A People's Historical Journey to Self Determination & Decolonization

The Ay Ay Islands, (f.k.a.) The Danish West Indies, (n.k.a.) Virgin Islands of the United States

Balfour Declaration

Compiled by Henrik Palmgren |

Arthur James Balfour

Foreign Office
November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours sincerely,
Arthur James Balfour


Statement issued by the British government in 1917, which is often seen upon as the initiation of the process that led to the establishment of the State of Israel. Issuing of the statement is believed to have been motivated just as much by British interests, as by the sympathy for the Zionist cause. At the eve of the World War I Britain needed the support from the World Jewry, which had been neutral, and which represented a large part of the population of Germany and Austria-Hungary. The declaration was drafted with the help of US President, Woodrow Wilson, who was a strong supporter of Zionism.

Secondly, Britain saw the need to protect the sea route to India, which passed through the Suez Canal, upon which much of Britain's economy relied. In accordance with the spirit of the time which emphasized the "self-determination of small nations", supporting Zionism would be the easiest way of securing lasting British influence of the region east of the Canal, especially because the Levant had been Ottoman until 1917.


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