General Allenby's entrance into JerusalemLibrary of Congress

As we’re making sense of the consequences of President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the city is remembering an important anniversary. A century ago this week, a British general entered the city, setting in motion events that still shape today’s conflict. In this issue of the Masthead, Abdallah Fayyad recalls that history.

Jerusalem’s History as a Political Football

One hundred years before President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George proclaimed that the city would be a “Christmas gift for the British people.” Using Jerusalem as a means to impress the public, the prime minister insisted that a symbolic victory in Palestine would bolster morale as they fought battles on the Western Front. And in June of 1917, with his sights set on defeating the Ottoman Empire, Lloyd George appointed General Edmund Allenby as the high commissioner of Egypt and gave him one of the most consequential orders in modern Middle East history: to capture Jerusalem by Christmas.

To access this story, become a member

Sign up for our brand-new membership program, The Masthead, and you’ll not only receive exclusive content you can’t find anywhere else—you’ll also help fund a sustainable future for journalism.

Find Out More

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to