Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The origin of the internationally recognized rights of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel

The origin of the internationally recognized rights of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel
CILR wish to thank Mark Vandermaas, founder of Israel Truth Week, for launching and coordinating this event in a flawless way that has earned the unanimous appreciation and gratitude of all the participants. Our thanks go also to Ilana Shneider and Evgenia Rachevsky of the Canada-Israel Friendship Association for their outstanding organizational skills, and to the management and staff of the Lodzer Synagogue for graciously offering their facilities.
The current negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs are once again at a turning point. The prospects of a successful outcome of the “peace process” are slim, at best. Anticipating the stalemate of the ongoing round – the “Kerry Framework” – we believe that, more than ever, the legal rights of Israel must be stressed and the usual challenges to these rights must be rebutted.
We shall first briefly summarize the origin of the internationally recognized rights of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, with an introduction on the status of the Ottoman Empire on the eve of World War One. Then we shall look at three common claims aimed at denying the Jewish rights to the Land, and explain why these claims are baseless.
This Israel Truth Week event was dedicated to the late Attorney HOWARD GRIEF, z’l’,
in memory of his pioneering work on Israel’s Legal Rights.
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Salomon Benzimra, P. Eng. Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights – CILR
The map shows the full extent of the Ottoman Empire. Starting in 1300 in a small portion of western Anatolia, Turkish conquests expanded considerably in the next three centuries to finally include all the colored areas, the different colors reflecting successive periods of conquest.
At its apex, the Ottoman Empire spread from central Europe to south-western Arabia and from Algeria to the Persian Gulf. The Ottoman Turks were finally stopped in their advance at the gates of Vienna in 1683. During the 18th and 19th centuries, they gradually lost all their European and North African possessions.
In 1914, on the eve of World War One, the Ottoman Empire was reduced to the territories shown within the red line when it joined the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria) against the Allied Powers (mainly France and the British Empire but also Italy and Japan among others). The United States entered the war in Europe in 1917 but did not fight the Turks in the Middle East.
By the end of WWI in 1918, Turkey had lost all its possessions in the Middle East. The Ottoman Empire collapsed, together with the German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires, the latter through the Bolshevik revolution of 1917.
The Allied Powers were then responsible for the drafting of boundaries and the creation of new countries in Europe and the Middle East, among which Palestine.
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Salomon Benzimra, P. Eng. Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights – CILR
Before the end of WWI, and twenty years after Theodore Herzl launched the Zionist movement, the British Government issued the Balfour Declaration (Nov. 1917) in favor of establishing a Jewish National Home in Palestine. It was an expression of British foreign policy but it was also welcomed by various other governments. Two months later, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson presented his Fourteen Points in Congress (Jan. 1918), where he advocated the creation of an “Assembly of Nations” and the right of peoples to “self-determination” in order to promote world peace.
After WWI, the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers (Britain, France, Italy, Japan and the U.S.) convoked the Paris Peace Conference (Jan. 1919). The League of Nations was created, governed by a Covenant which instituted the Mandates System for the benefit of peoples aspiring to sovereignty, thus fulfilling President Wilson’s wishes. The Covenant of the League of Nations was included in Part I of the Treaty of Versailles which, together with other treaties, determined the fate of post-war Europe under international law. In Paris, both the Zionists and the Arabs presented their territorial claims.
The final disposition of Turkish territories in the Middle East took place in San Remo, Italy, in April 1920, under the authority of the same Supreme Council (the U.S. acting as an observer). The San Remo Resolution combined Article 22 of the Covenant to the Balfour Declaration, thus making the latter a binding act of international law with regard to the Jewish National Home in Palestine under a British Mandate. The San Remo Resolution also allocated Syria (later split into Syria and Lebanon) and Mesopotamia (Iraq) to French and British mandates, respectively. Two years later, the Mandate for Palestine was confirmed by the Council of the League (July 1922) and approved by its 52 members.
The detractors of Israel question the validity of the acquired rights of the Jewish people in what was then “Palestine,” based on flimsy arguments, as explained below.
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Salomon Benzimra, P. Eng. Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights – CILR
The anti-Israel front never misses a beat in their boundless efforts to dismiss, deny or violently oppose each and every aspect of the Jewish people’s national rights to their land. The three examples listed above are just a sample of their denigration campaign.
Item “A” is promoted in some academic circles. For example, here is an astonishing comment I received from a long, private exchange I had almost three years ago with a prominent American professor, active in anti-Israel propaganda: “As for the [Supreme Council of the Allied Powers], they were part of the extremist Christian fundamentalist tradition in the English-speaking world. They were relying on the Bible, which they took to be the word of God. And since the War God... said that Jews must go back to Palestine, they were active Christian Zionists. But that’s no more significant than the beliefs of Iranian clerics.” The best way to characterize this comment is – to borrow James Madison’s phrase – to call it “a monument of deficient wisdom.”
Item “B” is a concocted exercise in semantics, which cannot stand scrutiny, but is still peddled by those who support the territorial truncation and, eventually, the dismantlement of Israel.
Item “C” originates from the ambiguity of a “Jewish National Home” and the various treacherous attempts by the British Government during the Mandate period to renege on their obligations, as suggested in the Passfield White Paper (concept of equal “dual obligation” to Arabs and Jews) and the MacDonald White Paper of 1939, which envisaged the creation of a “unitary Palestinian state.” Item “C” is actually a selective denial of reality, when viewed in conjunction with other Mandates.
These false claims are analyzed in the following three pages.
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Salomon Benzimra, P. Eng. Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights – CILR
At the beginning of World War One in 1914, the CENTRAL POWERS (Germany and Austria-Hungary, later joined by the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria) faced the ALLIED POWERS (France, Great Britain and Russia, later joined by Italy, Japan and the United States, together with other smaller “Associated Powers”).
The war ended in November 1918. The Supreme Council of the Allied Powers (France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and the United States) convened the Paris Peace Conference in January 1919. Within a year, and through various treaties signed in the vicinity of Paris, the Allied Powers remodeled the map of Europe, drafted new borders and created new states.
Hungary was separated from the collapsed Austro-Hungarian Empire as an independent country. The Czechs and Slovaks were united in the new Czechoslovakia. The Serbs, Croats and Slovenes formed a national union later called Yugoslavia. The Baltic States were separated from Russia and Poland re-appeared in the map of Europe.
These were momentous decisions made by the victors of the War – the Allied Powers – who also created the League of Nations (see page 3). The preamble of each of the European treaties mentioned in the Table above clearly shows the “Allied and Associated Powers” as the contracting party.
The same Allied Powers – without the United States – were equally entitled to and responsible for the rearrangement of the Turkish possessions in the Middle East, including “Palestine.” The absence of the U.S. in the decisions regarding the defunct Ottoman Empire is primarily due to the fact that America never declared war to Turkey.
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Salomon Benzimra, P. Eng. Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights – CILR
Two years after the adoption of the San Remo Resolution, the Mandate for Palestine was confirmed in July 1922 by the Council of the League of Nations. An integral copy of the original document – including a British memorandum addressed to the Council in September 1922 to finalize the legally debatable separation of Transjordan, which annulled the Jewish rights east of the Jordan River – is available on the Israel Truth Week webpage titled “The ORIGINAL two-state solution.”
In the second recital of the Preamble to the Mandate, the Principal Allied Powers “agreed that the Mandatory [Britain] be responsible for putting into effect [the Balfour Declaration] in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people...” (emphasis added).
One might argue that the Jewish national home so envisioned was intended to be established in some part of Palestine, rather than making the whole of Palestine the national home of the Jewish people. But this interpretation cannot stand scrutiny in view of the spirit and the letter of the Mandate charter. Indeed, there are 14 other instances of the phrase “in Palestine” which squarely demolish this interpretation, as the few examples below show (in addition to those mentioned in the Table above):
“...the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine...” (2nd recital); “the privileges and immunities of foreigners...shall not be applicable in Palestine’ (Art. 8); “the Mandatory shall see that there is no discrimination in Palestine...” (Art. 18); “Any statement or inscription in Arabic on stamps or money in Palestine shall be repeated in Hebrew...” (Art. 22), etc. All these clauses can only be interpreted as referring to all of Palestine.
There is no basis for limiting the territorial extent of the Jewish national home in Palestine.
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Salomon Benzimra, P. Eng. Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights – CILR
As mentioned on Page 3, in the San Remo Resolution the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers combined the Balfour Declaration (which favored the creation of a Jewish National Home in Palestine) with Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations (which instituted the Mandates System in international law), thus turning the Jewish National Home into a “sacred trust of civilization.” Article 22 envisaged three types of Mandates, depending on the economic and social development of the populations concerned:
 “Class A” mandates applied to communities which “have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized...” This category covered the Middle East Arab countries and Jewish Palestine, which is a sui generis Mandate because of its specific provisions. (See white boxes in the map above, including Israel in blue).
 “Class B” mandates address the lesser developed communities “especially in Central Africa” which would require a longer period of tutelage by the Mandatory. (See light grey boxes).
 “Class C” mandates relate to the least developed territories, “owing to the sparseness of their population, or their small size, or their remoteness from the centres of civilization” (Dark grey boxes).
Overall, 14 Mandates were issued on lands previously held by Germany and Turkey. In time – besides the State of Israel, reborn in 1948 – 13 independent countries were born, including “Class ‘C’” Namibia. Therefore, the “Class ‘A’” Mandate for Palestine guaranteed the birth of the Jewish State once the proper conditions were met. Besides, in the 1920s, world leaders understood that the “Jewish National Home” would eventually lead to a Jewish State, an outcome that could not be clearly spelled out in the Balfour Declaration, at a time when the Ottoman Turks had not yet been defeated.
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Salomon Benzimra, P. Eng. Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights – CILR
This Table summarizes the objections to the three false claims usually advanced by Israel’s opponents, as explained in the preceding pages.
There is no rational argument that could support those claims. As with much of the opposition to Israel and its Jewish character, the anti-Israel propaganda originates in the Palestinian narrative and is widely spread by “progressives” whose reach far exceeds their comprehension of the issues.
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Salomon Benzimra, P. Eng. Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights – CILR
The legal rights of modern Israel in international law originated in the San Remo Resolution (1920) where the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers enjoined Britain to put into effect the provisions of the Balfour Declaration (1917) in a binding trust agreement – Mandate for Palestine, 1922 – as per Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations (1919).
The acquired rights of the Jewish people in the land previously known as “Palestine” are irrevocable. They have been recognized in the Anglo-American Convention (1924), in Article 80 of the UN Charter (1945), and in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969), even though the Mandate expired in 1948 when the State of Israel was proclaimed.
However, the opponents of Israel continue to advance the following three claims which are baseless and can be easily debunked:
1.  The Supreme Council of the Allied Powers had no authority to create a “Jewish National Home” in the Middle East after World War One. (?)
 The Allied Powers had the power of disposition over territories previously controlled by the defeated empires in WWI (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Ottoman Turkey).
 They saw fit to create new sovereign states in Europe (Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, etc.) to give a voice to the national aspirations of peoples.
 Why, then, this selective opposition to the “Jewish people” in their ancestral land?
2.  The “Jewish National Home” was supposed to be established “in Palestine” but not “in all of Palestine.” (?)
 The Preamble to the Mandate calls for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
 The spirit and the letter of the Mandate leave no doubt as to the entirety of Palestine, as reflected in the 14 other instances of the phrase “in Palestine”: For example, “the judicial system in Palestine” (Art. 9); “the Holy Places in Palestine” (art. 13); “the different religious communities in Palestine,” (Art. 14), etc. Moreover, Article 5 of the Mandate also stresses the indivisibility of Palestine.
3.  The “Jewish National Home” was never intended to become a “Jewish State.” (?)
 The Mandate for Palestine was one of 14 Mandates issued by the Allied Powers on behalf of the League of Nations.
 These Mandates led to creation of 14 independent states (including Israel) from the 1930s to the 1990s, even in territories considered the least developed socially and economically (ex.: Namibia, Samoa and Papua New Guinea).
 Again, why the selective opposition to the creation of the independent Jewish State of Israel?
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Salomon Benzimra, P. Eng. Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights – CILR
Lord Balfour, British Foreign Secretary during World War One, was a staunch pro-Zionist Christian.
His support for the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine was also driven by several political considerations. He feared that the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, with whom Britain was at war at the time, would issue a similar declaration to entice Jews in Allied countries. Also, Balfour’s idea was to rally American and Russian Jews to influence their governments in the Allied war effort.
The Balfour Declaration, issued in November 1917, received support from U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, French Prime Minister George Clemenceau, and even Arab leader Faisal ibn-Hussein. Ironically, some of the most virulent opponents to the Balfour Declaration were among British Jews, led by Sir Edwin Montagu.
The Balfour Declaration consists of one sentence in two propositions: The first ensures exclusive national rights to the Jewish people as a whole; the second guarantees individual civil and religious rights to the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, and protects the existing rights of Jews living in any other country (to avoid possible discriminatory measures against Jewish communities in Europe and elsewhere). The key element is that only Jews were entitled to national rights in Palestine.
 Return to “Israel’s Legal Rights in International Law”
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Salomon Benzimra, P. Eng. Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights – CILR
The importance of the San Remo Conference and its resulting Resolution cannot be overstated.
For the first time in history, Palestine became a legal entity in 1920, notwithstanding the wishful thinking of the Arabs who now call themselves “Palestinians.” The Jewish people became the national beneficiary (self-determination) of the trust awarded to the British under the Mandate, a “sacred trust of civilization” according to Article 22 of the Covenant of the League. Sovereignty in Palestine (de jure) was vested in the Jewish people but was kept in abeyance for the duration of the Mandate. The acquired legal title in Palestine by the Jewish people cannot be revoked by the League or its successor, the United Nations. These rights are implicitly protected by Article 80 of the UN Charter and Article 70(1-b) of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. They have also been reaffirmed in the Levy Report, which is still pending adoption since July 2012 (*).
San Remo also marks the end of the longest colonization period in history. After 1,850 years of Jewish exile from Palestine since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE – and a concurrent succession of foreign occupiers including Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Mamluks and, finally, the Ottoman Turks – the Jewish nation was reconstituted in San Remo (not “created”) on the basis of its historical connection, and the Jewish State was proclaimed 28 years later, in May 1948.
To mark the 90th anniversary of the San Remo Conference, a two-day commemoration was jointly organized by the European Coalition for Israel (ECI), a Christian group based in Brussels, and Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights (CILR) of Toronto. After a series of lectures, the celebration of the event was held at the site where the San Remo Conference took place, as shown in the pictures above.
 Return to “Israel’s Legal Rights in International Law”
*For details on Israel’s Legal Rights, please refer to: The Jewish People’s Rights to the Land of Israel

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