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75 years: The British Mandate of Palestine is officially terminated as the state of Israel comes into being

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Authored by Tommy Dolan
Published on 14th May, 2023 3 min read

75 years: The British Mandate of Palestine is officially terminated as the state of Israel comes into being.

On this day (14/05/2023) 75 years ago, the British mandate for Palestine was ended and the independent state of Israel came into being.

The British army occupied Palestine, formerly part of Ottoman Syria, in 1917. The British mandate was granted on 25th April 1920 at the San Remo Conference (at which the term "Palestine" was used to denote the land west of the River Jordan). Nearly three months later (24th July), the mandate was approved by the fledgling League of Nations. 

The spirit and principles of the Balfour Declaration of November 1917, in which the British government declared its support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people, were incorporated into the mandate. Britain was likewise duty-bound, under the terms of the mandate, to administer the territory in the best interests of Palestine’s Arab population.

Throughout the era of the mandate, two essentially independent states, Arab and Israeli, emerged. Confrontations between members of the two communities were frequent and violent: following the Wailing Wall riots of 1929 the British government established the Shaw Commission to investigate the conflict; a major Arab revolt in 1936 precipitated a Royal Commission of Inquiry, headed by William Peel. Its conclusion, that the partition of Palestine was necessary, triggered further Arab protests which, in-turn, elicited repressive measures on the part of the British. The British government’s White Paper of 1939 again mooted the idea of a bi-national state in Palestine. Upon the outbreak of the Second World War, Britain more or less shelved the partition solution. With continued instability in the region rendering the mandate unpopular at home and Britain’s post-war retreat from empire gaining pace, the government referred the Palestine question to the United Nations in 1947. A UN Special Commission advocated partition and the British mandate of Palestine was consigned to history in May of 1948. 


British civilians leave Palestine in February 1947The creation of the state of Israel was opposed by Palestinian Arabs backed by Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt, leading to the outbreak of the first Arab-Israeli War. Israeli victory was secured by 1949. This conflict caused large-scale displacement of Palestine’s Arab population and resulted in the division of the disputed territory into three parts: the State of Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.


A major development in world history, stemming for the collapse of empires in the wake of the First World War and the rise of the concept of national self-determination, the creation of Israel bequeathed the world a challenge. The prospect of forging a peaceful and equitable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains elusive.


Authored by Tommy Dolan

Tommy Dolan

Tommy Dolan is Senior Editor at British Online Archives. He gained his PhD in History from the University of Edinburgh in 2016. Between 2019 and 2022 he was a post-doctoral fellow on the Leverhulme-funded project 'Rethinking Civil Society: History, Theory, Critique' at the University of York. He then joined the metadata team at the University of York library. Tommy has published in the Historical Journal, the Journal of the History of European Ideas, and Studia Hibernica. His research focuses on the way in which readings of history have influenced political thought in Ireland, particularly with respect to the architects of the Northern Ireland Peace Process. Tommy is currently also co-editor of Writing the Troubles.


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The British Online Archives Notable Days diary is a platform intended to mark key dates and events throughout the year. The posts draw attention to historical events and figures, as well as recurring cultural traditions and international awareness days, in both religious and secular contexts.

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