Fanack Home / Israel / Past to Present / Rise of Zionism / The British White Paper

The British White Paper

War loomed over Europe, and this threat induced the British government to revise its policy towards Palestine once more. If Britain had to go to war, Arab hostility in the region towards London could have dangerous effects. In May 1939, the British government issued a White Paper which stated that ‘His Majesty’s Government believe that the framers of the Mandate in which the Balfour Declaration was embodied could not have intended that Palestine should be converted into a Jewish State against the will of the Arab population of the country’. The government therefore declared ‘unequivocally that it is not part of their policy that Palestine should become a Jewish State. They would indeed regard it as contrary to their obligations to the Arabs under the Mandate, as well as to the assurances which have been given to the Arab people in the past, that the Arab population of Palestine should be made the subjects of a Jewish State against their will’. Palestine would gain independence by circa 1949 and would include ‘a Jewish Home’.

The White Paper put severe restrictions on Jewish immigration in Palestine, that would have to be at a rate ‘which, if economic absorptive capacity permits, will bring the Jewish population on to approximately one third of the total population in the country (…). This would allow the admission (…) of some 75,000 immigrants over the next four years.’ Thereafter, Jewish immigration would depend on Palestinian consent.

Palestinians and the Zionist movement alike rejected the White Paper. When in September 1939 war was declared in Europe, the leader of the Jewish Agency in Palestine, David Ben-Gurion, stated that ‘we (the Jews) shall fight this war as if there was no White Paper en we shall fight the White Paper as if there was no war’. But the relative degree of cooperation between the British and the Jews in Palestine had come to an end.

Further Reading

Israel witnessed the war against Lebanon and three other wars against Gaza. Furthermore, the United States announced its...
Fanack’s Israel country file provides a comprehensive overview about Israel, its history, politics, culture, economy a...
The declaration linked the establishment of a Jewish state directly to 'the catastrophe which recently befell the Jewish...

© Copyright Notice

Please contact us in case of omissions concerning copyright-protected work. The acquired copyright protected images used on/as featured image of this page are: ©WIKIMEDIA COMMONS | ©WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

"The heritage of knowledge is more valuable than gold."
Yahya ibn Abi Kathir (769-848)

We are a Dutch not for profit organisation (NGO), financed solely by individuals who share our belief in the importance of publishing and disseminating reliable, unbiased information on the Middle East & North Africa region. To represent the voice of the region’s people, we carefully echo the region’s heartbeat by offering fact-checked and therefore credible information.

Your support is greatly appreciated and helpful!