 1919 (underlining in original), encl. in Lloyd George to Kerr, 15 February 1919, Lloyd George Papers, F/89/2/15.

29. Kerr to Lloyd George, 17 February 1919, Lloyd George Papers, F/89/2/22.

30. Balfour to Lloyd George, 19 February 1919, Lloyd George Papers, F/3/4/12.

31. Secretary’s Notes of a Conversation, 27 February 1919, Lloyd George Papers, F/121.

32. Tel. Clayton to Curzon, no. 162/426, 28 February 1919, FO 608/107/3449.

33. Clayton to Curzon, 2 March 1919, FO 608/98/ 5171.

34. Notes of a Conference, 20 March 1919, FRUS, Vol. V, p. 13.

35. Balfour, note, 23 March 1919 (italics in original), and minute Clark Kerr, 4 April 1919, FO 371/ 4171/51811

36. House, diary entry, 26 March 1919, House Papers, MSS 466.

37. Hogarth to Clayton, 30 March 1919, Hogarth Papers.

38. Curzon to Balfour, private and confidential, 25 March 1919, Balfour Papers, FO 800/215.

39. Balfour to Samuel, 31 March 1919, Balfour Papers, Add. Mss. 49745.

40. See Balfour to Weizmann, private, 3 April 1919, FO 608/99/6950.

41. Samuel to Balfour, 7 April 1919, and Weizmann to Balfour, 9 April 1919, Balfour Papers, FO 800/ 216.

42. Weizmann to Drummond, 14 April 1919, FO 608/100/7396.

43. Tel. Clayton to Curzon, no. 140, 30 April 1919, FO 608/100/9208.

44. Tel. Clayton to Curzon, no. C. 155, 2 May 1919, minute Kidston, 6 May 1919, FO 371/4180/ 68848.

45. Thwaites to Hardinge, 13 May 1919, minutes Forbes Adam, 12 May 1919, and Mallet, not dated, FO 608/99/9567.

46. Advisory Committee on Economic Development in Palestine, 5th Meeting, 10 May 1919, FO 608/ 100/11752.

47. Balfour to Curzon, no. 760, 19 May 1919, FO/99/9567.

48. Tel. Curzon to Clayton, no. 181. Urgent, 27 May 1919, FO 371/4180/76242.

49. Tel. Clayton to Curzon, no. 338, 9 June 1919, FO 608/99/12759.

50. Clayton to Curzon, C.P.O. 190, 19 June 1919, DBFP, IV, p. 282.

51. The Secretary, Zionist Commission to Aaronsohn and Frankfurter, 8 May 1919, minute Meinertzhagen, 3 June 1919, FO 608/99/11592.

52. Tyrrell to Samuel, 31 May 1919, DBFP, IV, p. 283.

53. Samuel to Tyrrell, 5 June 1919, minutes Peterson, not dated, Kidston, 12 June 1919, Graham and Curzon, 13 June 1919, FO 371/4181/86424.

54. Minute Forbes Adam, 10 June 1919, FO 608/99/ 12093.

55. Frankfurter, Memorandum of an interview, 24 June 1919, DBFP, Vol. IV, pp. 1276–7.

56. Balfour, Memorandum, 26 June 1919, ibid., p. 56 302. 

57. Balfour to Curzon, no. 1132, 1 July 1919, FO 371/ 4181/96834.

58. Graham, note of conversations with Mr Samuel and Dr Weizmann, 2 July 1919, minute Curzon, 3 July 1919, FO 371/4181/98082.

59. Minute Clayton, 8 July 1919, ibid.

60. Minutes of Meeting with General Clayton, Strictly Confidential, 9 July 1919, encl. in Clayton to Kidston, 23 July 1919, FO 371/4225/107282.

61. Minutes Clayton, 25 July 1919, Curzon, 27 July 1919, and Kidston, 4 August 1919, and tel. Curzon to French, no. 245, 4 August 1919, FO 371/4181/96834.

62. Bernard Wasserstein has pointed out that Money resigned of his own accord, ‘mainly for private reasons’. He also quotes a letter Money sent to the editor of the Daily Mail, which was published on 12 January 1923, in which he denied that he ‘had been recalled from Palestine as a result of Zionist pressure’, and declared that he ‘resigned for purely private reasons’. Wasserstein, The British, pp. 48, 49.

63. Weizmann to Balfour, 23 July 1919, minute Forbes Adam, 29 July 1919, FO 608/99/16465.

64. Balfour to Curzon, no. 1485, 1 August 1919, minutes Clark Kerr, 6 August 1919, and Curzon, not dated, FO 371/4233/111235.

65. Curzon to Balfour, 9 August 1919, Balfour Papers, Add. Mss. 49734.

66. Balfour, memorandum, 11 August 1919, DBFP, Vol. IV, pp. 345, 347.

67. Watson, Secret, no. 6145/P., 16 August 1919, encl. in French to Curzon, no. C.P.O. 31/110, 26 August 1919, FO 608/99/17239.

68. Curzon to Balfour, 20 August 1919, Balfour Papers, Add. Mss. 49734.

69. Notes of a Meeting, 9 September 1919, Cab 21/ 153.

70. Notes of a Meeting, 10 September 1918, ibid.

71. Notes of a Meeting, 11 September 1919, ibid.

72. Notes of a Meeting, 12 September 1919, ibid.

73.  Ronalds hay, The Life of, Vol. III, pp. 204–5.

74. Meinertzhagen to Curzon, no. C.P.O. 31/1, 26 September 1919, minutes Peterson, 15 October 1919 and Kidston, 16 October 1919, FO 371/ 4184/141037.

75.  Campbell, note, 28 October 1919, Draft Declaration of [on] Zionism, encl. in Meinertzhagen to Curzon, no. C.P.O. 31/1, 14 October 1919, DBFP, Vol. IV, pp. 470–3.

76.  Minutes Peterson, 29 October 1919, Kidston and Tilley, 29 October 1919, Hardinge, not dated, Curzon, 30 October 1919, Tilley and Curzon, 5 November 1919, tel. Curzon to Allenby, no. 1216, 7 November 1919, FO 371/4184/146382.

77.  Tels Meinertzhagen to Curzon, no. 495, 12 November 1919, and Curzon to Meinertzhagen, no. 340, 18 November 1919, DBFP, Vol. IV, p. 529.

78.  Tels Curzon to Meinertzhagen, no. 351, 5 December 1919 and Meinertzhagen to Curzon, no. 513, 9 December 1919; ibid., p. 571; and minute Tilley, 17 December 1919, FO 371/4186/ 161583. Meinertzhagen to Curzon, no. C.P.O. 181, 17

79.  November 1919, minutes Kidston, 17 December 1919, and Vansittart, 19 December 1919, FO 371/ 4186/161829.

80.  Comments of the Political Section of the British Peace Delegation, not dated, DBFP, Vol. IV, pp. 578, 580–2.

81.  Notes of an Anglo–French Meeting, 23 December 1919, ibid., pp. 595–601. On the basis of her overview of Curzon’s functioning during the latter’s nine months as acting secretary of state for foreign affairs, Gaynor Johnson reaches the conclusion that ‘Curzon’s impact on […] the conduct of British foreign policy was significant’. According to Johnson, ‘Curzon effectively and convincingly fought of challenges to his authority at the Foreign Office from within the Cabinet and was looked to for leadership in the discussion of foreign policy by senior members of the British delegation at the peace conference’. After reading Chapters 10 and 11, it will be clear that this conclusion cannot stand as far as Syria and Palestine are concerned. In the case of Syria, Curzon disagreed with Lloyd George, but bowed to his wishes, while with respect to Palestine he disagreed with Balfour, but again bowed to his wishes, even after Balfour had left office. It is my strong impression that with Curzon it was enough if he could argue his case, show off his vast knowledge of the East, and that he refused to be bothered with the political manoeuvres, tactics and sweet talk necessary to convince others that it was also in their interest to adopt the policies he advocated. Winston Churchill in Great Contemporaries reached the same conclusion: ‘one of Curzon’s characteristic weaknesses was that he thought too much about stating his case, and too little about getting things done. When he […] had brought a question before the Cabinet in full and careful form with all his force and knowledge, he was inclined to feel that his function was fulfilled.’  Gaynor Johnson, ‘Preparing for office: Lord Curzon as Acting Foreign Secretary, January– October 1919’, Contemporary British History, 18/3 (2004), pp. 69–70; Winston S. Churchill, Great Contemporaries (London, 1948: Odhams Press), p. 219.

82.  Tel. Curzon to Hardinge, no. 38, 26 April 1920, DBFP, Vol. XIII, p. 251.

83.  British Secretary’s Notes of a Meeting, 25 April 1920, DBFP, Vol. VIII, pp. 172–3.

84.  Tel. Curzon to Hardinge, no. 38, 26 April 1920, DBFP, Vol. XIII, p. 251.