Faisal–Weizmann Agreements

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FAISALWEIZMANN AGREEMENTS

Signed in London, 3 January 1919, between Amir Faisal I ibn Hussein ("representing and acting on behalf of the Arab Kingdom of Hedjaz") and Dr. Chaim Weizmann ("representing and acting on behalf of the Zionist Organisation").

The agreement between Faisal ibn Hussein and Chaim Weizmann was worked out with Colonel T. E. Lawrence, who acted as both midwife and translator in an arrangement whose immediate purpose was to harmonize the positions of all three parties before the Paris Peace Conference that followed World War I. Its preamble contained remarks about "the racial kinship and ancient bonds existing between the Arabs and the Jewish people," and called for "the closest possible collaboration" between the signatories as "the surest means of working out the consummation of their national aspirations." In its nine articles, the agreement spelled out methods and areas of cooperation between two mutually recognized entities: "the Arab State" and Palestine. The latter was to be governed in a way that would "afford the fullest guarantee for carrying into effect" Britain's Balfour Declaration. This meant the promotion of large-scale immigration and settlement of Jews and the protection of the rights of "the Arab peasant and tenant farmers," who would also be "assisted in forwarding their economic development." Separate articles assured the free exercise of religion and the keeping of "Mohammedan Holy Places . . . under Mohammedan control." The World Zionist Organization promised to "use its best efforts to assist the Arab State [i.e., the independent Greater Syria to which Faisal was aspiring] in providing the means for developing the natural resources and economic possibilities thereof." In an important proviso, Faisal linked his signature on this agreement to the complete fulfillment of Arab demands as submitted in a memorandum to the British Foreign Office.


The agreement, which remained secret for several years, quickly became inoperative, as neither signatory proved to be in a position to "deliver the goods" to the other. The authenticity of the agreement was challenged by some Arabs during the 1930s when Zionist leaders sought to gain propaganda advantage by publishing the text. Recent historical research has established that the document is genuine enough; thus, only Faisal's motives remain the subject of some debate.

See also Balfour Declaration (1917); Faisal I ibn Hussein; Greater Syria; Lawrence, T. E.; Weizmann, Chaim; World Zionist Organization (WZO).


Bibliography

Caplan, Neil. "Faisal ibn Husain and the Zionists: A Re-examination with Documents." International History Review 5, no. 4 (November 1983): 561614.

Caplan, Neil. Futile Diplomacy, Vol. 1: Early ArabZionist Negotiation Attempts, 19131931. London and Totowa, NJ: F. Cass, 1983.

Perlmann, M. "Chapters of ArabJewish Diplomacy, 19181922." Jewish Social Studies 6 (1944): 132147.

Tibawi, A. L. "T. E. Lawrence, Faisal and Weizmann: The 1919 Attempt to Secure an Arab Balfour Declaration." Royal Central Asian Journal 56 (1969): 156163.

neil caplan