The League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.

By Fabian Vaksman. Historian/Legal analyst

There is a substantial lack of clarity with respect to the question of the international law of The Mandate Palestine. It would therefore help if we could put it all in perspective in so many words.

The World War One ended with the Treaty of Versailles, 1919, that, inter alia, established The Mandates system that took charge of the former German colonies around the world, and, further, stipulated dissolution of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The whole Ottoman Empire had to be dissolved, and the issue on the legal agenda was How this should be done.

The League of Nations (LoN), based in Geneva, Switzerland, that was formed subsequent to the Versailles peace treaty, had issued the Mandates for Syria and Lebanon to France, which the French enforced militarily against the Arabs at very high cost in blood and tresure, whereas the Mandates for Palestine and Mesopatamia (Iraq) went to Britain. The United States did not join the League, and had no say in The Mandates system.

At the time of issuance, the land of a Mandate territory technically belonged to the League of Nations. The Mandatories of England, France, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were the caretaker governments retained to administer the territories on behalf of the League. They were mandated to prepare the territories for eventual independence.

Specifically, the 1922 LoN Mandate for Palestine called for the British implementation of the 1917 Balfour Declaration and legally established the “national home for the Jewish people” in The Mandate Palestine. The League policy on the subject was unequivocal: it’s The Jewish National Home! Res Judicata! Chose jugee! No back-pedalling of any kind!

The whole of The Mandate Palestine with the capital in Jerusalem that included the territory of what is today’s Jordan, was clearly designated by the League of Nations for the Jewish National Home, and fully authorized the Jewish settlement throughout the land. The Jewish immigrants who had arrived therein pursuant to The Mandate, who had lived there for 2 years and spoke Hebrew, were entitled to receive a Palestinian passport.

In 1925, Britain had icriminally issued a so-called Transjordan Memorandum that disallowed the Jewish settlement to the East of the Jordan river. Since this was never a British territory and Britain was no more than a caretaker government of what was legally established as the Jewish National Home, the British government had no right to separate the East bank from it.

Furthermore, back in 1937, the British tried to establish a Legislative Council in the Western part of The Mandate Palestine that would give the power in the land to the Arab majority to thus stop Jewish immigration and block the Jewish escape from the Nazis. The matter came before the League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission which held that the international law on the Jewish National Home takes absolute precedence over anything else, and that while the Arabs can have religious and civil rights, they do NOT have political rights therein, and certainly not in any way that may interfere with the LoN policy on the Jewish National Home.

The British policy of restricting the Jewish immigration to Palestine was illegal in every way. Britain defied the League and prevented Jewish immigration to Palestine in defiance of the ianternational law until it gave up the Mandate with the establishment of the State of Israel.

In 1945, the United Nations Organization, in its foundation Charter, enacted Article 80(1) thereof which stipulated that the international rights that were in effect before the UN was formed – such as the Jewish right of settlement in The Mandate Palestine – will be preserved for continuity into the UN era. In November of 1947, the UN assembly voted for partition of Western Palestine into the Jewish and Arab state. The illegal Jordan seized and annexed the West Bank thereof. In June 1967, Jordan had been evicted from the West Bank, and in 1988 it gave up all claims thereto (as if it had them in the first place).

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