BY SHMUEL KATZ
US Ambassador Richard Jones was recently reported to have asked Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch about the legal status of the "settlements."
This is indeed a subject which has long been neglected - or simply ignored. The answer to the question is a simple one, but in view of the obfuscation which has for years gathered around it, it is essential to examine its roots.
THEY LIE COMFORTABLY IN THE TEXT OF THE MANDATE FOR
The Mandate's objective was to facilitate the "reconstitution" of the Jewish National Home in
The vision of the Balfour Declaration was encapsulated a couple of years later by cabinet minister Winston Churchill, who wrote that "a Jewish state will arise in our day on the banks of the
At that time, too, the League of Nations conferred on
Thus did the Allied nations complete the sharing out of the territories they had captured from the Turks in the Great War of 1914-1918.
ADDED UP, these Arab states-to-be accounted for some 99 percent of the total conquered area.
In its capture during the war it may be said the Arabs themselves played practically no part. The so-called Arab Revolt against the Turks, heavily financed by
The Jewish people not only fielded a Jewish fighting legion in
Nevertheless, when peace came Arab voices were raised against the British undertaking to the Jews. Balfour admonished them. He pointed out that it was the British who had established an independent sovereignty in Hejaz (the Mandates came two years later), and he added: "I hope they will remember that it is we who desire in Mesopotamia to prepare the way for the future of a self-governing Arab state and I hope that, understanding all that, they will not grudge that small notch being given to the people who for all these hundreds of years have been separated from it."
Yet - in 1922 at the last moment, the British inserted a clause (Number 25) excluding the
provision of the Jewish National Home from the area east of the
Zionist protest went unheeded; and so the almost-empty eastern
THE FACT THAT IT WAS A
Thus was executed the first partition of the
There would be no Jewish National Home. There would be an Arab majority, and some form of British overlordship to protect Jewish minority interests.
The White Paper, fiercely attacked in Parliament, was passed - by a reduced majority.
But any change in British policy in Mandatory Palestine was subject to the approval of the
WHEN IN 1939 THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT SUBMITTED THE WHITE PAPER TO THE COMMISSION, IT REFUSED ITS APPROVAL ON THE GROUNDS THAT IT DID NOT CONFORM TO THE TERMS OF THE MANDATE.
Angry British Foreign Office senior officials exchanged notes and discussed among themselves the desperate policy of proposing a change in the Mandate itself. But they were stymied. It was too late - nearly the end of August 1939, and on the first of September World War II broke out. The Council of the
The Mandate remained the defining document for governing
THE BRITISH government, frustrated, did not relent.
It launched a bitter campaign, using diplomatic channels in Europe to prevent Jews escaping and employing the Royal Navy to intercept boats carrying Jewish refugees from
Indeed, when Churchill was prime minister he wrote in an internal instruction that "the White Paper stands."
The Mandate, however, with its injunction to assist Jewish settlement, remained intact and after World War II was "inherited" by the United Nations.
It was a period of considerable unrest which, despite much repressive effort, the British could not subdue.
Under the pressure of a highly effective Jewish underground fighting force (and consequent reactive political pressure at home) the Labor government finally returned the Mandate to the UN (in the spring of 1947).
The UN, in a dramatic special session, in effect accepted
(NOT PALESTINIANS. NOBODY HAD HEARD OF SUCH A SEPARATE ENTITY.)
The Arab states rejected that offer.
The Arab refusal was not a whim. The idea of a non-Arab state (and specifically a hated Jewish state) "in the heart of the Arab world" was anathema to them. It was reflected by a claim of possession of the whole country.
Immediately after the UN session, the League of Arab States decided to go to war to destroy the Jewish state at birth.
In the meantime a preliminary campaign of terror was launched against the Jewish community.
Then on May 14, 1948, the day the British left, five well-armed Arab states -
*IT IS NOT IRRELEVANT TO MENTION THAT IN THE NEXT 19 YEARS OF JORDANIAN AND
EGYPTIAN OCCUPATION, NEITHER
*TO THE CONTRARY, PALESTINIAN ARAB TERROR CONTINUED TO OPERATE AS BEFORE AGAINST
Then in 1967,
Soon after that victory,
AT A CONFERENCE IN
So once again Jewish settlement rights had been endangered, and once again had
been saved by Arab intransigence.
It was shortly afterward that the movement of Jewish settlers was launched. It is noteworthy that the last defining document that underwrites the legality was the Geneva Convention of 1949. It dealt with occupied territories. Its second clause, stating its scope, makes it clear that it does not apply to the Jewish presence in Judea and
From the point of view of international law these settlers are as legal as any resident of
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