Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, June 2010
What Legitimacy Does Israel Have?
UN Recognition of Israel Is Fatally Flawed
By Christopher KingRedress, Al-Jazeerah, ccun.org, June 7, 2010
Christopher King argues that beneath Israel’s litany of crimes against the Palestinians, and most recently its murder of humanitarian workers aboard the Gaza-bound international aid flotilla, lies the fact of its own illegality.
“...it is clear that once the Jews took up arms against the Palestinians, dispossessed them and settled on their land, they acted against the terms and intent of the Mandate, to say nothing of civil law.”
The British government resisted unauthorized Jewish immigrants from 1944 to 1948 because they caused trouble with the Palestinians and no administrator likes gratuitous trouble. When the Jews took up arms the British were bound to take action against them. On the Jewish side, there had been expressions of intent based on the Balfour Declaration (1917) that gave Zionists reason to believe that their aspirations had political support. This was so, although with critically important provisos.
The preamble to the League of Nations Mandate by which Britain administered Palestine and which has the same essential wording as the Balfour Declaration, reads:
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on 2 November 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country [my italics].
Whatever was meant by the term “national home for the Jewish people”, it is clear that once the Jews took up arms against the Palestinians, dispossessed them and settled on their land, they acted against the terms and intent of the Mandate, to say nothing of civil law. Britain was placed in the position of breaching the Mandate if it condoned Jewish actions.
“The Balfour Declaration and League of Nations Mandate in favour of a ‘national home for the Jewish people’ are often cited as the legal basis for the Jewish occupation of Palestine. It is obvious, however, that this cannot be true. These instruments had no legal force."
The Balfour Declaration and League of Nations Mandate in favour of a “national home for the Jewish people” are often cited as the legal basis for the Jewish occupation of Palestine. It is obvious, however, that this cannot be true. These instruments had no legal force. Moreover, dispossession of Palestinians from their land breached the most important civil rights safeguarded by the Mandate, namely, the right to possess their land and the right for them and their descendants to live upon it.
Israel’s declaration of independence on 14 May 1948 when the British
Mandate ended has no legal validity. Subsequently, Israel was recognized by
other countries, following the United States. It was admitted to the United
Nations, the rebranded League of Nations, by Resolution 273 on 11 May 1949
which, again is cited by Jewish Palestinians as Israel’s legitimization.
Resolution 273 was a grave error. Israel not only had no pre-existing
historical foundation but it incorporated a fatal flaw. That flaw was its
failure to recognize the rights of the Palestinians. The Balfour Declaration
and the British Mandate had recognized Palestinian rights and the 10
December 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights was a general
acknowledgement that such rights existed for all peoples.
“Israel not only had no pre-existing historical foundation but it incorporated a fatal flaw. That flaw was its failure to recognize the rights of the Palestinians.”
The right to own property and live peacefully upon it already existed in Palestine. In June 2005 Turkey transferred Ottoman land ownership records for Palestine up to 1916 to the Palestinian Authority. From 1917 to 1948 land records were maintained by the British administration. It should be mentioned that the Israeli authorities seized the land records held by the Palestinian Authority as reported by the Scottish Trades Union Council on 22 April 2002:
Our Palestinian trade union colleagues are now confirming what has been
suggested by such news reports as have been able to get out of the areas
under Israeli assault.
The 22 August
from the American Libraries Association’s International Responsibilities
Task Force illustrates that Israel particularly targets libraries that
contain historical records relating to Palestinian demographics (e.g.
Health, Development, Information and Policy Institute, Ramallah), commerce
(e.g. Palestinian Insurance Company, Ramallah) and government statistics
(e.g. Bureau of Statistics, Ramallah). Library papers and computers are
vandalized and records that could support Palestinian claims on their land
are either entirely removed or destroyed.
This then is the fatal flaw in the United Nations 1949 recognition of Israel as a legitimate state within the international community. It ignores the land and residence rights of the Palestinians that had been made explicit in the Balfour Declaration, the British Mandate and the United Nations’ own recognition in the period leading up to the expiry of the British mandate that Palestinian rights must be protected.
By fatal flaw, I mean that the United Nations’ acceptance of Israel’s
status as a legitimate state is inherently invalid. Legitimate means
according to law. In dispossessing the Palestinians Israel had broken that
people’s legally valid tie to the land on which they and their ancestors had
lived for centuries if not millennia, which is the very foundation of
nationhood, national identity and indeed, livelihood.
“The status of the Jews in Palestine in international law is ... that of a people having an ethnic identity, some religious identity but without a Jewish country.”
The Jews of Palestine cannot conceivably, therefore, invent a country and national identity on land confiscated by armed force from the Palestinian people. It is not possible.
Destroying Palestinian records is crime of unspeakable viciousness that
rivals the crimes that Jewish Palestinians carry out against the persons of
their Musilm compatriots. It does immense cultural damage while giving no
advantage to Jews. The lack of records might be easily remedied for land
redistribution purposes on the basis of the known ethnic populations in
1947, when mass immigration commenced. A democratically elected government
for all Palestine, following the return of refugees, could sort out the
As the United States has unfailingly endorsed these principles in the
case of Palestine it will undoubtedly be in accord. Alternatively, perhaps
Muslim Palestinians might do the same. I cannot see what possible objection
the United States government might have.
Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah & ccun.org.
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