WHEN the representatives of a war-weary world met at Paris in 1919 the problem of Palestine seemed one of the simplest of the many that confronted them. Turkey made no claim for the retention of her sovereignty. The system of Mandates was established with general approval, and Palestine was obviously a case for its application. As to the choice of a Power as Mandatory, there was only one candidate. Great Britain was willing to accept the duty; her strategic interests would have made the establishment of any other Power in that territory unwelcome to her; it had been the British armies which, after a brilliant campaign, had conquered the country, and were still in occupation. There had been a tentative suggestion in some quarters that the United States might undertake the task; but her traditional policy of avoiding foreign entanglements had ruled this out from the beginning. France and Italy, the only other possible candidates, offered no competition. All agreed to honor the pledge to the Jews of the world which in November 1917 had been given by the British Government, under the signature of Lord Balfour, the Foreign Secretary, favoring the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish National Home.
The Arab peoples were represented at the Conference by a Delegation under the leadership of the Emir Feisal, one of the sons of the King of the Hejaz. Feisal had been the leader of the Arab Revolt during the war and was destined to become the first King of an independent 'Iraq. Although most of its members were against Zionism, the Arab Delegation itself made no official protest either against the conferment of a Mandate for Palestine on Great Britain, or against the Balfour Declaration. On the contrary, the Emir Feisal publicly referred to Dr. Weizmann, the leader of the Zionists, and himself as being "in perfect accord" and engaged in a "common cause." Into the tangle of knotty problems which harassed the Paris Peace Conference for so many arduous months, the question