Monday, March 07, 2011

"Based on Rights"

Arlene Kushner

I begin here where I left off yesterday: My post focused on the need for Netanyahu, should he address Congress with a new "initiative," to begin by stating Israel's rights and correcting historical misrepresentations that have prevailed.

But even as I wrote, I realized that -- while it was deeply important for him to do this -- more was needed. For it falls to each and every one of us, if we care about Israel, to also state Israel's case. A dear friend of mine in the States, who understands the issues well, alluded to "the '67 border," in phone conversation with me recently. Wait, I told her, it's not a border. "I know," she replied, "but it's written that way in the news so frequently that I just tend to think that way."

I understood then precisely what we're up against: The lies have been so thoroughly and successfully promoted that they've been internalized. Reversing this will not be easy, but it must be done. And we all have our part to play in making this happen.

Please, carefully read and then internalize the information that I provide below. Save it for future reference. And use it -- in discussions with others, in writing letters to the editor, in call-in radio shows, wherever you find the opportunity to confront Arab distortions that diminish or deny basic Israeli rights.

As well, share this as widely as you can, so that others can do the same.


After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, and the dispersion of much of the Jewish population, the Romans re-named ancient Judea "Palestine." In all the years between this destruction and the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948, "Palestine" was only an appendage to one empire or another -- Roman, Byzantine, Mamaluk, Ottoman, etc. etc. -- and was never an independent entity. There has never been an independent "Palestinian" state.


In April 1930, at the end of WWI, the allies met in San Remo, Italy, to determine the future of territories -- including Palestine -- formerly controlled by the defeated Ottoman (Turkish) Empire.

It was decided that a Mandate was to be established in Palestine and given to Great Britain. This Mandate acknowledged the Jewish people's historical connection to the land: It spoke about the Jews reconstituting a homeland in Palestine. And it gave the Jewish people the right to settle everywhere in Palestine between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, immigration by Jews was to be facilitated and "close settlement" encouraged.

On July 14, 1922, the entire 51-nation membership of the League of Nations unanimously approved the Mandate for Palestine, thus establishing the Jewish right to Palestine in international law. It has never been superseded. (The UN assumed all obligations of the League.)


In 1947, when the British decided to withdraw from their responsibility under the Mandate, the UN General Assembly voted to partition Palestine into a state for Jews and a state for Arabs. Because the resolution was passed in the General Assembly, it had no status in international law. Resolutions of the General Assembly are only recommendations, and this in no way legally superseded the Mandate.

Ultimately, the Arabs rejected it, in any event.

The Jews, however, who had accepted the plan, adhered to it when they declared the independent sovereign state of Israel on April 14, 1948.

The remainder of "Palestine" was unclaimed Mandate territory.


Within a day, the Arab League declared war on the nascent Jewish state, with the intention of destroying her.

In the course of that war, Jordan seized Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. That seizure was illegal, because it occurred during an offensive war.

In April 1949, Israel and Jordan signed an armistice agreement that established an armistice line -- called the Green Line -- that determined respective areas of control.

This line was based on the ceasefire line. It was not intended to be permanent. The armistice agreement specifically stated that the armistice line would not prejudice future negotiations on a permanent border.


This, my friends, is at the heart of the issue. All that I wrote before sets it into historical context so that it can be understood. But the bottom line: The Green Line was not a border, it a was a temporary armistice line.

Yet Abbas insists that everything to the east of that line (Judea and Samara, and eastern Jerusalem) belongs to the Palestinian Arabs. And, Heaven help us, he's got a good part of the world believing it.


Let us keep in mind, as well, that it was not the Palestinian Authority on the other side of the Green Line. There was no Palestinian Authority then and the Palestinian Arabs were not players in a political sense. In fact, back in 1948-49, the Arabs who did live in Palestine considered themselves simply to be part of the Arab nation, or Greater Syria.

That this area has come to be considered "Palestinian" -- and that the world can go on about "Palestinian rights" -- is something quite incredible.


In June 1967, Israel fought a defensive war, the Six Day War, in the course of which eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria were liberated. (I'm leaving Gaza out of this discussion, although it was very much included.)

In no sense, however, can it be said that Israel became an "occupier" of that area. "Occupation" occurs when forces are moved into the territory of another sovereign nation. But Judea and Samaria were not part of any sovereign nation. Jordan's presence was illegal. The territory remained unclaimed Mandate land. And no one has greater claim to it than Israel.

What is more, Israel secured this area in the course of a defensive war. This is not the same as Jordan's acquisition of the region in an offensive war (a war of aggression). It is not uncommon for states that acquire land in the course of defending themselves to retain at least part of that land, for defensive purposes. This was recognized by Security Council Resolution 242, passed after the Six Day War. Israel was not expected to return to the Green Line.


What Resolution 242 did say was that final determination of a border would be via negotiations. But let me be very clear about this: The expectation was that Israel and Jordan would negotiate. Security Council Resolution 242 mentions neither a Palestinian people nor a Palestinian state. "Palestinians" were not part of the political/diplomatic picture then, either.


As to the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, known as "settlements," they are not illegal.

This is obvious on the face of it, as the prevailing international law is the Mandate, which grants Jews the right to settlement between the river and the sea.

But let me add here that the Oslo Accords in no way rendered the "settlements" illegal or illegitimate. In fact, the Oslo Accords didn't speak specifically of a Palestinian state at all, but suggested something more along the lines of an autonomy. And there was certainly no indication that everything beyond the Green Line would some day belong to the Palestinian Arabs.


The more the history and the legalities are understood, the clearer it becomes how the situation has "morphed," with Palestinian Arabs and their supporters distorting and inflating the reality, bit by bit.

For a background on the above information that provides additional legal citations, see this piece by Eli Hertz of Myths and Fact, "World Leaders Ignore International Law":


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

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