International Law – Who Says?

What is the meaning of “international law,” the term that is often used as a weapon against Israel by its enemies – and even some of its friends? Let’s find out…

Just as Israel’s unity government is set to get underway, France has warned Israel of serious consequences – if Israel extends civil law to its citizens living beyond the 1949 Armistice Line (NOT a border):
“France threatened to change the nature of its ties with Israel, should the nascent government annex parts of the West Bank, in Ambassador to the UN Nicolas de Rivière’s remarks to the Security Council on Thursday.
De Rivière said that annexation ‘would constitute a blatant violation of international law, which strictly prohibits the acquisition by force of occupied territories. Such steps if implemented would not pass unchallenged and shall not be overlooked in our relationship with Israel,’ the French ambassador added.”
Lahav Harkov jpost.com 4/24/20

What is this “international law?” A simple, but revealing, definition of international law defines it as the body of rules that nations generally recognize as binding in their conduct toward one another. While there are a myriad of more complex definitions, it’s the “generally recognize” (read arbitrary) aspect that explains why condemnation of Israel for “occupying” its own homeland is a blatant case of Jew-hatred coupled with ill-considered realpolitik. Fundamentally, nations arbitrarily define what international law is; there are no unchangeable, incontrovertible, written “commandments” to follow. This leads to the reverse of what international law should be: a rational system of behavior that free countries adhere to.

Unfortunately, the EU, the UN, and others have chosen to take an antagonistic stance against Israelis and favoring the Palestinian Arabs, regarding what formerly was the British Mandate for Palestine (1922-1948). If one searches for validation to cement this view, the best place to look is early in the 20th century, when the Balfour Declaration and the San Remo Conference occurred. Lord Balfour was a Christian Zionist who held high office in Britain, serving in Prime Minister Lloyd George’s government. With George’s approval and the approval of the major Western powers not fighting Germany and the Central Powers in WWI, Balfour’s 1917 declaration called for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine (which at that point included all of today’s Jordan) with national, civil, and political rights for Jews and civil and political rights for Arabs – but not national ones.

One hundred years ago, following the defeat of Germany and the Ottoman Turks in the “Great War,” Britain, France, and Italy (with other lesser countries) convened the San Remo Conference; the US attended as a bystander. Israeli Ambassador Dore Gold, currently president of Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), writes that the conference produced, “…the system of Arab states on the one hand and the emergence of a ‘national home’ for the Jewish peoples on the other…. San Remo converted the Balfour Declaration into a binding international treaty, setting the stage for the League of Nations British Mandate for Palestine that was approved in 1922. It has been noted that at San Remo, Jewish historic rights became Jewish legal rights.

“Were these legal rights of the Jewish people superseded in subsequent years? At the time that the UN charter was drafted in 1945, officials were cognizant that this argument might be raised in the future. They therefore incorporated Article 80 [See Appendix] into the UN Charter, stating specifically that, ‘nothing in this charter shall be construed in or of itself to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples or the terms of international instruments to which Member of the United Nations may respectively be parties.’” Simply put, the UN unequivocally accepted the unchangeable conclusions of the San Remo Conference.(100 years since the San Remo Conference, Jerusalem Post, 4/25/2020)

The EU and the UN (not to mention many diplomats, the media, and the public) have forgotten the 1920 San Remo Conference, either intentionally or not. Nevertheless, there has been no repeal of the right of Jews in the Mandate territory, which became the Jewish State of Israel in May 1948, after the Jews won a defensive war against five Arab invading armies. The Arabs, the UN, the EU and others have made up a new standard of international law which they arbitrarily apply solely to Israel. And/or, they misconstrue other tenets of international law, such as the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. (see YouTube presentation by Amb. Alan Baker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZetBctjYSw)

So what’s the rationale for France, Ireland, Belgium and other countries, plus the EU and UN and all their institutions, claiming that Israel is “occupying” parts of the former British Mandate for Palestine? Realpolitik. There are far more Arabs than Jews in the world, by a factor of 28:1 (425 million v 15 million). Add to that Arab oil reserves, which countries like Japan and China rely on. Plus, there’s unending Jew-hatred, which the Europeans have specialized in for millennia.

To summarize, Israel is the homeland of the Jews, legally and otherwise. While Europeans and others threaten Israel for exerting sovereignty in its homeland, Israel retains historic and legal rights, in addition to military control and its deed of ownership – the Bible. In the meantime, Israel must contend with many anti-Israel regulations, which arbitrarily make new, unjust laws and regulations against Israel. Conclusively, Israel is not an occupier of its own land.

Appendix
It should be common knowledge that under the Mandate, all of Palestine was reserved exclusively for the establishment of the Jewish National Home and future independent Jewish State, as was previously decided at the San Remo Peace Conference that took place in April 1920. Or put another way, no part of Palestine was allotted for an Arab National Home or state, since Arab self-determination was being generously granted elsewhere – in Syria, Iraq, Arabia, Egypt and North Africa – which has led to the establishment of the 21 Arab states of today, over a vast land mass from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean. There is thus no necessity for a new independent Arab State in the specific area of former Mandated Palestine reserved for Jewish self-determination, most particularly, in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Creating such a state out of Jewish land would be blatantly illegal under Article 80 of the UN Charter and beyond the legal authority of the UN itself.
(By the late legal expert Howard Grief, quoted here: https://johnmhummasti.wordpress.com/2016/10/07/article-80-of-the-un-charter/)

About the Author
Steve Kramer grew up in Atlantic City, graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1967, adopted the hippie lifestyle until 1973, then joined the family business for 15 years. Steve moved to Israel from Margate, NJ in 1991 with his family. He has written more than 1100 articles about Israel and Jews since making Aliyah. Steve and his wife Michal live in Kfar Saba.
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