20th Century International Recognition: Balfour, San Remo, The Mandate

Misleading: “The Balfour Declaration, San Remo and The Mandate Did Not ‘Give’ Jews The Right to a Homeland in Palestine and Was Prejudicial to the Arabs “

On November 2, 1917, Britain, in the midst of World War I and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, issued the Balfour Declaration, which states as follows:

  • His Majesty’s Government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice 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.

Emir Faisal, son of Sherif Hussein, the leader of the Arab revolt against the Turks, signed an agreement with Chaim Weizmann and other Zionist leaders during the 1919 Paris Peace Conference supporting the implementation of Balfour. It acknowledged the “racial kinship and ancient bonds existing between the Arabs and the Jewish people” and concluded that “the surest means of working out the consummation of their national aspirations is through the closest possible collaboration in the development of the Arab states and Palestine.”

Furthermore, the agreement called for all necessary measures “to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land through closer settlement and intensive cultivation of the soil.”

At the conclusion of World War I, the San Remo Conference in 1920 incorporated the language and intent of the Balfour Declaration. In 1922, the League of Nations did not “give” the Jewish people the right to its homeland. It recognized that right. The international community accepted the Balfour Declaration, as evident from its inclusion in the British Mandate for Palestine, which specifically referred to “the historical connections of the Jewish people with Palestine” and to the moral validity of “reconstituting their National Home in that country.” The term “reconstituting” shows recognition of the fact that Palestine had been the Jews’ home. Furthermore, the British were instructed to “use their best endeavours to facilitate” Jewish immigration, to encourage settlement on the land, and to “secure” the Jewish National Home. The word “Arab” does not appear in the award of the Mandate. The Mandate was formalized by the fifty-two governments at the League of Nations on July 24, 1922.

The Mandate, later incorporated into official documents of the United Nations, explicit recognized “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine” and “the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” The Mandate explicitly called for Jewish immigration and “close settlement by Jews on the land” (Article 6). Article 25 gave the Mandatory the right, with consent of the League, “to postpone or withhold application of” parts of the Mandate “in the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined [emphasis added],” which Britain promptly invoked to lop off the 78% east of the Jordan River as all-Arab Transjordan. Two-thirds of its citizens are “Palestinian Arabs.” The remaining 22% of the land in western Palestine was further divided into Jewish and another Arab area for future states.

So, to say that the Arabs were prejudiced or not given national and sovereign expression from the Mandate is inaccurate.

Britain soon infamously drastically restricted Jewish immigration and land ownership in Palestine west of the Jordan, before and during World War II when Jews were being totally annihilated in Europe, and even after the War. “In 1939, The Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations protested Britain’s ‘White Paper’ in August. Four out of the seven members intended to strike down the restrictive White Paper as a violation of the Mandate of Palestine. But WWII intervened in the few days before the League was to review the matter.”
www.eretzyisroel.org/~jkatz/return.html, “Britain’s role in bringing in illegal Arabs and keeping out Jews, trying to create an artificial Arab majority in Palestine 1920-1948, “citing (fn 23, Bethell, Palestine Triangle, pp. 69-71)