Noam Schimmel says the history of Trans-Jordan and later Jordan is integral to understanding the history of the British mandate in Palestine; Michael Laird writes that November also sees the 70th anniversary of the UN resolution to partition Palestine; plus letters from Jeremy Beecham, Margaret and Robin Derbyshire, and Rob Wall
Ian Black (Britain’s calamitous promise, 17 October) omits a critical aspect of the history of the Balfour declaration and British policy towards Jewish immigration and settlement which had significant impact on Jews, Palestinians and on Jordanians as well. In 1922 and the years following, Winston Churchill’s government forbade Jews from residency in what was then known as Trans-Jordan, now as Jordan. This cut off all land east of the Jordan river from Jewish settlement. Four-fifths of Mandatory Palestine was thus dedicated to the creation of an Arab state.
While Palestine and later Israel would both have large Jewish and Arab populations, Trans-Jordan, and later Jordan, became almost exclusively Arab with a majority Palestinian population, minority Bedouin population, and no Jewish population at all. The history of Trans-Jordan and later Jordan is integral to understanding the history of the British mandate in Palestine and the complex fate of Jews, Palestinians and Arabs as a whole and their relationships and interactions. It cannot be excluded from analysis of the Balfour declaration, its context, and consequences.
Visiting fellow, Kellogg College, Oxford