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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

Area controlled by Britain after World War I as a *mandated territory, covering the entire region now occupied by Israel and Jordan. The land lying to the east of the river Jordan, known then as *Transjordan, was administered as a separate part of Palestine. The *Balfour Declaration, which it was Britain's responsibility to implement to the west of the Jordan, proposed a homeland for the Jews which would not prejudice the interests of the Palestinians. These two ideals proved irreconcilable. After much unrest and terrorism Britain in 1947 handed the problem over to the United Nations, which produced an unworkable proposal turning the area into a patchwork of territories shared out between Jews and Palestinians; the only admirable part of the plan was that Jerusalem should be administered separately as an international city.

The Jews accepted the UN solution; the Palestinian Arabs, a majority then within Palestine, rejected it; but the British insisted on the mandate ending on 15 May 1948. In the months leading up to the British withdrawal there was sporadic civil war between the communities, in which the Jews gained control over parts of the territories earmarked for the Arabs. On May 14 Israel declared itself an independent state, and on May 15 a joint Arab army of forces from Jordan (still known then as Transjordan), Syria, Iraq and Egypt crossed the river Jordan into the west bank area, the major part of the territory allotted by the UN to the Palestinians.

Their intention was both to support the Palestinians and to prevent the emergence of the state of Israel. By the end of the resulting war roughly half the west bank was in Israeli hands and half in Jordanian. The Jordanian part was captured by Israel in the war of 1967. The west bank remains the major element in any initiative in the 1990s of bargaining 'land for peace'.

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