- See also Palestine
Mandatory Palestine was a geopolitical entity established between 1920 and 1948 as a League of Nations mandate for British administration of the territories of Palestine and Transjordan, both of which had been taken from the Ottoman Empire following the end of World War I.
The United Kingdom had agreed in the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence that it would honour Arab independence if they revolted against the Ottomans, but the two sides had different interpretations of this agreement, and in the end the UK and France divided up the area under the Sykes–Picot Agreement — an act of betrayal in the eyes of the Arabs. Further complicating the issue was the so-called Balfour Declaration of 1917, promising British support for a Jewish "national home" [somewhere] in Palestine.
During the British Mandate period the area experienced the ascent of two major nationalist movements, one among the minority Jews and the other among the majority Palestinian Arabs. The competing national interests of the two populations against each other and against the governing British authorities matured into the Arab Revolt of 1936–1939 and the continuing Jewish insurgency in Mandatory Palestine.
In September 1947, the British cabinet decided that the Mandate was no longer tenable, and to evacuate Palestine. According to Colonial Secretary Arthur Creech Jones, four major factors led to the decision to evacuate Palestine: the inflexibility of Jewish and Arab negotiators who were unwilling to compromise on their core positions over the question of a Jewish state in Palestine, the economic pressure that stationing a large garrison in Palestine to deal with the Jewish insurgency, and the possibility of a wider Jewish rebellion and the possibility of an Arab rebellion place upon a British economy already ruined by World War II, the "deadly blow to British patience and pride" caused by the Jewish terrorist hangings of several British Arm sergeants, and the mounting criticism the government faced in failing to find a new policy for Palestine in place of the 1939 'White Paper'.
On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 (II) recommending the adoption and implementation of the Plan of Partition with Economic Union. The plan attached to the resolution was proposed by the majority of the Committee in the report of 3 September. The Jewish Agency, which claimed to be the representative of the Jewish community in Palestine, accepted the plan, which assigned to Jews – a third of the population owning less than 7% of the land – 55–56% of Mandatory Palestine. The Arab League and Arab Higher Committee of Palestine rejected it, and indicated that they would reject any other plan of partition. On the following day, 1 December 1947, the Arab Higher Committee proclaimed a three-day strike, and riots broke out in Jerusalem. The situation spiraled into a civil war; just two weeks after the UN vote, the British Colonial Secretary announced that the British Mandate would end on 15 May 1948, at which point the British would evacuate the country. As Arab militias attacked Jewish areas, they were faced mainly by the Haganah, as well as the smaller Irgun and Lehi, all Jewish terrorist groups. In April 1948, the Haganah moved onto the offensive. During this period 250,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled.
On 14 May 1948, the day before the expiration of the British Mandate, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, declared "the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel."