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Britain and France in Mandatory Palestine and Lebanon: Power, Division, and the Nation

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Caitlyn D.
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  1. Introduction
  2. Review
  3. Conclusion

Most scholars of the Middle East agree that many conflicts present in the Middle East today can be attributed to the borders drawn by Western powers during the crucial Mandate period beginning in 1919 and continuing through the outbreak of World War I. The cases of Palestine/Israel and Lebanon provide especially salient examples of how unresolved policy issues dating back to the mandate period can continue to create devastating scenes of strife and national division in modern times. Throughout the course of this paper Britain and France's policies with regard to the mandates, assessing policy choices in the context of post-World War I Europe and using the results of those policies to critique choices on the part of the imperial powers will be discussed. It will be argued that policy decisions were taken with the goal of maintaining a lasting imperial presence in the region, and the ramifications of these decisions led to lasting conflicts within the mandates of Palestine and Lebanon. In the case of Lebanon, the French employed a divide-and-rule strategy in order to perpetuate sectarian divisions and create a situation where imperial presence would be deemed necessary to maintain stability. In the case of Palestine, Britain chose to support Jewish self-determination as a means to advance British interest in greater presence in the region, and the problem of adequately addressing Arab discontent only became part of that program when it threatened the Zionistpolitical position and the incompatibility of promises given to both groups began to manifest itself.

[...] Britain and France in Mandatory Palestine and Lebanon: Power, Division, and the Nation Most scholars of the Middle East agree that many conflicts present in the Middle East today can be attributed to the borders drawn by Western powers during the crucial Mandate period beginning in 1919 and continuing through the outbreak of World War I. The cases of Palestine/Israel and Lebanon provide especially salient examples of how unresolved policy issues dating back to the mandate period can continue to create devastating scenes of strife and national division in modern times. [...]


[...] The cycle of unrest continued as British influence in the mandatory government grew and Arab access was still inadequate. Alongside the setbacks with regard to setting up a council of Arabs to advise the high commissioner, it was very clear that Arab power within the mandatory government structure was purposefully kept at a minimum through the 1920s and 30s. According to Smith, though Arabs formed a majority of the population, this was not reflected in the number of Palestinians that eventually held government positions. [...]

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