Sunday, December 13, 2020

San Remo a la Martin Kramer

In Martin Kramer's treatment of the San Remo Conference, he, correctly, notes that that historic event highlights

Britain’s history of imperial self-dealing, which at San Remo and as a consequence of San Remo nearly undermined any prospect of a Jewish state.

 and therefore, to suggest, as he does, that this claim

San Remo was and remains more important to Israel’s legitimacy than the Balfour Declaration and the UN resolution

is incorrect is itself quite incorrect. He is wrong.

Moreover, Kamer terms as "an arcane argument" that

the mandate enjoined Britain [in Article 6] to “encourage . . . close settlement by Jews on the land,” and [as] Britain had a mandate for all of Palestine...Jewish settlement anywhere in the land cannot be illegal...[and as] the [1947] UN General Assembly...resolution...wasn’t ever adopted...Thus, in the absence of a Palestinian Arab state, Israel stands as the sole successor state to the League of Nations mandate

One last bit of Kramer's argument is that to invoke San Remo so as to 

legitimate...Israeli sovereignty over all of mandate Palestine, is itself a deviation from the past Zionist and Israeli understanding both of San Remo and of the mandate. 

In response, I would suggest the following points:

1. The Mandate in any form could not have gone forward without San Remo. Whatever the status of the San Remo decisions (not all connected with the future of Palestine), the Conference was another important and crucial link towards Jewish statehood. Whatever changes and alterations in wording there were, as Kramer notes, without it, the future Mandate to be adopted later, in July 1922, might not have occured.

2. The dispute over whether "civil rights" included political rights of the Arabs of Palestine or whether any rights were "upgraded" is itself arcane as the term "Arabs" does not appear neither in any San Remo decision nor in the League of Nations Mandate decision. There were no specific "Arab political rights" that were guaranteed, as opposed to those of and for the Jews. In that territory slated to become the reconstituted Jewish national home, there were Jews and non-Jews and the geopolitical entity was first and foremost Jewish, especially through the historic connection of the Jewish people, as noted in the preamble, to that territory as is phrased in the Mandate decision. 

Indeed, that is obvious from the decision's wording:

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

Political is mentioned but in connection with Jews in other countries than Palestine and so the meaning Kramer attempts to apply to the term doesn't hold up to his intention. Furthermore, the decison reads that it deals with

the surrender of the rights hitherto enjoyed [emphasis added] by the non-Jewish communities in Palestine;

Obviously, "hitherto" refers not to some future right of separate nationality but of, yes, civil rights and liberties in the field of community and religious spheres, to the extent they existed. This was not to be on par with the Jews. Whatever France considered as adopted was not a significant aspect in what developed.

3. As for Kramer's assertion that "Palestine had been given not to the Jews but to the British", a Zionist delegation was in attendance and all were aware that indeed Palestine was intended for the Jews with British guardianship. That was the deal. But it was all lfor the Jews in any case.  Much anti-Zionist effort had gone into an attempt to get at Wilson and dissuade him for lending support to Great Britain's efforts and all was thwarted.

Even the wittling down of territory that was already planned by the British in favor of establishing an Arab regime in Tranjordan was not new, as unfortunate as it was as the original Zionist map presnted to the Versailles Peace Conference of January 1919 was not accepted even then.

4. Could San Remo been avoided? Was there a substitute? Of course not. The four powers making up the Conference, with observer status provided to the United States, were self-described as the liberators of the Ottoman Empire and so they were accepted. Their standing, in international law, provided the future state of Israel and, today, its presence in Judea and Samaria, the quite legitimate legal right to continue with the basic goals of the Mandate: close settlement by Jews on the land and Jewish immigration.

The belittling of the April 1920 San Remo Conference is unworthy, with all its negative aspects as he points out.

^



14 comments:

borhani said...

Thanks! Posted this comment on the Mosaic web site:

Interesting history, thank you. I do feel, however, that I must push back. (Yisrael Medad's recent blog post, San Remo a la Martin Kramer raises similar points.)

The intent of the League of Nations (LoN) Mandate for Palestine, based on a plain reading of its text, was indeed to set up a state, finessed to garner support as the ambiguously worded "national home," for the Jews — only — in Palestine:
"The Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the [Balfour] declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor 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 [civil and religious] rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country;"

We can parse and re-parse this text, and marvel at the deviousness and sleights of rhetorical hand of Curzon, Millerand, and many others, but none of that changes the clear meaning of the legally binding texts. (The Mandate was made binding international law by the Council of the LoN; its central tenet, the Balfour Declaration, became binding United States law in 1922 [despite the US not joining the LoN]; and continued to remain binding international law via Article 80 of Charter of the United Nations).

What is that meaning?

1. A "national home" for the Jews should be established within the Mandate borders. The backdrop and totality of the LoN mandatory system makes crystal clear that the so-called "Class A" mandates were established to facilitate the independent political rule of their trustees, here the Jews in Palestine. To interpret otherwise is to reject the political basis for all former Class A Mandatory states — Israel, of course, but also [Trans]Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. Article 22 of the Covenant of the LoN states, "Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone." (emphasis added) Class B and Class C Mandatory states in Africa and the Pacific, by way of contrast, were not deemed ready to be independent nations, and their Mandatory powers were to "be responsible for [their] administration" rather than to "[render] administrative advice and assistance." The distinction could not be clearer.

2. Moreover, let us dispel any doubt for whose benefit an "independent nation" was to be established: the entire Mandate is about the Jews. And recognizing the "historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine" and "reconstituting their national home" and "facilitat[ing] Jewish immigration" and "encourag[ing]...close settlement by Jews on the land." To read the Mandate otherwise is to ignore the forest for the trees. (That said, as Dr. Kramer notes, the British left themselves plenty of textual leeway, and perhaps not surprisingly, sorely abused their fiduciary duties during administration of the Mandate.)

borhani said...

3. The triad of political, civil, and religious rights was granted only to the Jews. Hence, after laying out the political purpose for the Jews of the Mandate, the wording "it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine." Regardless of Curzon's self-contradictory statements to Millerand to secure his support at San Remo, the meaning could not be clearer: in the binding text, the civil and religious rights of non-Jews in Palestine are explicitly called out, whereas their political rights are not mentioned. By way of contrast, "the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country" are again explicitly called out. Why mention "political status" of Jews elsewhere, if not because the political status of Jews in Palestine was (already) made obvious by the preceding sentences? [Aside: Why were "rights" for Jews elsewhere not stated more explicitly as "civil and religious rights"? Simple brevity. The Mandate (and the Balfour Declaration) are models of concise writing (unlike my comments here!). None felt the need to repeat the obvious "civil and religious;" "rights" sufficed.]

4. It it undisputed that by 1922 the eastern border of the Mandate was at the Jordan river. Thus, at minimum, it is in accord with international law that Israel's eastern border is the Jordan river (cf. Bell & Kontorovich Palestine, Uti Possidetis Juris and the Borders of Israel). That case is made far stronger by the blatantly illegal, forceful invasion of Mandatory Palestine by Arab nations on May 15, 1948.

Surprisingly, Dr. Kramer nowhere mentions that UN General Assembly Resolution 181 is not legally binding. Only (certain) Security Council resolutions are. UNGA 181 was a non-binding recommendation (which Dr. Kramer does note). That recommendation became moribund upon outbreak of hostilities initiated by Arabs the next day, and a "dead letter" upon invasion of sovereign Arab nations on May 15, 1948.

In summary, despite the fascinating colonial intrigues that took place at San Remo, I think it is clear that the legal basis of Israel's claim to the entire territory of the Mandate for Palestine (west of the Jordan river) derives first and foremost from San Remo, which served to codify the non-binding Balfour Declaration and to incorporate it into the Covenant of the LoN and the Charter of the UN.

YMedad said...

Thanks

Yochanan Ezra ben Avraham said...

Israel, as an Indigenous body politic possesses Inalienable and Unalienable Sovereign Title over all of Eretz Yisrael by virtue of a continuous Jewish presence in the Land since King David established Yerushalayim as the Capital of the Kingdom of Yisrael – No amount of military force, attempts at (Arab/Islamic or Crusader) colonial dispossession, ethnic cleansing or terrorist guerrilla warfare can divest the Jewish Community of sovereign title to all of Eretz Yisrael since international law does not recognize acquisition of title by conquest!

Please read: Inalienable and Unalienable Sovereign Title to Eretz Yisrael

Moreover, because the Arabs of Palestinian extraction voted for Abdullah I of trans-Jordan to be their sovereign at the Jericho Conference of December 1948, and were “Collectively Naturalized” by Abdullah I, they cannot now claim a right to cede from the Hashemite Crown and claim a right to self-determinism over Sovereign Jewish territory.

See: Emerson, Self-Determination, 65 Am. J. INT’L L. 459, 465 (1971).


The Jewish right of self-determinism, self-government and “territorial integrity” throughout Eretz Yisrael (“Palestine”) is guaranteed by the Anglo-American Treaty of 1924; and was recognized by the San Remo Resolution of 1920 and consented to by the Arabs via the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement of 1919. (The Arabs [a foreign power having their origins in the Kingdom of the Hajaz] were guaranteed the right of self-determinism, self-government and “territorial integrity” [to wit INDEPENDENCE] in the Mandates for Mesopotamia (Iraq), Syria and Lebanon; while only Jews were guaranteed “POLITICAL RIGHTS” within the Mandate for Palestine!!!)


It would be a violation of Article 5 of the Mandate for Palestine and the Anglo-American Treaty of 1924 to give the PA/PLO sovereignty within Eretz Yisrael (Judea and Shomron/Samaria) as the Arabs are a “foreign power” by virtue of their origins in the Kingdom of the Hajaz and that Article stipulates that “the Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of the Government of any foreign Power.”


As it stands, it was a violation of Articles 5, 15, and 25 of the Mandate for Palestine to establish the Hashemites as a Kingdom within “Palestine” – this is because (a) the Hashemites are a “foreign power” (b) their constitution excludes Jews from acquisition of Jordanian citizenship and (c) the 25th Article by it’s terms only permits the administration of those [Jewish] territories on a temporary basis!


IMHO, the State of Israel should reach a trusteeship agreement with Jordan to hold the Jewish Tribal territories of Gad, Reuven and Manasseh (“the East Bank”) in trust just as the State of Israel holds Judea, Benjamin and Shomron/Samaria (“the West Bank”) in trust for the Jewish body politic (to wit: for The Kingdom of Eretz Yisrael).


The rights recognized and guaranteed to the Jewish Community by the San Remo Resolution (the Mandate for Palestine) do no expire merely because the Mandatory withdrew from it’s obligations and responsibilities under the Mandate. Those rights are secured by Article 80 of the UN Charter and the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

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