The Faisal-Weizmann agreement of 1919

On January 3rd, 1919, perhaps one of the most priceless of agreements was signed between Zionist leader Dr.Chaim Weizmann and the son of  Sharif and Emir of the holy city of Mecca, the Hashemite leader Faisal Ibn Hussein. The agreement, encouraged by the new British presence in the region, discussed many aspects of Jewish-Arab collaboration and could be viewed as one of the earliest official Arab-signed documents that supported Jewish migration into the land of Israel. 

The very first paragraph of the agreement reads: “His Royal Highness the Amir Faisal, representing and acting on behalf of the Arab Kingdom of Hejaz, and Dr. Chaim Weizmann, representing and acting on behalf of the Zionist Organisation, mindful of the racial kinship and ancient bonds existing between the Arabs and the Jewish people, and realizing that the surest means of working out the consummation of their national aspirations, is through the closest possible, collaboration in the development of the Arab State and Palestine, and being desirous further of confirming the good understanding which exists between them, have agreed upon the following Articles…”

What is extremely noticeable in the first paragraph, is the separation between “Palestine” and the Arab state. Before the PLO existed, the term Palestine was anything but exclusive to Arab or Muslim nationalistic terminology. In this document, the use of Palestine refers generally to the Zionist ambitions of sovereignty in the British Mandate for Palestine. Ultimately, the Hashemites were kicked out of Hejaz which is located in Western Saudi Arabia and the British gave them most of Mandatory Palestine to create Jordan.

The document has a few interesting articles that would likely not even be signed by modern Israel’s closest Arab allies. The first example is “All necessary measures shall be taken to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land through closer settlement and intensive cultivation of the soil.  In taking such measures the Arab peasant and tenant farmers shall be protected in their rights, and shall be assisted in forwarding their economic development.”

Another interesting article signed by the Arab royal and Dr. Weizmann regards the safekeeping of Muslim holy sites. The document excludes the Jerusalem Al-Aqsa mosque in its wording. “The Mohammedan Holy Places [ traditionally Mecca and Medina] shall be under Mohammedan control.” 

“Immediately following the completion of the deliberations of the Peace Conference, the definite boundaries between the Arab State and Palestine shall be determined by a Commission to be agreed upon by the parties hereto”, reads another article that further establishes the meaning of Palestine as a hypothetical Jewish state. 

Ultimately, the Faisal-Weizmann agreement which is still technically in effect would be largely buried by Arab states decades later with Israel’s independence.

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