The Balfour Declaration: Britain’s unholy mess

When Allied forces captured Jerusalem 100 years ago this month, British leaders hailed a bright new dawn for the Holy Land. But, writes David Reynolds, by making conflicting promises of land to both Jews and Arabs, they created a diplomatic knot that has yet to be untangled

General Edmund Allenby walks into Jerusalem on 11 December 1917

This article was first published in the December 2017 edition of BBC History Magazine

Jerusalem, 11 December 1917. It was one of the most carefully choreographed moments of the First World War. The Holy City had fallen to soldiers of the British empire after four centuries of rule by the Ottoman Turks. At the end of a bleak year on the western front – with the third battle of Ypres bogged down in mud and blood – this whirlwind 40-day campaign in Palestine seized the imagination of Britain and the world.

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