The possibility of a Jewish homeland in Palestine had been a goal of Zionist organizations since the late 19th century. In 1917 British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour stated in a letter to British Jewish community leader Walter, Lord Rothschild that:
His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
Through this letter, which became known as the Balfour Declaration, British government policy officially endorsed Zionism. After World War I, the United Kingdom was given a mandate for Palestine, which it had conquered from the Ottomans during the war. In 1937 the Peel Commission suggested partitioning Mandate Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state, though the proposal was rejected as unworkable by the government and was at least partially to blame for the renewal of the 1936–39 Arab revolt.
Ben-Gurion stating, “We accepted the UN Resolution, but the Arabs did not. They are preparing to make war on us.”