Sunday, December 14, 2008

"The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law"

By Howard Grief



 The Only Book That Clearly Explains Israel's Legal Right To Its Land, According To Modern International Law!


 The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law offers a comprehensive and systematic legal treatment of Jewish national and political rights to all of the Land of Is rael.  The author, Howard Grief, is the originator of the thesis that de jure sovereignty over the entire Land of Israel and Palestine was vested in the Jewish People as a result of the San Remo Resolution adopted at the San Remo Peace Conference on April 24, 1920.

 Hard Cover, 732 pages, USD-$49, GBP-29.95, NIS-199 (plus s/h)





This book is the culmination of 25 years of serious study and analysis of Israel’s legal foundation and rights to the Land of Israel under international law. My researches on this subject began=2 0in 1982 after I had met in New York with the late Dr. Paul Riebenfeld, a legal scholar on the subject of Transjordan, with whom I had subsequently, throughout the 1980s, many discussions on Israel’s legal rights and status in regard to Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Prior to my first meeting with Dr. Riebenfeld, I had followed intensely from my home city of Montreal the events unfolding in Israel ever since my teenage years when the Sinai War of 1956 was headline world news. Between 1956 and 1982, I had acquired a considerable store of knowledge of the politics, history and geography of Israel through voracious reading of newspapers and books and attending lectures, both at McGill University and in public forums. Some of the books I read that captured my interest on Israel were ones written by Leon Uris – “Exodus”, Richard Meinertzhagen – “Middle East Diary”, and Shmuel Katz – “Days of Fire”, all of which made an indelible impression on me. Another book, not surprisingly, was the Hebrew Bible, the root and backbone of Judaism and the Jewish People. The stories of the Bible always fascinated and inspired me, ever since my days as a schoolchild. In 1980, I was asked to become the representative in Canada of the newly-formed Tehiya party of Israel, a task I gladly accepted. I then proceeded to form a group to represent it in the Canadian Zionist Federation, which had the distinction of being the first official branch outside Israel.



As a practicing attorney in Montreal since 1966, it was natural for me, sooner or later, to interest myself in Israel’s legal foundation and in the rights of the Jewish People to Palestine and the Land of Israel. This became a matter that required great attention after the Six-Day War of June 1967, since Israel’s legal position in Judea, Samaria, Gaza, the Golan and Sinai were topics of daily debate and acrimony. Israel was constantly being assailed in the 1970s, as it still is today, for its “occupation” of Arab territories, the implication being that it had no right to the territories it had repossessed or liberated from enemy occupation in the Six-Day War. To my sorrow, no satisfying legal rebuttal was forthcoming to offset this false accusation, even by committed advocates of Israel’s cause. The best response offered was that either Israel had a better “claim” to these territories than did the surrounding Arab states, or that in any case everything would be eventually settled in future peace agreements and that in the meantime the status quo could continue. Not a single jurist ever voiced the opinion, with supporting evidence, that Israel, as the agent and assignee of the Jewish People, was the actual sovereign of Judea, Samaria and Gaza or that the Golan was really an historical part of the Land of Israel rather than of Syria=2 0illegally ceded to France in a 1922 agreement that took effect the following year or finally that the Jewish People’s long connection with Sinai dating back to the days of Moses, as confirmed in the Torah, gave Israel a right to retain Sinai, a territory which historically was never a part of Egypt except by virtue of conquest during various periods in history.


In addition, the true importance of the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917 as encapsulated in the San Remo Resolution of April 25, 1920 was not understood or realized. In fact, no single book contained an organized and systematic presentation of Israel’s legal rights to the entire Land of Israel, not just the area included in the State of Israel, but to all the land east and west of the Jordan, north and south of the Yarmuk, and, separately, to Sinai and the territory of what is today Southern Lebanon. The latter is geographically an extension of Upper Galilee, that historically was part of ancient Israel and therefore should have been included in the boundaries of Mandated Palestine, had it not been for French obstinacy and imperial designs. It was to rectify this glaring omission that I set myself the task of composing the present book. I devoted day and night to writing it from October 2001 to March 2003, and in the succeeding years made constant additions, revisions and updates to reach the point of publication. The book thus required seven years before it was ripe for publication.


I had for more than a decade prior to writing this book prepared the ground for it by composing a series of articles and papers on legal questions affecting the Land of Israel. Many of these articles appeared in the Hebrew bi-monthly publication of Nativ, where I stressed the San Remo Resolution as the principal founding document of the State of Israel. My thesis was that the Jewish People were recognized under international law as the de jure sovereign over Mandated Palestine ever since the adoption of the San Remo Resolution. This view contrasted sharply with that of other jurists who propagated the theory that there existed a “sovereignty vacuum” for Judea, Samaria and Gaza or that these regions had the legal status of unallocated (or unallotted) territories of the Mandate for Palestine. At the time this view was propounded, it appeared to many to favour Israel’s interest. However, it actually damaged Israel’s legal case, since not only did it ignore the importance of the San Remo Resolution, which had created Palestine for the exclusive national benefit of the Jewish People, but also opened the door to the local Arab inhabitants of the Land of Israel to claim ownership of the so-called “unallocated territories” for themselves and t hereby acquire national and political rights over them that they were never meant to have under the San Remo Resolution and the Mandate for Palestine. I came to the conclusion that since all of Palestine had already been allocated to the Jewish People at the San Remo Peace Conference that issued the San Remo Resolution, the Arabs therefore had no national rights whatever to any part of the territory of formerly mandated Palestine under international law, though they, together with the other inhabitants of the country, naturally enjoyed civil and religious rights. It was in the mid-1980s that I began to formulate my view that de jure sovereignty had already been vested in the Jewish People over all of the Land of Israel dating from the 1920 San Remo Resolution and then devolved upon the State of Israel upon its re-establishment. I then explained this view to Dr. Paul Riebenfeld of New York. He advised me that no one had previously expressed this position. I also mentioned my view in an article I wrote in 1989, published in The Jewish Press of Brooklyn, New York, on “the Question of Sovereignty and Final Status of Judea, Samaria and Gaza” (August 4, 1989, p.4). In that article I stated that at a meeting of the Supreme Council of the victorious Allied Powers at San Remo, Italy, on April 25, 1920 “Palestine was specifically set aside and given to the Jewish People for the establishment of a National Home… The establishment of a Jewish homeland meant eventual statehood20and hence the transfer to the Jewish People of sovereignty to all parts of the homeland including Judea, Samaria and Gaza”.


Over a year after I made aliya in August 1989, I was appointed by Professor Yuval Ne’eman, leader of the Tehiya party, then serving as Minster of Energy and Infrastructure in the Yitzhak Shamir Government, to be his legal adviser on Eretz-Israel. In January 1991, he asked me to prepare a paper for him on Israel’s legal foundation and rights to the country, since he was scheduled to deliver a speech in a month’s time on this subject at the Carnegie Foundation in the United States. I compiled a 93 page paper for this purpose. Professor Ne’eman not only accepted my thesis, he used what I wrote for him to very good advantage on his speaking tour before American audiences and followed this up with an article published in the journal Global Affairs (Fall 1992, Vol. VII, No. 4). In his article, he cited my work as the legal authority for his statement that “it is… at San Remo that the State of Israel draws its legal existence” and that “sovereignty over an area that would later be defined as the Palestine mandate was thereby bestowed on the Jewish People”.


The briefing paper I had authored for Professor Ne’eman became the impetus for the present book. However, I could not undertake this task immediately, because as a new oleh still new to the country, I had to seek employment in order to provide for my family. I was obliged to leave the Ministry of Energy when Tehiya lost its Knesset representation and Professor Ne’eman resigned his position as Minister even before the June 1992 elections and the Labour Party’s assumption of power. With the signing of several accords between Israel and “Palestine Liberation” Organization, I felt compelled to challenge the legality of these accords in the Israel Supreme Court, and for that purpose I filed a total of five petitions or applications on behalf of distinguished Israeli citizens. The Court, however, always refused to hear these petitions on their merits, because of what it determined to be the political nature of the agreements made with the PLO, as if the question of the legality of such agreements was outside the scope of its jurisdiction, thus giving the Government of Israel a blank cheque to do whatever it desired, regardless of several existing Israeli laws that prohibited the ceding of territory to any foreign state whatsover, and by natural deduction to any lesser entity, particularly to a criminal and terrorist organization.

Finally, in 2001, I started to compose the present book at the urging of my good friend, Mr. Yoel Lerner, an educator and linguist in Jerusalem, who recognized the importance of putting down in writing the legal knowledge I had gained over the years on the subject of Israel’s legal rights to the Land of Israel. It was a proverbial “labour of love” from beginning to end. To present Israel’s legal case I have relied on all the basic documents, agreements and acts formulated in the critical period between the years 1915-1925 that shaped the modern Middle East as it is today. As already indicated, the base document for the founding of Israel was the San Remo Resolution, as it was also for Syria and Iraq. I take pride in the fact that I have preached this point for the last two decades and that it has now become a widespread and accepted idea, directly attributable to myself as confirmed by Professor Yuval Ne’eman himself.


I sincerely hope that this book will be used in the future as a teaching and educational tool to inform those who know little of the depth and strength of Israel’s legal case for retaining in its possession the territories liberated in 1967 that still remain under its rule and even for the recovery – one day – of those territories already illegally given away. Arguments based on legal facts and evidence are needed to counter the enormous lies and mis-information put out by Israel’s detractors, both at home and abroad, who urge the State “to end its occupation” of territories that rightfully belong to Israel. Such facts and evidence are provided in this book. The State of Israel is entitled to rule all the lands encompassing the Land of Israel with which it has incomparable historical, geographical, religious, economic and security links.


A concise summary of the main points of this book has been published by the Ariel Center for Policy Research in its Policy Paper No. 147, entitled “Legal Rights and Title of Sovereignty of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel and Palestine under International Law” (ACPR Publishers, April 2003). To that source I refer interested readers who may wish to have a quick review of the main points of this book. I have also discussed the approach I have taken in presenting Israel’s legal case, as compared to that of others, in two letters I sent to Professor Ne’eman in 2004, which are reprinted infra in Appendix III.


Professor Ne’eman had originally intended to write his own introduction to the book, but his untimely decease in=2 02007 has made that impossible. However, the letter he wrote to a prospective publisher expressing his enthusiastic endorsement of the book is reproduced in that appendix as a substitute for the intended introduction. I have also included in Appendix IV a juridical assessment of the book composed by the late Dr. Ya’akov Meron, Professor of Moslem Law and Adviser on the Law of Arab Countries at the Ministry of Justice, who sadly passed away in the spring of 2008. He read this book in its entirety and characterized it as “a forceful and erudite pleading for the respecting of the letter and spirit of the law, not only Israeli law but also international law that came into existence in the wake of World War I”. It is certainly a great honor to receive the support of such eminent figures as Professors Ne’eman and Meron for the book as now finally published.


Finally, I have included in Appendix V the correspondence I had with the late Joel Carmichael, the celebrated long-time editor of Midstream, a monthly Jewish review based in New York. I had written to him concerning a article penned by one of his contributors. This article was based on my original thesis as stated above, that de jure sovereignty over all of Palestine had been vested in the Jewish People as a result of the decision taken at the San Remo Peace Conference to cre ate the new mandated state of Palestine in accordance with the Balfour Declaration and Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, though the writer of the article, having learned of this thesis directly from me, neglected to attribute it to me, nor was he authorized to make it public until I had done so in a systematic manner. Nevertheless he posted it on the internet, thus giving it widespread publicity. Mr. Carmichael accepted my analysis most eagerly, and in follow-up correspondence even requested that I submit an article for publication in Midstream, which he said he would publish as the leading article in a future issue. Unfortunately, Mr. Carmichael retired from his position as Editor of Midstream before the article was ready. The article, never published in its original format to this day, is included in Appendix V. The penning of the article marked the precipitate cause that set me on the path to the compilation of the present book, the idea and contents of which having been swirling around in my mind ever since I first presented my legal paper to Professor Ne’eman in 1991. The book is thus the final rendition of that long chain of thoughts.


The comments I have received on my earlier writings on the subject, as expressed in various letters and articles, give me cause to hope that the book may prove in the long run to be of=2 0actual benefit to the Jewish People and the State of Israel in their on-going process of reclaiming and repossessing all of the Jewish National Home and the remaining parts of the Land of Israel*.


 Howard Grief, - Jerusalem, June 2008

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.



*The Jewish National Home and Mandated Palestine were originally meant to be synonymous terms under international law, and were supposed to correspond to the historical or biblical frontiers of the Land of Israel in the First and Second Temple Periods. However, when the borders of Mandated Palestine were finally drawn in 1920 and 1922 by Britain and France, they illegally excluded various areas comprising the Land of Israel in the definition of Palestine, thus creating an unwarranted distinction between what bec ame Palestine and what historically was the Land of Israel. Paradoxically, the distinction between Palestine and the historical Land of Israel was not reflected in the law of Palestine during the period of the Mandate, since the term used in Hebrew to designate the country was Eretz-Israel, even though certain historical parts of it were not included.


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