Friday, September 16, 2016

On the Occupation of Palestine and International Law in...1922

Is the question of the "occupation of Palestine" and the "transfer of a civilian population into the occupied territories" a new issue?  Is the Hague Convention only recently being recalled?

Of course not.

Excerpts from the British House of Lords debate on the

LORD SYDENHAM [1] My Lords, I beg to ask His Majesty's Government the Questions of which I have given Notice—namely:—

1. Whether Palestine, pending the conclusion of peace with Turkey and the acceptance of the Draft Mandate by Parliament, remains in the position of "occupied enemy country."
2. Whether, in "occupied enemy country," International Law, as amended by Section III. of the Hague Convention, sanctions such proceedings as—
(a) The introduction into the country of more than 20,000 aliens against the wishes of more than 90 Per cent. of the people, aad in violation of enemy law.
(b) The imposition of a third official language, which is not spoken by more than five per cent. of the people.
(c) The selling, to a syndicate financed by aliens, of church property which, under enemy law, was treated as Wakf...

In October last I tried to raise the question of the legality of the proceedings of the Government in Palestine, and the answer I received at that time was not at all a satisfactory one. The noble Duke said the High Commissioner of Palestine was "in the position of a competent military authority." I have no doubt whatever that Sir Herbert Samuel is a most competent military authority, but even so exalted a personage ought to have the sanction of Law behind him. It is only in Ireland that we have inside the Empire 145 at the present moment a Government which has no legal authority. The noble Duke admitted at that time that the action of selling the lands of the Greek Church goes somewhat beyond that which is recognised by international jurisprudence as the normal functions of an ordinary Occupying Power. But he contended that "His Majesty's Government is not an ordinary Occupying Power"; and I think he was perfectly right. We are probably the most extraordinary Occupying Power ever known to the world.

Article 43 of Section 3 of the Hague Convention says this: The authority of the legitimate power having actually passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all steps in his power to re-establish and ensure as far as possible public order and safety while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country. I ask your Lordships to note those words, "while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country." Was the Zionist Government which we have set up in Palestine absolutely prevented from respecting Turkish Law in the cases which I have quoted in the second part of my Question? I could have included many more cases of the violation of Turkish Law than I have, but I have selected four typical cases. Is it really absolutely necessary to do all these things? If it is, then my whole contention, of course, falls to the ground.

Take the introduction of more than 20,000 aliens against the wishes of more than ninety per cent. of the people. Can we say that this was absolutely necessary? Why was there such a hurry about it when Palestine had not had time to recover from the devastations of the war and was not in a position to receive a great influx of colonists? This horde of aliens was collected by foreign agents in Central Europe and clumped down on the shores of the Holy Land only because British bayonets supported the dumping. Were British troops ever before employed in such a humiliating duty? Of this horde, a considerable number, no one can say how many, were Bolsheviks, and it was Bolsheviks who started the riots at Jaffa last year and posted up such placards on the walls as these: Down with the English coercive power. Long live the free women of the Communist Society. 146 A section of these aliens is destitute of all morals and is now adding to the vicious elements in Jerusalem and elsewhere. Is it fair to force these people on the Palestinians?

The latest achievement of the Zionists is to smuggle in 303 revolvers and 17,000 rounds of ammunition. They were all brought into the country in beehives and incubators, which the Zionist Government had proclaimed to be free of duty. A previous consignment was landed without detection, and a third consignment was found to be on the way. This must mean that these arms come from Germany through Trieste, and it shows that these imported aliens, whom we have forced upon Palestine by our Army there, are already in secret relations with their co-religionists in Europe. I ask your Lordships to consider whether all this was absolutely necessary and, therefore, consonant with the Article I have quoted from the Hague Convention.

I turn to the selling of the lands of the Greek Church, which was certainly in violation of Turkish Law. I explained in October exactly what was done. These lands were parcelled out into large lots which could not be purchased by any of the Palestinians, none of them being wealthy enough for the purpose. Since then the sale has taken place. There was no competition, and I understand that the lands went for very much below their value. The possessors of this land, which is the most valuable suburban land around Jerusalem, are now living in New York, Chicago, Frankfort, Berlin, Paris, London—all or any of these places. Article 56 of the Hague Convention directs that the property of institutions "dedicated to religious worship, … even when belonging to the State, shall be treated as private property." I do not know if that Article helps my ease in any way, for I am not lawyer enough to be able to say, but the fact is that this Church property was sold to aliens by the Zionist Government against the wishes of the people and against the law of the country, and the effect of that in future will be most serious. Again I ask your Lordships to consider whether that could be pronounced to be in any way a necessary action.

...I have spoken of the Government of Palestine as a Zionist Government, and I think I am justified in using that term. The Government is a pure autocracy in the hands of a man whom Mr. Churchill described in the House of Commons as "an ardent Zionist." In addition, the Legal Secretary is a Zionist, the Secretary of Commerce and Industry is a Zionist, and the Director of Stores, who disposes of all the contracts, is also a Zionist. It is a remarkable fact that two of these persons took a very active part in the long and complicated manœuvres which led to the Balfour Declaration, and they now appear in high office in Palestine. But that is not nearly all. An imperium in imperio was set up in April, 1918, six months before Viscount Allenby had completed the conquest of Palestine, so great was the hurry to take possession of this little country. That Zionist Commission was reorganised and strengthened in 1919, and it consists of persons who are not Palestinian citizens but are supposed to represent International Zionism. The effect of such a body sitting in Jerusalem can easily he imagined. Like Bunty, it pulls all the strings. By the terms of the proposed Mandate it is proposed to make this Commission a statutory body, and that will have the necessary effect of placing the economic future of Palestine in the hands of foreign international capitalists. I should have thought that even a Unionist House of Commons would not have put up with that, but one never knows what may happen now.

In his recent tour in Palestine, Lord Northcliffe made two quite important discoveries. He found out that Palestine is now governed by armoured cars, which I think quite well expresses the situation, and he also discovered that the orthodox Jews of Palestine are very strongly opposed to Zionism, as indeed they may very well be. I hope I have not wearied your Lordships; I have not told half of this wretched story. In all our history I know of no instance in which we have occupied a country, said we were liberating that country, and then treated it with the injustice and even inhumanity that we have shown to Palestine...

I think that the patience and restraint shown by Palestinians, Moslem and Christian, like the patience and restraint which have been shown by Ulstermen, have been very remarkable.[2] There have been some local disturbances, which in certain cases, as at Jaffa, were started by Zionists. But it is not safe to count on the continuance of this patience, and our present large and quite unnecessary military expenditure may have to be very considerably increased in the near future. I hope that His Majesty's Government will this afternoon make the situation perfectly clear, in so far as it is affected by the Hague Convention. For myself, I attach much more importance to the moral law than to any other law, and I believe that we are now violating the moral law every day in the treatment of our late Allies, the helpless Palestinian population, for whose welfare we have made ourselves completely and entirely responsible.

THE DUKE OF SUTHERLAND My Lords, the status of Palestine and the position of His Majesty's Government therein were exhaustively discussed in your Lordships' House in connection with the Question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Parmoor, on November 10 last [3]. On that occasion I explained that Palestine is at present, and will be until the coming into force of the Treaty of Peace with Turkey, "occupied enemy territory," and that His Majesty's Government's position therein is that of an Occupying Power.

I went on, however, to explain that His Majesty's Government's position is not that of an ordinary Occupying Power. In ordinary circumstances an Occupying Power is merely in temporary occupation of a portion of enemy territory which may, and probably will in due course, be returned to the Power which formerly possessed it. In these circumstances it is only 149 reasonable and proper that the Occupying Power should maintain the territory as far as possible in statu quo ante, in order that the minimum of dislocation may occur when it is evacuated and returned to the Power which possessed it before. It is also in ordinary circumstances usual to find in the country an existing administration which can be carried on without very much difficulty.

In the case of Palestine, however, both these conditions are absent. Palestine is not going to be returned to Turkey, and the obsolete and outworn system of government which had been imposed by the Turkish conquerors upon a non-Turkish population had disappeared with their disappearance. There was, therefore, no reason for re-establishing this system, and it was incumbent, upon His Majesty's Government, as I said in my reply to the noble Lord, Lord Parmoor, to set up a civil administration in the country for the purpose of discharging the necessary functions of government.

But more than this, His Majesty's Government, when they were entrusted with the administration of Palestine by the Supreme Council of the Allies at San Remo, were entrusted with it under certain definite conditions. They were to administer the country in such a manner as to implement the Balfour Declaration; that is to say, while protecting the civil and religious rights of the existing inhabitants, they were to render possible the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine. Such conditions were totally incompatible with the strict observance of the status quo ante, by which was implied the maintenance of that mediæval immobility which was characteristic of countries within the Ottoman Empire. His Majesty's Government cannot therefore admit that they are entitled only to take such action in Palestine as is strictly sanctioned by Section 3 of the Hague Convention.

I will now deal with the four specific points raised by the noble Lord. First, as regards immigration, the obligations imposed on His Majesty's Government by the conditions under which Palestine was entrusted to them, made it necessary for them to initiate a policy of strictly controlled and selective Jewish immigration up to the economic absorptive, capacity of the country. It is true that in 1888 a Turkish Law was promulgated forbidding the entry into Palestine of foreign, or, indeed, Turkish Jews for a period exceeding three months. The Powers, however, never recognised the validity of this law, basing their objection on the fact that it tended to discriminate between Jewish and non-Jewish nationals of foreign States, and in practice the law had been ineffective since its promulgation...

§LORD LAMINGTON My Lords, I do not quite understand from the answer of the noble Duke what is the present position of the Immigration Regulations in Palestine. I understand that those Regulations, which imposed certain discrimination as to the nationality of the Jews who were to be admitted, were a failure, and that therefore at the present time Jews of any nationality can enter Palestine, presumably under Zionist assistance. To my mind, the one question which touches not only the Arab but the Christian population of Palestine, is the question of immigration. I understand that there would be no objection to a native of Palestine returning to his home, but there is the strongest objection to having immigrants introduced there by Zionist or Jewish influence, and this is a point which weighs most heavily, I fancy, upon all those who dislike the idea of this Jewish Home in Palestine. I should therefore be glad if the noble Duke would say what is the position of the immigration of Jews into Palestine.

THE DUKE OF SUTHERLAND I think I made it clear in the first part of my statement that we had initiated a policy of strictly controlled and selective immigration up to the economic absorptive capacity of the country—that is to say, not more than can be absorbed in the country are allowed to come in, and those who are able to come in are carefully examined before they are allowed to enter. No Bolsheviks, or people of that kind, are allowed to come in.
LORD LAMINGTON Are their passages paid, or do they come in by voluntary effort?
THE DUKE OF SUTHERLAND May I have notice of that Question?
LORD RAGLAN Is it not a fact that a large number of these Jews are not self-supporting, but are employed on relief works, paid for by the Arab taxpayer?
THE DUKE OF SUTHERLAND That, again, I should like to look into, but I doubt whether it is so.
LORD SYDENHAM May I ask whether in the four cases which I quoted in the Question, His Majesty's Government consider that the Government of Palestine were absolutely prevented from following the ordinary law of the land. Do I understand the noble Duke to say that the original Turkish Law, which rigidly regulated the introduction of Jews, had not been observed?
THE DUKE OF SUTHERLAND The law which was promulgated in 1888 has never been put into force, or recognised by the Powers. It is true that it existed, but it has never been observed.
LORD SYDENHAM I take it, all the same, that it has been acted upon, because there was no great influx of Jews until we took over the country.

My notes:

[1] In a speech he delivered at a luncheon given by the Palestine Arab Delegation at the Hotel Cecil in London on 15th November, 1921 he spoke the Zionist aggression in Palestine : its objects and achievements and described the Mandate negotatiated with the Zionists as "monstrous".

and this which resonates with the theme of Canaanite Eyes, here too, and more and  Saeb Erekat's propaganda Netufians

[2] In April 1920, May 1921 and November 1921, there were murderous Arabs riots in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Petah Tikva.

[3] The debate is here.  And it includes this section:
"THE DUKE OF SUTHERLAND My Lords...It is quite true that the present legal position of His Majesty's Government in Palestine is that of a power occupying enemy territory. I am advised that, from a strictly legal point of view, the action taken by His Majesty's Government, through the Palestine Government, with respect to the Patriarchate is entirely legal; that is, that it cannot be questioned by the Courts and will be validated in due course by the necessary legal processes when the military occupation comes to an end. I am informed that the Ordinance regulating the affairs of the Patriarchate is perfectly legal, in that it is an order of the High Commissioner who is in the position of a competent military authority.

On the other hand, it is perfectly true that this action goes somewhat beyond that which is recognised by international jurisprudence as the normal functions of an ordinary occupying power. But I would represent to your Lordships that His Majesty's Government. is not an "ordinary" occupying power. It has been entrusted by the Supreme Council of the Allies with the administration of Palestine, pending the coming into force of the Treaty of Sevres, and consequently considered itself authorised, and indeed bound, to set up a civil administration in the country for the purpose of discharging the usual functions of Government...According to International Law a country in foreign occupation must be administered according to its own law, but the occupying Power can modify this law by orders issued by the competent military authority, and this has been done in regard to many matters in Palestine,..
LORD PARMOOR If I may say one word in answer to the noble Duke, I thank hint very much for the detailed answer that he has given to my Question, but if we look beneath the surface I think I am not going too far if I say that he, speaking on behalf of His Majesty's Government, admits that what has been done in Palestine cannot be regarded as legal under International Law, and will have to be validated by subsequent proceedings.
THE DUKE OF SUTHERLAND My reply does not admit that it is illegal action. The words I used were: "I am advised that front a strictly legal point of view the action taken by His Majesty's Government, through the Palestine Government, is entirely legal."...I... made it clear that there are powers by which the High Commissioner, representing the military authority, can modify the law. "The occupying Power can modify the law by orders issued by the competent military authority," and therefore the action taken was in that respect legal.


1 comment:

Why is the Shin Bet trying to frame Pearlman? Pe said...

Thanks for reminding me of the historical facts.