Pangs of the Messiah: The Troubled Birth of the Jewish State

By Martin Sicker | Go to book overview
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determination of the Yishuv to boycott participation in the council. In November the mufti made the Arab conditions for participation known to Wauchope. These included a sovereign Parliament that reflected the Arab majority in the country and a ban on all further Jewish immigration and land transfers to Jews. While the Arab demands were being considered in London, Wauchope formally presented the offer of a legislative council and home rule to both Arabs and Jews in December. The following month the British government responded to the Arab demands by rejecting the cessation of all immigration. But, at the same time, it indicated the possibility that legislation placing some restrictions on land transfers might be introduced.

On April 2, 1936, the Arabs were invited to send a delegation to London to discuss the matter. The invitation was accepted, but the Arab leadership was still divided over the question of whether to accept the British offer of a home rule constitution. Some of the Arab leaders had come to the realization that acceptance of the British offer would give them effective control of the country even if the Jews should elect to participate in the new political process. However, this would also mean an acknowledgment of the validity of the Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate, something that was difficult for the ardent nationalists among them to accept after having categorically rejected the establishment of a legislative council, for that very reason, for more than a decade.

While the Arabs deliberated about what to do, a series of debates took place in Parliament that clearly indicated that the mood of the House of Commons was running against the government's proposals. The parliamentary opposition to the establishment of the legislative council was not simply a reflection of support for the Zionists. There were many who held that it would require a longer period of British tutelage than that provided for in the proposal to ensure that a genuinely democratic legislative system would be established. To forestall any domestic political embarrassment over a possible failure by the government to carry the day on the issue, the government effectively dropped the constitutional scheme for Palestine on April 8, 1936. It announced that it was delaying action on the proposal pending further discussions with the proposed participants. Within days, there was a new and major outbreak of Arab violence.

Melvin I. Urofsky, A Voice nat Spoke for Justice, p. 220.
Walter Laqueur, A History of Zionism, p. 495.


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