23 Dec The Faisal-Weizmann Agreement: The Original Arab-Jewish Peace Agreement
It seems hard to believe today, but just about 100 years ago, an agreement was signed between the president of the World Zionist Organization, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, and the head of the short-lived Hejaz Kingdom, (later to become part of what is today Saudi Arabia) Emir Faisal, to pave the way for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine.
The historic encounter between the two leaders took place in January 1919 in London. The two discussed cooperation between the Jewish and Arab national movements. After a few meetings they signed the “Faisal-Weizmann Agreement” on January 3, 1919. But this document was never implemented.
The main points of this agreement included an Arab recognition of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 (expressing support of the British government for a Jewish homeland in Palestine) including Jewish immigration there, and an obligation of the Jews to assist in the development of an Arab state.
The agreement was presented to Faisal in English, which Faisal could not read and its contents were explained to him by T. E. Lawrence (the famous Lawrence of Arabia) as the sole translator. Faisal signed the document in the same meeting, without consulting his advisors awaiting him in a separate room. However, Faisal added a caveat in Arabic next to his signature that the agreement was conditional on an an Arab independent state being included within Palestine. The Zionist Organization submitted the agreement to the Paris Peace Conference that month without the caveat. The Paris Peace Conference (also known as the Versailles Conference) was the meeting of the victorious Allied Powers following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers.
The Faisal-Weizmann document has been described as “of propaganda value only” since it quickly became clear that Faisal’s conditions would not be met by the British and French, who ruled the Middle East areas conquered from the Ottoman Turks in World War I.
Thus it is that a 100-year-old (almost) agreement between the Arabs and the Jews for peaceful coexistence in the Holy Land has become a forgotten footnote to history….and the struggle goes on until today.