Balfour Declaration of 1917

Balfour Declaration of 1917

Page d’aide sur l’homonymieFor disambiguation, see Balfour Déclaration.

Balfour and the text of the Declaration.

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 is a letter signed by Arthur Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary and open dated 2 November 1917 . It is addressed to Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild (1868-1937), eminence of the British Jewish community and of the Zionist movement, for the purposes of retransmission.

« Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have the pleasure to convey to you on behalf of her Majesty’s Government, the statement below from sympathy to the address of the Jewish and Zionist, aspirations statement submitted to Parliament and approved by him.

Her Majesty’s Government is considering favourably the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use every effort to facilitate the achievement of this objective, being clearly understood that nothing be done that could undermine or rights civil and religious non-Jewish communities existing in Palestine, or the rights and political status which the Jews have in any other country.

I would be grateful to bring this declaration to the attention of the Zionist Federation.

Arthur James Balfour»

The statement is published in the Times of London on 9 November, in the insert « Palestine for the Jews.  » Official Sympathy. »

By this letter, the United Kingdom declares itself in favour the establishment in Palestine of a home national Jewish. This statement is considered to be one of the first steps in the creation of the State of Israel1. Indeed, the promise contained in it will be implemented during the Paris conference (1919), prior to the Treaty of Sèvres (1920), confirmed by the San Remo conference (1920).

•1 prior
•2 geopolitical motivations
◦2.1 mineral resources
◦2.2 Western presence
◦2.3 Christian Zionism
◦2.4 reversal of alliance of the diaspora
◦2.5 other explanations
◾2.5.1 containment of the France
•3 controversy
•4 symbol
•5 . see also
•6 notes and references


At the dawn of the First world war, Palestine is part of theottoman Empire. This is one of the last areas that keep the Empire in decline, which had already lost during the XIXe century most of its territories in Europe, the Maghreb and the Mashreq.

It is any one of central powers engaged in the conflict, maintaining strong links with the Germany. Powers reflect their lust by different purposes: the completion of the Berlin-Baghdad railway, on the German side, the remodeling of the region, the British side, that spends secret agreements Franco, so-called Sykes-Picot, and official support for Arab nationalism.

The Great revolt of 1916-1918 Arab breaks the ottoman State and opens several flanks in Arab areas. The British assisted by French and Italians raise in March 1917 the campaign in Palestine, but a first failure , and then a second led to the removal of a part of the British command and six months of stalemate. Finally, Britishtroops, led by General Sir Edmund Allenbywon on 31 October a decisive victory in Beer-Sheva near Gaza. The success was confirmed the day after November 2 during the third battle of Gaza.

Geopolitical motivations

Several different reasons were mentioned to justify the decision of Lord Balfour to engage the British Empire in Zionism.

The subsurface resources

This is the time of the ‘ Great game ‘, in the words of Rudyard Kipling, to control oil-rich areas and protect access to the Indies.

The Germans are seeking to complete the Berlin-Baghdad railway. The campaign in Mesopotamia (1914-15) by British and Indian forces target the Kuwait and Basra oil fields. The Sykes-Picot agreements, confirmed by the Treaty of Sèvres, confirm oil tropism.

The donation to the Jews of Palestine would be part of a broader plan control of trade routes in the context of this great game. If the Iraq is close to the Red Sea, and therefore of the India, Palestine is close to the Suez canal in Egypt.

Western presence

After Jacob Yeredor, a partly Jewish Palestine ensures a presence of European origin in the Middle East, Arab and mainly Muslim region2 .

Christian Zionism

Of after the historian Jill Hamilton, [insufficient ref.] would satisfy Protestants said current Christian Zionist, current mainly American but to return to the United Kingdom to the XIXe century.

Reversal of alliance of the diaspora

According the American anti-Zionist author Benjamin Freedman3, Zionist confederation would have approached the English offering them to engage the United States in the war on their side if Palestine, then under Ottoman and defended domination by the Triple Alliance, came back them. Until 1916, England was inclined to accept an armistice with the central powers, but, according to Freedman, the possibility of a U.S. commitment has changed the situation.

This would have constituted a change of major alliance: the countries of the central powers were all favorable to the Jews, while the Triple Entente included the Russian Empire where Jews were not emancipated1 (the Balfour declaration dated one week before the October revolution).

The statement seems to seal this new Pact, just after the English victory at the battle of Beersheba on October 31, 1917.

Other explanations
1.Limit expenditures for the United Kingdom, crushed under the weight of the war effort. [citation needed]
2.Promote the recruitment of the Jews of Russia for the world war, rather than the Revolution of October. [citation needed]
3.According to the then Prime Minister Lloyd George, in his memoirs [insufficient ref.], thank Chaim Weizmann for the synthesis ofacetone, a component of the cordite.
4.Engaging the United States in the world war by the publication of a secret letter from Germany to the Mexico to plan an attack (see Zimmermann telegram)[citation needed] .

Containment of the France

Containment of the French presence. [citation needed]
1.Create an altruistic excuse for preempting them Palestine against France.
2.Create a  » buffer State  » between Suez and the french Lebanon, in order to have a friendly State in the Arab world, subsequent disturbances.


The Balfour declaration is in contradiction with the commitments made to Arab nationalists who claim a large State independent (agreements Hussein-McMahon in 1915). The Arab uprising was strategically supported by the powers of the agreement, in the sense that it greatly weakened the ottoman Empire.

They in fact prolong the Sykes-Picot agreements, secretly concluded in 1916, which provided the International Trusteeship of the Ottoman possessions in the Middle East4 .

During the dismantling of the ottoman empire, the Arab world expected promised independence, but a part of the population becomes aware of what they were trying to hide him. On 7 November 1918, a Franco-British statement is broadcast in all the towns and villages controlled by the Allies as well as in newspapers. The British and french Governments there say « the objective sought by the France and Great Britain [is] the establishment of Governments and national administrations which will hold their authority of the initiative and the choice of the indigenous populations »5 .

However, the San Remo conference (1920) does no Arab demands. The British and french mandates in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine replace Turkish rule over a large part of the territory claimed by the panarabistes. In addition, they allow the rooting of the Zionist movement, now supported by the British Empire.


The declaration is a landmark for the Zionist movement. As early as November 1918, in Jaffa, a parade celebrating its first anniversary.

The work table of Balfour at the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv

See also
•Arab-Israeli conflict
•Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Notes and references
1.↑ a and b « This open letter is the English of another interest to reassure Jewish Americans, more likely to support the central powers as an alliance where figure the Russia heavily anti-Semitic past. But it will legitimize thirty years more before the creation of the State of Israel.  »
2.↑ Yeredor Jacob, ‘The Palestine and the policy of the great powers’, foreign policy, no 3, 1948, 13e year, pp. 235-244 doi: 10.3406/polit.1948.2854.
3.↑ Benjamin Freedman, Conference of 1961. Caution, Delacroix, trans. fr. 2006.
4.↑ ‘ Balfour declaration ‘ on
5.↑ Xavier Baron, Palestinians: genesis of a nation, Seuil, 2000, p. 21

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La Déclaration Balfour de 1917 est une lettre ouverte datée du 2 novembre 1917 et signée par Arthur Balfour, le Foreign Secretary britannique.


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