For more than three hundred years before the First World War, Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire, and under Turkish control.
The vast majority of its population was Arab, with a small Jewish population scattered among four towns. In the 19th century, as far as the West was concerned, it was seen mainly as the Holy Land, the source of three major religions. The idea that the British government would one day turn it into a Jewish state was unthinkable to its Arab inhabitants.
“A land without people for people without a land.”