Israeli Declaration of Independence

David Ben-Gurion, who became Israel's first prime minister shortly after, declares independence beneath a picture of Theodor Herzl
David Ben-Gurion, who became Israel's first prime minister shortly after, declares independence beneath a picture of Theodor Herzl

Historical Context

The territory that came under Israeli control with their declaration of independence on May 14, 1948, had been controlled by the British since the end of World War I as part of the League of Nations' Mandate for Palestine. In 1917, the British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour had issued the Balfour Declaration, which stated that the British government's official position was in support of Zionism, the movement to establish a Jewish homeland.

In 1937 the Peel Commission in Britain suggested splitting the Mandate into an Arab state and a Jewish state, which was rejected, and helped cause a renewal of the revolt by the Arab population against British rule. After World War II, the United Nations recommended the Partition Plan, which divided the land into Jewish and Arab-controlled areas. The proposal was rejected by most of the Arab populace but accepted by most of the Jewish populace but nevertheless was passed by the UN General Assembly (with the opposition of the Arab states) on November 29, 1947. The plan was never completely implemeted as a civil war broke out between the Jews and Arabs almost immediately.

After the Jewish forces largely won the war, David Ben-Gurion led the declaration of independence on May 14, 1948. The next day, Israel was invaded by the Arab League. After 10 months of fighting, Israel had defeated the Arab states, who occupied most of the Arab-controlled areas. Under the armistice agreements of 1949, Israel kept the areas given to it under the Partition Plan and roughly 60% of the areas initially given to the Palestinians.

The resulting conflict is one of the longest-running and most intractable in the world, with several major conflicts between Israel and the Arab states in 1967 and 1973, controversial Israeli occupations of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and recurrent conflicts between the two parties and various armed groups.

Photo Info


Photographer: Rudi Weissenstein
Date taken: May 14, 1948
Location taken: Tel Aviv, Israel

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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  • 1948-05-14 Israel declares independence from British administration

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