Independence: Across the Jordan River in Palestine, violence and civil unrest between the Arab and Jewish populations had been escalating. Britain was overextended after World War II and unable to cope with the growing crisis. In fact, its eventual withdrawal from Palestine came on May 14, 1948. After the state of Israel was declared in the territory that had been designated the Jewish zone under a rejected United Nations-sponsored partition plan, armies from Transjordan, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia advanced into the territory of the former Palestine. Because the Arab Legion was the most competent fighting force among the Arabs, Transjordan at the end of the conflict in early 1949 found itself in possession of much of the West Bank of the Jordan River in addition to the eastern portion of Jerusalem, including the Old City and holy sites. Moreover, approximately 500,000 Palestinian Arabs took refuge in Transjordan or the West Bank.
With Abdullah now in control of both sides of the Jordan River, the official name of the country was changed in April 1949 to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, a name found in the 1946 constitution but hitherto not commonly used. A year later, Jordan formally annexed the West Bank, a move that only Britain and Pakistan recognized. On July 20, 1951, a Palestinian radical assassinated King Abdullah as he entered the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem for Friday prayers. Abdullah’s eldest son Talal succeeded to the throne, but because of a mental illness, he peacefully abdicated in favor of his son Hussein in August 1952. Hussein, who at the time was still a minor, would have to wait until May 1953 to formally become king.