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Faisal-Weizmann Agreement

From Academic Kids

The Faisal-Weizmann Agreement was signed on January 3, 1919, by Emir Faisal (son of the King of Hejaz) and Chaim Weizmann (later President of the World Zionist Organization) as part of the Paris Peace Conference, 1919 settling disputes stemming from World War I. It was a short-lived agreement for Arab-Jewish cooperation on the development of a Jewish homeland in Palestine and an Arab nation in a large part of the Middle East.

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Weizmann_and_feisal_1918.jpg
1918. Emir Feisal I and Chaim Weizmann (left, also wearing Arab outfit as a sign of friendship)

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Weizmann first met Faisal in June 1918, during the British advance from the South against the Ottoman Empire in World War I. As leader of an impromptu "Zionist Commission", Weizmann traveled to southern Transjordan for the meeting. The intended purpose was to forge an agreement between Faisal and the Zionist movement to support Jewish settlement in Palestine. The wishes of the Palestinian Arabs were to be ignored, and, indeed, both men seem to have held the Palestinian Arabs in considerable disdain. Weizmann had called them "treacherous", "arrogant", "uneducated", and "greedy" and had complained to the British that the system in Palestine did "not take into account the fact that there is a fundamental qualitative difference between Jew and Arab". After his meeting with Faisal, Weizmann reported that Faisal was "contemptuous of the Palestinian Arabs whom he doesn't even regard as Arabs".

In preparation for the meeting, the British had written to Faisal that "we know that the Arabs despise, condemn and hate the Jews", but that the Jewish race is "universal, all-powerful and cannot be put down". Under such circumstances, the secret British communication contended, Faisal was well advised to cultivate the Zionist movement as a powerful ally rather than to oppose it. In the event, Weizmann and Faisal established an informal agreement under which Faisal would support dense Jewish settlement in Palestine while the Zionist movement would assist in the development of the vast Arab nation that Faisal hoped to establish.

Weizmann and Faisal met again later in 1918 in London and soon afterwards at the Paris peace conference. On January 3, 1919, they signed the written agreement which is known by their names, see Paris Peace Conference, 1919.

The agreement committed both parties to conducting all relations between the groups by the most cordial goodwill and understanding, to work together to encourage immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale while protecting the rights of the Arab peasants and tenant farmers, and to safeguard the free practice of religious observances. The Muslim Holy Places were to be under Muslim control.

The Zionist movement undertook to assist the Arab residents of Palestine and the future Arab state to develop their natural resources and establish a growing economy.

The Arabs accepted the Balfour Declaration of 1917 calling for a Jewish national homeland in Palestine.

Disputes were to be submitted to the British Government for arbitration.

Faisal conditioned his acceptance on the fulfillment of British wartime promises to the Arabs, who had hoped for independence in a vast part of the Ottoman Empire.

The Faisal-Weizmann agreement survived only a few months, but it had a profound efect on the history of the conflict as it was a historic document of reconciliation between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East. The outcome of the peace conference itself did not provide the vast Arab state that Faisal desired mainly because the British and French had struck there own secret Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 dividing the Middle East between their own spheres of influence, and soon Faisal began to express doubts about cooperation with the Zionist movement. Within a year he was calling on Britain to grant the Arabs of Palestine their political rights as part of his Syrian Kingdom.

Arab-Israeli peace diplomacy and treaties

External links

  • Text (http://amislam.com/feisal.htm) of the agreement and accompanying letters
  • Text of the agreement (http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/History/faisaltext.html)
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