6 June 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.
The true nature of the so-called freedom-loving, democratic state of
Israel is now clear to the world following its military attack on Gaza,
its illegal blockade of Gaza with terrible suffering of its population
and now the murder of nine humanitarian activists in course of pirating
the Free Gaza Flotilla in international waters.
These horrifying events should focus minds within the international
community on the legitimacy of the Israeli regime. We should consider
what meaning for its present status its disregard for legality and human
rights since its inception might have.
The foundation of the entity Israel was supported by Europe and America
due to sympathy or guilt, as you might have it, for the suffering of
European Jews, the colonialist thinking of that time and familiarity
with the Jewish biblical narrative.
|“…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
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
to the League of Nations Mandate by which Britain administered
Palestine and which has the same essential wording as the Balfour
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originally made on 2 November 1917, by the Government of His Britannic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
|“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
Israel’s declaration of independence on 14 May 1948 when the
Mandate ended has no legal validity. Subsequently, Israel
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 acknowledgment that such rights existed
for all peoples.
The right to own property without arbitrary confiscation and to live
upon it in one’s own country did not, of course, come into existence
with the UN Declaration of Human Rights. These rights had always
explicity existed in European-based law, as well as in all developed
countries and many others, with the exception of the brief experiment
with socialism in some.
|“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
to 1948 land records were maintained by the British administration. It
should be mentioned that the Israeli authorities seized the land
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.
“Ariel Sharon, with the complicity of the entire Israeli political
establishment, is moving to complete his lifetime’s ambition – the
creation of a state of Greater Israel on all of historic Palestine,
through the expulsion or killing of non-Jewish Palestinians, and the
destruction of all physical evidence of their history.
“That is why the Israeli gunmen have not only been massacring
Palestinians. They have also been demolishing centuries-old buildings,
and ripping up olive groves, some of which date back to Roman times.
“They have seized and removed the records and documentation of the
Palestinian Authority and of Palestinian civic organizations, including
all the membership records of the Palestinian trade unions.
“And most significantly, they have seized the Palestinian
of land ownership. What purpose can that have, other than in order to
destroy evidence of the Palestinians entitlement to their land?
The 22 August report
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.
The fundamental issue in Palestine is land and the right to live upon
it. Israeli actions make clear their awareness that they have no
to the land. Israel is attempting to strengthen its possession by making
it difficult for Palestinians to establish their claims.
|“… 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…”
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.
As I have said elsewhere, legitimacy for Israel can only be granted by
the Palestinians and even they cannot legally give it while under the
duress of armed occupation and dispossession. Agreements with the
Palestinian Authority or even Hamas relating to land allocation and
citizenship are therefore worthless as they might be subject to valid
legal challenge at any time in the future.
The status of the Jews in Palestine in international law is therefore
that of a people having an ethnic identity, some religious identity but
without a Jewish country. Those who emigrated to Palestine possessed
national identities based on their birthplace and parents’ residence as
in the case of the Palestinians. By these internationally-recognized
critera, if they wish to live in Palestine, they are Jewish Palestinians
among Muslim, Christian and whichever other Palestinians have a claim
to the land.
There is no point in the Jews of Palestine or anyone else arguing
subtle and complex legal points in refutation of this. If this
proposition is not true, then any people in any country may be
dispossessed by a more powerful country and lose all claim to their
land. That cannot be the case. International law is founded on the
concept of national identity and the right to defend the nation on which
it is based. That is precisely what Hamas, the legitimate,
democratically-elected government of Palestine is doing.
|“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
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
rivals the crimes that Jewish Palestinians carry out against the
persons of their Muslim 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 details.
I have never heard anyone suggest that the Jews of Palestine should be
ejected from that country. It appears, however, that they do not wish
live equitably among those Palestinians who have prior and better claim
to the land than they.
In that case, I would suggest
that they might
select an agreeable location of about 22,000 square kilometres in the
United States. They could emigrate, drive its American inhabitants out
and set up a Jewish homeland there. More land could be taken over
if desired. 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.
King is a retired consultant and lecturer
in management and marketing. He lives in London, UK.