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Title: British imperial strategy, King Abdullah and the Jewish agency
Author: Bradshaw, John Tancred Landon.
Awarding Body: School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London)
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2004
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This thesis employs newly declassified material in order to examine relations between the British government, King Abdullah and the Jewish Agency between 1921-1951. It starts by placing this relationship within the context of British Imperial strategy in the Middle East. It describes this relationship during the period when the British became the hegemonic power in the Middle East after World War I, and then the period of decolonisation after 1945. The underlying premise of this thesis is that the British were motivated by a combination of diplomatic and strategic considerations in Palestine and Transjordan. This study employs the conceptual framework of imperial historians. It shows that the British relied on a combination of 'formal' and 'informal' techniques in Transjordan. This study advances the historical debate by exemplifying the limited effect of these methods on a ruler who was determined to pursue his own interests and not those of the British. This thesis provides a positive reassessment of Abdullah's relations with the British. It takes advantage of untapped sources in order to challenge the argument that the British 'colluded' with Abdullah to occupy the West Bank in 1948 This thesis focuses on relations between Abdullah and the Jewish Agency. It is based on the assumption that this relationship was only one aspect of Abdullah's unrealised dynastic plan that sought to create a Hashemite monarchy over 'Greater Syria'. In this context Abdullah envisaged a rump Jewish entity with a certain degree of autonomy, but not sovereignty, within this Kingdom. Although Abdullah's ideas varied over the years, he consistently stuck to this idea. This study argues that the likelihood of a long-term political agreement between the two sides was quite unlikely because it was contrary to the Zionist objective of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine. As far as the Jewish Agency is concerned, it is hard to define a coherent policy on relations with the neighbouring Arab states, and Transjordan in particular, using the extant documentation. This thesis argues that there was no collusion between Abdullah and the Jewish Agency to carve up Palestine at the expense of the Palestinians. Hence it is possible to conclude that this relationship was not nearly as significant as is often assumed. Ultimately, the two most important periods in this study are between 1936-1939 and 1945-1951. In order to understand these complex events it is crucial to take into consideration wider issues, especially the amorphous process of decolonisation. It is possible to argue that the British withdrawal from Palestine was a result of a combination of circumstances. Even after the British departure from Palestine in 1948, they still retained a diminished but important role in relations between Abdullah and the Israelis until the murder of Abdullah in July 1951. This was manifested in the contentious supply of arms to Transjordan, and the application of the 1948 Anglo-Transjordan Treaty. This thesis contends that the Treaty deterred the Israelis from invading the West Bank in 1948, and contributed to the acrimonious nature of Anglo-Israeli relations in the years immediately after 1948.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available