This Week in History presents Churchill supports Zionists; Israel and Jordan Sign Armistice Agreement.
March 29, 1949: Churchill voices support for Zionists
In a meeting with Zionist leaders in New York, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill offers assurances that his commitment to the Jewish state solid.
The 25-year mandatory rule of Great Britain over Palestine, which lasted from 1923 to 1948, is not generally remembered positively by those who were instrumental in the establishment of the State of Israel. The period, especially the latter part, was marked by severe limitations to Jewish immigration (including the turning back of refugee ships from Nazi-occupied Europe, resulting in the deaths of thousands), restrictions to Jewish possession of weapons, oppressive curfews, etc.
During that period, Great Britain had five different leaders. Winston Churchill served as Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1940-1945, an especially volatile period for the soon-to-be-established State of Israel and Great Britain.
Despite the fact that Churchill served at this time, he is fondly remembered as one of the greatest supporters of the Jewish people and the establishment of a Jewish national home in “Palestine.” He was a key actor in the creation of the Balfour Declaration, a document that outlined England’s support for the Jewish homeland.
Later, serving as Leader of the Opposition to the Labor government, Churchill met with Zionist leaders in March of 1949 to reassure them that his support for the fledgling State of Israel continues.
In recognition of his contributions towards the establishment of the State of Israel and continued support until his death, a memorial for Churchill was established in Jerusalem in 2012. The memorial consists of a giant bust of the legendary British statesman, made from the same cast as the Churchill memorials in Washington, D.C. and New York.
April 3, 1949: Israel and Jordan sign an armistice agreement
Following Israel’s Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948, the ongoing fighting escalated into full-blown war as armies from the surrounding Arab states launched an attack on the fledgling State of Israel.
Although Jordan had previously agreed not to attack, it invaded Israel together with Egypt, Syria and Iraq.
At the end of Israel’s War of Independence, which lasted 10 months, Israel signed armistice agreements with Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The agreement with Jordan established demarcation lines between Israeli and Jordanian forces in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria. This demarcation line, never intended to be a border, became known as the “Green Line.”