The foundation of the State of Israel, 1948 – Fact sheet 158
The British mandated territory of Palestine, 1922–47
Britain was entrusted with a League of Nations mandate over Palestine in 1922. This provided an interim resolution to the power vacuum in post World War I Palestine caused by the 1917 defeat of the Turks by British forces and the subsequent collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The British task was to facilitate the partitioning of Palestine to establish a Jewish national home that did not prejudice the civil and religious rights of the Arab majority. Jewish and Arab communities were granted the right to run their internal affairs, but this was not without tensions and outbreaks of violence, which did occur during the 1920s and 1930s.
In April 1947, after failing to reconcile the conflicting demands of both the Jewish and Arab communities, Britain indicated an intention to withdraw from Palestine and requested that a permanent solution be discussed by the United Nations General Assembly. Subsequently, a United Nations Special Committee was established to draft proposals for the future of Palestine.
Under the chairmanship of the Dr HV Evatt, the Australian Minister for External Affairs, the UN Special Committee recommended the establishment of an independent Jewish State in Palestine, together with a neighbouring independent Arab State, and this was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in November 1947.
The State of Israel was subsequently proclaimed in Tel Aviv on 14 May 1948.
Records relating to the foundation of Israel
Information held by the National Archives relating to the foundation of the State of Israel is contained in the records of the then Department of External Affairs, and key overseas missions such as the Australian High Commission in London, and the Australian Mission to the United Nations. Examples of these records are listed in the table below.