Concept

White Paper of 1939

Summary
The White Paper of 1939 was a policy paper issued by the British government, led by Neville Chamberlain, in response to the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine. After its formal approval in the House of Commons on 23 May 1939, it acted as the governing policy for Mandatory Palestine from 1939 to the 1948 British departure. After the war, the Mandate was referred to the United Nations. The policy, first drafted in March 1939, was prepared by the British government unilaterally as a result of the failure of the Arab-Zionist London Conference. The paper called for the establishment of a Jewish national home in an independent Palestinian state within 10 years, rejecting the Peel Commission's idea of partitioning Palestine. It also limited Jewish immigration to 75,000 for five years and ruled that further immigration would then be determined by the Arab majority (section II). Jews were restricted from buying Arab land in all but 5% of the Mandate (section III). The proposal did not meet the political demands proposed by Arab representatives during the London Conference and was officially rejected by the representatives of Palestine Arab parties, who were acting under the influence of Haj Amin Effendi al-Husseini, but the more moderate Arab opinion that was represented by the National Defence Party was prepared to accept the White Paper. Zionist groups in Palestine immediately rejected the White Paper and led a campaign of attacks on government property that lasted for several months. On 18 May, a Jewish general strike was called. Regulations on land transfers and clauses restricting immigration were implemented, but at the end of the five years in 1944, only 51,000 of the 75,000 immigration certificates provided for had been used. In light of this, the British offered to allow immigration to continue beyond the cutoff date of 1944, at a rate of 1,500 per month, until the remaining quota was filled. From December 1945 to the 1948 end of the Mandate, 1,500 additional certificates for Jewish immigrants were allocated each month.
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