Islamists like to censor all discussions of international law when it comes to the rights of the Jewish State of Israel. A document issued on April 25, 2011, by WAFA, the official press agency of the Palestinian Authority, claims that “[San Remo] is the root of all Palestinian catastrophes and sufferings,” and it bashes the San Remo Resolution as the work of “Zionist gangs.”
Well, let’s see about that.
Thanks to Salomon Benzimra, a Jewish hero, and Rachel Neuwirth for contributions to this article via UnitedWithIsrael and ThinkIsrael.
According to international law, Israel has full right to try to populate the entire Land of Israel with dense Jewish settlement, and thus actualize the principles set by the League of Nations in the original Mandate Charter of San Remo in 1920. The mandate’s introduction clearly identifies it as being “based on the international recognition of the historic ties between the Jewish People and the Land of Israel.”
The supporting data that constitute the founding documents of the Jewish Nation in Palestine includes:
- The Balfour Declaration (1917): The British government favored the creation of a “Jewish national home” in Palestine.
- The Covenant of the League of Nations (1919, with later amendments), as part of the Treaty of Versailles following WWI and the dismemberment of the Ottoman and other empires: Article 22 of the Covenant recognized the existence of “peoples not yet able to stand by themselves”, and established “the principle that the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilization.” It further states that “tutelage of such peoples should be entrusted to advanced nations — who are willing to accept it, and that this tutelage should be exercised by them as Mandatories on behalf of the League.”
- The San Remo Resolution (April 1920) included Palestine in the Mandatory system and incorporated the provisions of the Balfour Declaration, thus recognizing Palestine as a “Jewish national home” with the imprimatur of the international community. This was later spelled out in Article 95 of the Treaty of Sèvres (August 1920). Even though Turkey did not ratify the Treaty of Sèvres, Article 95 maintains its specific validity in international law.
- The Franco-British Boundary Convention (December 1920) established the northern boundaries between Palestine and Syria-Lebanon, thus officially rectifying the previous Sykes-Picot secret agreement of 1916.
- The Mandate for Palestine (July 1922) was officially conferred to Britain as the Mandatory Power. The preamble of this document declares that “recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” This Mandate, approved by 52 states, unambiguously assigns Palestine to the Jews and “encourage[s] … close settlement by Jews, on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes” (Article 6). In what could be seen as a violation of previous agreements, the British carved the exclusively Arab Emirate of Transjordan out of Palestine and inserted Article 25, thus “postpon[ing] or withhold[ing] application of such provisions of this mandate” as they applied to the Palestine portion located to the east of the Jordan River.
- The Anglo-American Convention (December 1924) further strengthened the international position with regard to Palestine, as established by the community of nations, and recognized Britain as the Mandatory Power. It can be argued that the American government later failed in its obligations to uphold the provisions of the Mandate by not opposing the several British White Papers issued in the 1930s which limited the immigration of Jews to Palestine, in violation of Britain’s Mandatory commitments.
- The United Nations Charter (1945): Article 80 is quite clear in maintaining the national rights acquired through a Mandate voted by the then defunct League of Nations. Thus, the national rights of the Jewish people to “Palestine” have not been abrogated to this day.
One mustn’t confuse International Law with UN Resolutions, which are just recommendations and are not binding.
The last legally binding document to be adopted regarding the areas of Israel in question remains the 1920 San Remo resolution, which deeds full sovereignty to the Jewish people.
This resolution, consisting of the Balfour Declaration and Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, is the basic document upon which the Mandate for Palestine was constructed. The San Remo Resolution concerning Palestine and the Jewish National Home was adopted at the San Remo Peace Conference on April 25, 1920 by the four Principal Allied Powers of World War I who were represented by the Prime Ministers of Britain (David Lloyd George), France (Alexandre Millerand) and Italy (Francesco Nitti) and by the Ambassador of Japan (K. Matsui).
The Resolution was a binding agreement between these Powers to reconstitute the ancient Jewish State within its historic borders “from Dan to Beersheba”, an agreement that was incorporated into the Treaty of Sevres and the Mandate for Palestine.
Salomon Benzimra says:
Ninety-four years ago, on April 25, 1920, the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers (Britain, France, Italy, Japan and the US as an observer) gathered in San Remo, Italy, and ruled on the disposition of the Middle East territories previously held by the defeated Ottoman Empire. They first listened to the claims of both the Zionist Organization [later renamed the World Zionist Organization], headed by Chaim Weizmann, and the Arab Delegation, headed by Emir Faisal, at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919.
The San Remo Conference was a momentous event in that it drafted the map of the Middle East as we know it today: Over 97% of the land was adjudicated to the Arabs, which resulted in the creation of the new, exclusively Arab states of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and, later, Jordan. The geographic region known as Palestine was designated as the Jewish National Home, to be reconstituted there in consideration of the historical connection of the Jewish people to the land.
National rights were exclusively granted to the Jewish people collectively, while the non-Jewish people of Palestine were granted individual civil and religious rights.
These were the terms used in the San Remo Resolution, which were later confirmed in the Mandate for Palestine (1922) and approved by the 52 members of the League of Nations in order to highlight the preexisting rights of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, hitherto known as Palestine since Roman times. These documents, and the ensuing Franco-British and Anglo-American treaties that were separately signed in the early 1920s, are based on the Mandates System stipulated in the Covenant of the League of Nations and are therefore binding to this day under international law.
The acquired rights of the Jewish people to the land west of the Jordan River are preserved in the UN Charter and in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, even though the Mandate for Palestine expired in 1948 when the State of Israel was proclaimed.
The usual detractors of Israel regularly ignore, dismiss or strongly reject the validity of the provisions listed above. But their arguments ring hollow.
They claim that the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers had no authority to create a new political entity in Palestine. They forget that in the wake of World War One, the same Supreme Council created new countries in Europe (Yugoslavia, Hungary, the Baltic States and a reborn Poland) on the ashes of the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires.
They also claim that a Jewish home in Palestine was not intended to include all of Palestine. Had they read the full text of the Mandate for Palestine, they would find 15 instances of the phrase “in Palestine” – which leaves no doubt as to the inclusion of the entire territory.
These same detractors claim that the purpose of the “Jewish National Home” mentioned in the Mandate was not meant to lead to a sovereign Jewish state. Here again, they are most selective in their singling out of Israel; not only were all the neighboring Arab states created through the same Mandates System, but Mandated territories in far less developed areas in Africa and elsewhere also became sovereign states in the second half of the 20th century. Cameroon, Togo, Benin, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Namibia, Papua New Guinea and Samoa are a few examples.
But among all Israel’s detractors, the Palestinian Authority has demonstrated a particular animosity towards San Remo. A document issued on April 25, 2011, by WAFA, the official press agency of the Palestinian Authority, claims that “[San Remo] is the root of all Palestinian catastrophes and sufferings,” and it bashes the San Remo Resolution as the work of “Zionist gangs.”
Now is the time to give precedence to factual evidence over biased opinion. On this 94th anniversary, we should remember that territorial claims on Palestine were finally settled at the San Remo Conference.