The Legal Right to Palestine (15m video Jonathan Freedland & others might wish to watch)

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14th September 2011

BREAKING: Word is that the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas may back off his unilateral call for full statehood recognition at the UN.  And someone we Brits know well is central to this development.

Excerpt, Debka: Early Wednesday, Sept. 14, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas decided crucially not to submit his application to the UN Security Council […] he may not have caved in completely. Neither is it clear whether Netanyahu will swallow the new blueprint Tony Blair is about to dish up.

Below is an excellent short documentary on the legal and political issues surrounding Israel and its founding.

Opening with the November 1947 resolution at the UN General Assembly, it starts with the vote on Resolution 181 which paved the way for the rebirth of the state of Israel in 1948.

However, did this give Israel legitimacy?

The answer is no. Generally speaking in international law general assembly resolutions are not binding.

An interesting point in itself if one considers the weight that was given to resolutions and non-existing resolutions over Iraq.

Put that thought on the back-burner right now, even though if accurate it negates all the charges against such as Tony Blair & George Bush over the validity of UN resolutions regarding the Iraq invasion.  There is enough in the rest of the 15 minute video to be going on with.

And why do I suggest Mr Freedland should watch this video?

Because of his article – ‘Britain should say yes to Palestinian statehood – and so should Israel’

Its sub-heading reads – ‘A no vote at the UN will boost Netanyahu, wound Fatah and discredit the Europeans as useless hypocrites’

Really, Mr Freedland? Quite how a “no” vote would discredit Netanyahu evades me completely.  It might wound Fatah, but even that is to assume a lot about Fatah and its relationships to others.  As for discrediting we Europeans as hypocrites – on the evidence of the above video, it looks like the opposite may in fact be the case.

Mr Freedland’s article insists –

“… but Britain’s attitude should be clear: we should say yes.That’s because UN recognition of a Palestinian state in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 will breathe fresh life into the ailing idea which, despite everything, remains the last best hope of Israeli-Palestinian peace – a two-state solution.”

BRITISH INFLUENCE & INTEREST

There is someone who happens to be European, better still happens to be British who understands ALL of the background as well as the present position of both sides.  Unlike those of a different position than, for instance, Tony Blair over Iraq, such as Carne Ross, quoted by Mr Freedland here I do not think each of us can “do our bit”.  But then my expectations from the Arab spring are not as high as those of many.

It is time we let those who see all sides in this decades-long dispute get on with the work. If the Quartet Representative Blair manages to bring these two sides together – sorry – the Israelis Vs and the Palestinians/Syrians/Lebanese/Jordanians/Saudis/Turks/Egyptians + 14 other Arab states to a better place his next act may be walking on the waters of Galilee.

The British press and intelligentsia approach to Israeli/Palestinian issues, especially on the political left is based more on a knee-jerk reaction against the seeming power of Israel. Meanwhile there is the nonsensical belief that Israel’s existence is somehow “illegitimate”.

Poor old all-the-other-21 in the Middle East.  All 21 Arab states. All threatened by Israel’s very existence.  Legal as it clearly is.

The video above with its historical references should help to clarify why today there are 21 Arab states and ONE Jewish state in the Middle East.

Some points of interest, in case you declined to watch the video[my emphases]-

  • It’s a wide myth – there’s absolutely no truth – that Israel’s legal foundation is based on the UN partition resolution of November 29th 1947.
  • If the Jewish people and the Arabs had agreed to enter into a treaty based on the terms of resolution then rights and obligations could have been created in international law. But that didn’t happen.
  • The San Remo resolution (1920) is the basic constitutional document of the state of Israel under international law.
  • In the 1922 Palestine mandate decided to give recognition to the historic right of the Jewish people to “reconstitute” their national home.  Therefore recognising a pre-existing right and not creating a new right.
  • At San Remo, what had been exclusively a British approach, receives the full backing of the international community and in that sense Israel’s legitimacy is linked to an international decision at San Remo and not just a whim of British policy.
  • Legal rights were granted – given to both the Jewish people and the Arab people. Historical rights to this land given at this time.
  • It was the Jewish people that were chosen to be the beneficiaries of a trust-run mandate, under the care of the British government in respect to Palestine. It was the Primary objective of the Mandate for Palestine was to grant political rights in respect to Palestine to the Jewish people.  Insofar as national and collective rights were concerned these were reserved for the Jewish people because the Arabs were given the same rights not in Palestine but in neighbouring countries. That is why today you have 21 Arab states and one Jewish state.
  • In their final resolution passed by the League of Nations in April 1946 it is specified that the intent is that after the dissolution of the League of Nations it is necessary to continue to look after the well-being and the development of the people concerned in each mandate in accordance with the obligations contained in the respective mandates. And for Palestine that meant the Jewish people.
  • Following Israel’s statehood in 1948 the country was invaded by five Arab armies intending to destroy the Jewish state. The UN did nothing.  Eastern part of Jerusalem was annexed by Jordan. Jordan’s sovereignty was never recognised by UN. City was divided for 18 years.
  • The 1967 Green Line was simply an armistice line, chosen between Israel & the Jewish people and the Jordanians when they stopped fighting in 1948/49. That line, it is specified in the treaty in the Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan, was never intended to be for anyone the source of rights and obligations.
  • The original Oslo agreements, the first one in 1993 the big Oslo agreement in 1995 known as the Interim Agreement had a clause in them, Article 31, and it said – “neither side shall change the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip prior to the completion of the permanent status  negotiations”.  If the Palestinians try and change the status of the territory without negotiating with Israel that is a unilateral act which violates this commitment.
  • Why is this particularly important for Europe? Because when the interim agreement was signed with that critical clause at the White House in the presence of President Clinton the European Union signed the agreement as well as a witness. And therefore if  EU countries decide to support the Palestinian move in the UN in contravention of that Palestinian commitment in Oslo, what they’re essentially doing is lending a hand to the violation of a written agreement to which they are also signatories.  So the immediate question in Israel will be – who would ever rely on the European Union again to be involved in the peace process if it violates the very agreements that it itself signed.
  • Many who tell Israel to re-divide Jerusalem along the ’67 lines and therefore placing the whole old city on the Palestinian/Arab side forget what happened in 1948.  Jews were ethnically cleansed, forced to leave, and the Arab Legion along with Palestinian locals destroyed 55 synagogues and Talmudic academies. Israel is determined to avoid such again.
  • The whole world is saying to Israel – why don’t you recognise the rights of the Palestinians to a Palestinian state?
    It seems elementary, and Israelis hear this all the time. But put the shoe on the other foot. Do you see anybody telling the Palestinians – ‘you must recognise the rights of the Jewish people to a nation state of their own, whose roots are in international legitimacy … going back to San Remo and to the British mandate by the League of Nations’ ? Unfortunately that same demand is not made of the other side and perhaps exposes its real intent.

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Many, including Dr Jacques Gauthier – international human rights lawyer, Dore Gold – former Israeli Ambassador to UN,  Howard Grief – International Lawyer and former Palestinian terrorist Walid Shoebat, don’t necessarily see things in those terms.  How often are we reminded by the Palestinian side of the San Remo Conference April 25th 1920? Yet this is the place and time when legal rights were given to both the Jewish people and the Arab people. At San Remo what had been initially a British approach received the full backing of the international community, and in that sense “Israel’s legitimacy is linked to an international agreement at San Remo and not just a whim of British policy.”

It is all of great historical consequence to the British and Europeans, as well as to the Israelis and Palestinians.

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Who is Walid Shoebat?

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RELATED

1. Washington Institute – The Palestinian Bid for UN Membership: Rationale, Response, Repercussions

2. Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan may prove even more intransigent than even Abbas, due to its present relations with Israel. Who’d wish to be in Tony Blair’s shoes right now?

3. The Guardian says that Europe is split on backing any unilateral Palestinian declaration.  Spain is for. Others including Britain yet to declare. But the pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel Guardian is still intent on declaring that the EU is at the centre of negotiations.  Sorry, it is not.  But one European is.

While I’m on the topic of the guardian of all that is just, right and moral, that reminds me: what was the reason I said in a tweet last night that I trusted Tony Blair far more than I trusted Mr Freedland? It has been clear for some time, years in fact, that the dissatisfaction over Blair’s Iraq decision has turned many against anything which he says, does or even suggests. As well as that it has turned many against anything Israeli or American. The great and lesser Satans of this wicked world.

Regarding Iraq, for instance in June 27th as Tony Blair left office Freedland said this:

I have written before that it is an indictment of our system of government that Tony Blair was able to remain in office despite Iraq. Even if he was not culpable of deception, as he insists he was not, even if he only ever did what he thought was right, he was guilty of the grossest misjudgment – one that has led to the deaths of at least 118 British service personnel, along with as many as 655,000 Iraqis. For that mistake alone, even if it was an honest one, he should have paid with his job. It is a badge of shame for the parliamentary Labour party and the cabinet (and indeed his successor), who between them could have driven Blair from office, that they did not do so earlier. But it also reflects a moral failure by Blair that he leaves today believing himself to be a star, going out on a high.

His expected appointment as the Middle East envoy of the international community suggests he’s pulled it off, winning instant rehabilitation, at least from the club of world leaders. The likeliest outcome is that he will not succeed in the job, if only because the circumstances are so utterly unconducive to progress. Indeed, the role could be a painful reminder of the most unhappy aspects of his premiership, as he encounters Arab suspicion that he is merely a lackey of George Bush, and Arab anger over Iraq and the Lebanon war of 2006.

It is seldom pointed out by our press that the assumption that Mr Blair is seen as a mere “lackey” is utterly wrong-headed. Yet it is clear to those of us who actually watch how he is greeted in the Middle East, by political leaders and public alike.

Mr Freedland, who tweets here, may yet redeem HIMself in my eyes, but not for the suggestion in the last sentence of this excerpt:

“If he [Blair] was to defy those odds, and achieve success, providing the dogged, daily application of pressure and pursuit of detail that the Israel-Palestine conflict requires (and which he demonstrated in Northern Ireland), then he will deserve enormous credit. Indeed, he will have gone a large way towards redeeming his reputation. Maybe that’s why he’s so keen to do it.”

He was “so keen to do it” Mr Freedland, since first looking at it seriously in Bill Clinton’s time as President, well over 12 years ago, if I recall correctly. [You might wish to look for this link online Mr Freedland. You, after all, are paid to do balanced research journalism. Aren’t you?]

THE IRAN QUESTION

So, in my humble opinion Mr Freedland’s inability to see any link between issues in the Israel/Palestine/Iraq/Afghanistan situations has been compromised by his determined position on Iraq. It’s likely that he sees no exacerbating effect from the likelihood of a threat from a nuclear Iran. If so, he has that in common with most of the Westminster-based literati. His thoughts are shown in his article on Blair at Chilcot Inquiry 2010

Freedland:

“Not content with that, Blair pushed further, apparently touting a new war in the Persian Gulf, this time against Iraq’s neighbour, Iran. All day Blair used his platform to bring up Iran, even when it was only tangentially related to the topic in hand. The arguments that applied in 2002 – about WMD falling into terrorist hands – applied in spades to Iran in 2010, he said.

Blair clearly doesn’t realise that the fastest way to taint any planned military action against Iran is to associate it with the catastrophe of Iraq. But he is convinced that he can see what others cannot, that he is a latter-day Winston Churchill, crying out a warning that others refuse to heed. He thinks history will vindicate him – crediting him for seeing the menace of Saddam and Iran when others refused to listen.

Exiled and reviled by those who will forever believe he is a war criminal, he is still a character from a Trollope novel – specifically the one entitled, He Knew He Was Right.”

I’ll leave the last word to a man who knows: Tony Blair: “Resolution will only come through negotiations”

[Sorry for going on a bit in this post. Some settlements take longer than others]

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Recent comments:

I am staggered by all the hate directed towards our former Prime Minister. I believe that Tony Blair made the Iraq decision in good faith and is most certainly NOT a war criminal. If anyone should be tried at the Hague it should be those in the media for totally misrepresenting the information and facts. The media are to blame for fuelling this hatred as it is purely driven by them. (UK)

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The greatest and most successful leader the Labour Party has ever had with the courage to fight the Islamist terrorists who really would like to kill us all, and you never hear a good word about him. The herd of independent minds, commentators, activists etc who have never had to make a difficult decision in their lives drown out all debate with their inane chants of war crimes and blood on his hands. Defend him at every chance. I just wish more people would do it. (Glasgow, UK)
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Blair was the greatest Labour Prime Minister. It is a disgrace that the party has turned away from his legacy. Shame on Ed Miliband and his so-called ‘new generation’.

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