Jewish Agency for Palestine,
Specified in Article 4 of the ‘British Mandate for Palestine’ formulated
at the post WW I San Remo Conference in 1920 and confirmed by the League
of Nations in 1922, the Article called for the formation of an Agency that
will administer and respond to the needs of the Zionist and Jewish
population of Palestine The Arabs were offered the opportunity to
establish a parallel agency, but their leadership turned it down.
British Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill, upon visiting the Middle
East in 1920 and 1921 responding to anti-Semitic voices raised in the
government claiming that the Jews are not needed to develop Palestine,
said: “Left to themselves the Arabs of Palestine would not in a thousand
years have taken effective steps towards irrigation and electrification of
Palestine. They would be content to dwell in the wasted sun-drenched
plains letting the waters of the Jordan flow unhindered into the Dead
Sea.” The Mandate of Palestine-Transjordan was awarded to Britain by the
League of Nations while the French were awarded the Mandate for Syria and
Lebanon. The British Mandate in Palestine lasted from 1920 to 1948, and
was governed by a series of seven High Commissioners.
Jewish Agency became the quasi-government of the Jewish inhabitants and
was headed by Ben Gurion whose party dominated it. It performed all
governmental functions in addition to fostering and supporting illegal
immigration to Palestine, land purchases, the establishment of settlement
and the development and repopulation of the land. The Histadrut became the
Jewish Agency’s economic arm and the Haganah its defense force, fending
off Arab attacks.
1948, upon the British departure and the declaration of the independent
state of Israel, the Jewish Agency for Palestine led by Ben- Gurion
transformed itself into the provisional government of the new state.
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