Wednesday, February 23, 2011

When Israel's Diplomat Forgets History

A participant in a recent evening with an Israeli diplomat felt a bit disturbed by the resposnses and phrases he heard.

The event he attended was with Ishmael Khaldi, a Bedouin Israeli diplomat. It was sponsored by a group called Dor Chadash which seems to be a great idea, linking up young Israelis who are stuck in America with American Jews who haven't yet made the decision to get unstuck. They want to

1.Create meaningful connections with Israel through cutting edge programs and engaging events focused on Israeli culture, heritage and current events.
2.Develop social bonds with members who are equally passionate about Israel.
3.Become actively involved in the local, national and global Jewish community.

Don't we all.  Anyway, the participant found that

...the talk was rambling and the hosts had to ask him several times to wrap it up so that we could get to the Q-&-A period.

More substantively, though: Khaldi said the vast majority of Israelis, including himself, favor the creation of a Palestinian state/the two-state solution. In the Q-&-A period, on the interrelated issues of his thoughts on the Jewish State question and the question of whether Jordan is in fact the second state...He said that the Jewish State "is a fact." He did not endorse or reject that fact, and before moving on to another question he said "There is a problem with the national anthem." On the second point, he explicitly and repeatedly denied that the British Mandate for Palestine had resulted in the creation of two states, Israel and Jordan. He said that Jordan ("like Saudi Arabia") was separate, part of a separate territory and process, having nothing whatsoever to do with the British Mandate. His line of argument seemed to be that the Mandate territory equals present-day Israel and that therefore, the second state has not yet been created.

My informant was perturbed, as I am.

First, Jordan was administered up until 1946, when it gained independence, as part of the Palestine Mandate:

Britain administered the part west of the Jordan, 23% of the entire territory, as "Palestine", and the part east of the Jordan, 77% of the entire territory, as "Transjordan." The subsequent two mandates were administrated under one single British Foreign Office High Commissioner which does not prejudice or vacate the international principle whereof official League of Nations documents referred to them as if they were two separate mandates.

Moreover, in 1946,

...When the UK announced plans for Transjordanian independence, the final Assembly of the League of Nations and the General Assembly both adopted resolutions which indicated support for the proposal. However, the Jewish Agency and many legal scholars raised objections. Duncan Hall said that each mandate was in the nature of a treaty, and that being treaties, the mandates could not be amended unilaterally. John Marlowe noted that despite Transjordan's theoretical independence as conferred by the 1946 Treaty, the Arab Legion continued to be used, under nominal Transjordanian but actual British command, for police duties and for frontier control in Palestine. The Jewish Agency spokesmen said that Transjordan was an integral part of Palestine, and that according to Article 80 of the UN Charter, the Jewish people had a secured interest in its territory...Transjordan applied for membership in the United Nations. The President of the Security Council, speaking in his capacity as the representative of Poland, said that Transjordan was part of a joint Mandate. He denied that the Mandate had been legally terminated and asserted the rights and obligations of the United Nations. He mentioned that US Secretary of State Byrnes had spoken out against premature recognition of Transjordan, and he added that the application should not be considered until the question of Palestine as a whole was addressed. Transjordan's application for UN membership was not approved. At the 1947 Pentagon Conference, the USA advised the UK it was withholding recognition of Transjordan pending a decision on the Palestine question by the United Nations.

And on that two-state solution, polls on that issue are hazy.  The indications are that while many  belive that that is the solution, very few believe it will come about.

In any case, I think the diplomat needs some review lessons on Mandate history.


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