Joint Arab-Jewish agreement on Jewish Homeland,
January 3, 1918
Feisal Hussein, King of Iraq and Syria agreed
to Jewish National Home according to British Mandate (Israel and Jordan)
in 1918. King of Iraq from 1921; eldest son of Hussein, sherif of
Mecca. He led the Arab intifada against Turkey (1916-1918) and was
designated king of Syria. Feisal was at first sympathetic to a Jewish
Homeland from which he hoped to receive aid in building his future kingdom.
He met Dr. Weizmann in Jordan (1918) and Paris (1919) where they reached
an agreement on mutual aid, conditional on the implementation of British
promises to the Arabs. Later, owing to his expulsion from Syira by
the French (1920) and the influence of other Arab leaders, his attitude
later became hostile.
By the mid-19th century, up to 100,000
people lived in Palestine, including a high percentage of Jews, whose forebears
had lived there for thousands of years. In 1882, roughly 200,000 Muslims
lived in all of Western Palestine.1
By 1918, the situation had not changed much: That was why Hussein ibn-Ali,
Sherif of Mecca, and his son, King Faisal of Iraq, both endorsed and extolled
the Balfour Declaration
Hussein wrote in Mecca's Al Qibla,
in 1918, "The resources of the country are still virgin soil and will be
developed by the Jewish immigrants. One of the most amazing things until
recent times was that the Palestinian used to leave his country, wandering
over the high seas in every direction. His native soil could not retain
a hold on him.... At the same time, we have seen the Jews from foreign
countries streaming to Palestine from Russia, Germany, Austria, Spain,
and America. The cause of causes could not escape those who had a gift
of deeper insight. They knew that the country was for its original sons
[abna'ihi-l-asliyin], for all their differences, a sacred and beloved
homeland. The return of these exiles [jaliya] to their homeland
will prove materially and spiritually an experimental school for their
brethren who are with them in the fields, factories, trades and all things
connected to the land."
In early 1919, King Faisal, then the only
recognized Arab leader in the world, executed a treaty with Chaim Weizmann
adopting the understanding of the Balfour Declaration. It outlined relations
between Palestine and the Arab state, recognizing the former as a National
Home for the Jews, in which they should quickly settle. He wrote, "We Arabs,
especially the educated among us, look with the deepest sympathy on the
Zionist movement. Our delegation here in Paris is fully acquainted with
the proposals submitted yesterday to the Zionist organization to the Peace
Conference, and we regard them as moderate and proper." (emphasis
The 1919 Faisal-Weizmann treaty provided
a firm foundation for League of Nations ratification of the Balfour Declaration
at the San Remo Conference in 1920. The proposals covered Palestine - from
the Mediterranean through the entire Galilee, up to the Litany River, hundreds
of miles east of the Jordan River through all of current day Jordan, and
into part of the Sinai. The League assigned Palestine Mandate administration
to Britain, entrusting it to establish the National Home for the Jews.
Agreement Between Emir Feisal Husseini and
His Royal Highness the Emir FEISAL, representing
and acting on behalf of the Arab Kingdom of Hedjaz, and Dr. CHAIM WIEZMANN,
representing and acting on behalf of the Zionist Organization.
mindful of the racial kinship and ancient
bonds existing between the Arabs and the Jewish people, and realising that
the surest means of working out the consumation of their national aspirations
is through the closest possible collaboration in the development of the
Arab State and Palestine, and being desirous further of confirming the
good understanding which exists between them,
have agreed upon the following Articles;-
The Arab State and Palestine in all
their relations and undertakings shall be controlled by the most cordial
goodwill and understanding and to this end Arab and Jewish duly accredited
agents shall be established and maintained in the respective territories.
Immediately following the completion
of the deliberations of the Peace Conference, the definite boundaries between
the Arab State and Palestine shall be determined by a Commission to be
agreed upon by the parties hereto.
In the establishment of the Constitution
and Administration of Palestine all such measures shall be adopted as will
afford the fullest guarantee for carrying into effect the British Government's
Declaration of the 2nd of November, 1917.
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 measures the Arab peasant and tenant farmes shall
be protected in their rights and shall be assisted in forwaxiiing their
No regulation nor Iaw shall be made
prohibiting or interfering in any way with the free exercise of religion;
and further the free excercise and enjoyment of religious profession and
worship without discimimtion or preference shell forever be allowed. No
religious test shall ever be required for the exercise of civil or political
The Mohammedan Holy Places shall be
under Mohammedan control.
The Zionist Organization proposes to
send to Palestine a Commission of experts to make a survey of the economic
possibilities of the country, and to report upon the best means for its
development. The Zionist Organisation will place the aforementioned Comission
at the disposal of the Arab State for the purpose of a survey of the economic
possibilities of the Arab State and to report upon the best means for its
development. The Zionist Organization will use Its best efforts to assist
the Arab State in providing the means for developing the natural resources
and economic possibilities thereof.
The parties hereto agree to act in
complete accord and harmony on all matters embraced herein before the Peace
Any matters of dispute which my arise
between the contracting parties shall be referred to the British Government
Given under our hand at LONDON.
ENGLAND, the THIRD day of
JANUARY, ONE THOUSAND NINE
HUNDRED AND EIGHTEEN.
RESERVATION BY THE EMIR FEISAL
If the Arabs are established as I have
asked in my manifesto of January 4th addressed to the British Secretary
of State for Foreign Affairs, 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.
Battleground, pp. 90-115 (citing De Haas, Jacob, History of Palestine:
Last Two Thousand Years, New York: Macmillan, 1934), 123-127; Peters,
Joan, From Time Immemorial, pp. 244-245, citing Dr. Carl Herman
Voss, The Palestine Problem Today, Israel and Its Neighbors (Boston:
Beacon Press, 1953), p. 13. Western Palestine (also then called Southern
Syria) was considerably larger than the area that later became Israel.
It is very misleading to cite their populations interchangeably, as Peters
Samuel, Battlegound: Fact and Fantasy in Palestine, 123-127.
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