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by Alex Rose


"The more things change, the more things stay the same"

THE SAN REMO RESOLUTION WAS PROCLAIMED ON APRIL 25, 1920 and consequently we have recently celebrated its 90th anniversary. To that end, on 24-25 April, 2010, the European Coalition for Israel conducted a number of educational seminars delivered by Eli Hertz [US] and Soloman Benzimra [Canada] which was followed by a ceremony at the same house in San Remo where the signing of the original declaration occurred.[Note 1.]

The European Coalition for Israel was founded in Brussels in 2003. It is a joint initiative by grass-roots major international Christian pro-Israel organizations with an EU-liaison office in Brussels and has partners in most EU member states. Its principal function is to promote positive relations between Europe and Israel, to commemorate the Holocaust and to fight anti-Semitism.

What needs to be appreciated is that Fifty-One member countries — the entire League of Nations — unanimously declared on July 24, 1922, "Whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country". In other words, as Winston Churchill informed in June, 1922, "It is essential that it [the Jewish people] should know that it is in Palestine as of right and not on sufferance". This response to the Arab assertion that they are being penalized for the Holocaust sins of others [Germans, Poles etc.] extends well beyond rhetoric.

It is equally important to point out that political rights to self-determination as a polity for Arabs, was guaranteed by the same League of Nations in other mandates — in Lebanon and Syria [The French Mandate], Iraq, and later Trans-Jordan [The British Mandate].

A summary of the key points issued at the conclusion of the commemoration follows:

  1. Reaffirming the importance of the San Remo Resolution of April 25, 1920 — which included the Balfour declaration in its entirety — in shaping the map of the modern Middle East, as agreed upon by the Supreme Council of the principal Allied Powers [Britain, France, Italy, Japan, and the United States acting as an observer], and later approved unanimously by the League of nations; the resolution remains irrevocable, legally binding and valid to this day.

  2. Emphasizing that the San Remo Resolution of 1920 recognized the exclusive national Jewish rights to the Land of Israel under international law, on the strength of the historical connection of the Jewish people to the territory previously known as Palestine.

  3. Recalling that such a seminal event as the San Remo Conference of 1920 has been forgotten or ignored by the community of nations, and that the rights it conferred upon the Jewish people have been unlawfully dismissed, curtailed and denied.

  4. Asserting that a just and lasting peace, leading to the acceptance of secure and recognized borders between all States in the region, can only be achieved by recognizing the long established rights of the Jewish people under international law.

The outcome of the San Remo declaration gave birth to the "Mandate for Palestine", an historical League of Nations document that laid down the Jewish legal right to settle anywhere in western Palestine, 10,000 square miles, the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

Any attempt to negate the Jewish people's right to Palestine-Eretz Israel, and to deny them access and control over the area designated for the Jewish people by the League of Nations is a serious infringement of international law.

Dr. Jacques Gauthier,[Note 2] a practicing international lawyer and scholar was one of many significant participants in the 90th anniversary conference. He is the author of "Whose Jerusalem is it? Exploring Sovereignty Claims to an Ancient City". He is a Canadian Lawyer, who recently received a PhD following twenty years of research on the legal status of Jerusalem and the writing of the given dissertation of some 1300 pages with 3000 footnotes. He had to present his thesis to a panel of two leading international lawyers and one world famous Jewish historian. The reason for so many footnotes was to enable him to defend his thesis from intense attack by one of the lawyers who happened to be a Jewish anti-Zionist and who had represented the PA on numerous occasions. Gauthier is not Jewish. Although the work of Dr. Gauthier is focused on Jerusalem, much of what it contains is applicable to all of the Land of Israel. Ted Belman has provided a superb summation of the factual thesis as presented below:

  1. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 started the whole process but it didn't create international legal rights.

  2. The San Remo decision made on 25 April 1920, incorporated the Balfour Declaration of 1917[2] and Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. It was the basic decision upon which the Mandate for Palestine was constructed. While the decision made at San Remo created the Palestine Mandate de facto, the mandate document signed by Great Britain as the Mandatory and the League of Nations made it de jure. It thus became a binding treaty in international law.
    The High Contracting Parties agree to entrust, by application of the provisions of Article 22, the administration of Palestine, within such boundaries as may be determined by the Principal Allied Powers, to a Mandatory, to be selected by the said Powers. The Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 8, 1917, by the British Government, and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, 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.

    He pointed out that the Arabs weren't even mentioned but that civil and religious rights only were accorded other inhabitants . This thereby excludes political rights.

  3. Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations provides for the creation of mandates.
    To those colonies and territories which as a consequence of the late war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which formerly governed them and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world, there should be applied the principle that the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilisation and that securities for the performance of this trust should be embodied in this Covenant.

    The legal significance here is that "the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilisation". The Mandatory Power was the trustee of that trust.

  4. The Palestine Mandate of the League of Nations, included the following significant recital,
    "Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country;

    This had never happened before in history. Palestine was to be held for the Jewish people wherever they lived. No such recognition had ever been according to anyone else, anywhere, ever.

    ART. 2. The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion.

    Thus the operative clause specifically referred to the preamble and reiterated that there were no political rights for other inhabitants.

    ART. 5. 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.

    ART. 6. The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.

  5. The United Nations took over from the failed League of Nations in 1945 and its Charter included
    Article: 80 .. nothing in this Chapter 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 existing international instruments to which Members of the United Nations may respectively be parties.

    Thus the Palestine Mandate continued without change.

  6. In 1947, the General Assembly of the UN passed Res 181 which became known as the Partition Plan pursuant to which both Jews and Arabs could announce their state.


First it must be noted that the Charter of the UN specifically gave no power to the General Assembly because that would infringe on the sovereign power of individual members. So the GA could recommend only. Secondly, this recommendation was in violation of the terms of the Mandate. See Art 5 above.

This resolution also provided for a Special Regime for Jerusalem which had the following defined boundaries,

A. SPECIAL REGIME. The City of Jerusalem shall be established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations. The Trusteeship Council shall be designated to discharge the responsibilities of the Administering Authority on behalf of the United Nations.

B. BOUNDARIES OF THE CITY. The City of Jerusalem shall include the present municipality of Jerusalem plus the surrounding villages and towns, the most eastern of which shall be Abu Dis; the most southern, Bethlehem; the most western, 'Ein Karim (including also the built-up area of Motsa); and the most northern Shu'fat, as indicated on the attached sketch-map (annex B).

But this regime was to be limited in time. It was not to be an "international city" for all time as we have been lead to believe.

The Statute elaborated by the Trusteeship Council

The aforementioned principles shall come into force not later than 1 October 1948. It shall remain in force in the first instance for a period of ten years, unless the Trusteeship Council finds it necessary to undertake a re-examination of these provisions at an earlier date. After the expiration of this period the whole scheme shall be subject to examination by the Trusteeship Council in the light of experience acquired with its functioning. The residents the City shall be then free to express by means of a referendum their wishes as to possible modifications of regime of the City.

This provision for a referendum was of critical importance to the acceptance of Res 181 by Ben Gurion. He knew that the Jews were in a majority within these boundaries and would be in 10 years when the referendum was to be held. Thus he was confident that Jerusalem would return to Jewish hands.

One should realize that the disposition of this area was to be determined not by Israel but by the residents of Jerusalem so defined. Currently the Jews have a 2:1 majority there.

Needless to say that after the Armistice Agreement of '49, the Jordanians, who were in control of Jerusalem violated every provision of this resolution which among other things, specified respect for holy places. The referendum never took place.

After the '67 war in which Israel regained the land to the Jordan including Jerusalem, Res 242 of the Security Council was passed authorizing Israel to remain in possession of all the land until they had "secure and recognized boundaries". It did not require Israel to withdraw from all of the territories and it was silent on Jerusalem.

Additionally, it "Affirms further the necessity for achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem". There was no reference to Res 181 nor was there a distinction made between Jewish and Arab refugees.

By virtue of this preamble

"Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine in the Mandate, the United Nations, the League's successor, recognition has been given to the Jewish historical rights to reconstitute their national home in Palestine." That's Zionism. "Zion" is Jerusalem.

Thus the UN had recognized Jerusalem as the home of the Jewish people.

In his book, A Place among the Nations — Israel and the World, Benjamin Netanyahu chronicles events following San Remo and draws attention to certain associated issues, as follows:

1920 - San Remo Conference grants Britain Mandate over Palestine with the aim of encouraging immigration and settlement of Jews and establishment of a Jewish National Home. During the same year, British officials instigate Arab riots in Palestine. Rioters demand end to Jewish immigration and incorporation of Palestine into Syria.

1921 — British decide to install Abdullah in Transjordan [eastern Palestine]. British Administration appoints Haj Amin al-Husseini Grand Mafti in Palestine. Arab riots in Palestine.

1922 — League of Nations officially ratifies British Mandate over Palestine with aim of building Jewish National Home. British cut away Transjordan from Palestine.

1929 — Arab riots in Palestine. Massacre of Jews in Hebron and Safed. Arabs demand end to immigration.

1930 — British White Paper limits Jewish immigration to Palestine.

1933 — Hitler comes to power in Germany.

The above sequence of events clearly shows a pattern of Arab reaction to appeasement and British betrayal from San Remo until the rise of Hitler.

Among the points penned by Netanyahu are the reactions of notable historical characters during the events which followed on from San Remo. Apparently, Lloyd George was outraged by the claim that the Arabs had somehow been treated unfairly in Palestine and elsewhere.

"No race has done better out of the fidelity with which the Allies redeemed the promises to the oppressed races than the Arabs. Owing to tremendous sacrifices of the Allied Nations, and more particularly of Britain and her Empire, the Arabs have already won independence in Iraq, Arabia, Syria, and trans-Jordania, although most of the Arab races fought throughout the War for the Turkish oppressors--- [in particular] the Palestinian Arabs fought for Turkish rule".

South Africa's General Smuts, a great Christian Zionist and a member of the British War cabinet who was responsible for Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations contained in the Treaty of Versailles, recalled the views of the British Cabinet in deciding to favor a Jewish homeland in Palestine as follows:

"It was naturally assumed that large scale immigration of Jews into their historic homeland could not and would not be looked upon as a hostile gesture to the highly favored Arab people ---- [who,] largely as a result of British action, came out better from the Great War than any other people."

The recognition of Jewish rights was most elegantly championed in 1921 by Lloyd George's one time protégé, Winston Churchill.

"It is manifestly right that the scattered Jews should have a national centre and a national home to be re-united, and where else but in Palestine, with which for three thousand years they have been intimately and profoundly associated? We think it will be good for the world, good for the Jews, good for the British Empire, but also good for the Arabs who dwell in Palestine ... they shall share in the benefits and progress of Zionism."

Churchill responded to the Arabs who protested against the Jews purchasing land in Palestine and settling there in this manner:

"No one has harmed you ... the Jews have a far more difficult task than you. You have only to enjoy your own possession; but they have to create out of wilderness, out of the barren places, a livelihood for the people they bring in."
Attacked in the House of Commons for granting the Jews concessions for hydro-electric projects on the Jordan River, Churchill said:
"I am told the Arabs would have done it for themselves. Who is going to believe that? Left to themselves, the Arabs of Palestine would not in a thousand years have taken effective steps towards the irrigation and electrification of Palestine. They would have been quite content to dwell-----a handful of philosophic people-----in the wasted sun-scorched plains, letting the waters of the Jordan continue to flow unbridled and unharnessed into the Dead Sea."


FOLLOWING THE DEATH OF ABBA EBAN IN 2002, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Foreign Minister at the time, had this to say; "With his prodigious intellect and renowned eloquence , Abba Eban was not only one of Israel's finest diplomats, but also one of the great diplomats of his era. He was a powerful advocate for the Jewish State and for the rights of the Jewish People. Eban set the standard for defending Israel in the courts of world opinion. During many difficult periods, his voice was a stirring reminder of the justice of the Zionist cause and Israel's eternal hope to live in peace with its neighbors. Through years of dedicated service, he laid the foundations for Israel's Foreign Service and proved that even though we are a small nation, our moral voice can be heard loud and clear across the world."

Abba Eban's greatest speeches to the UN are considered to be those which addressed the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War. In fact, in considering contemporary times, his address to the UN General Assembly's Special Political Committee on November 17, 1958 was perhaps the most remarkable and meaningful. Interestingly, it coincided with the 10th year anniversary of the State of Israel.

Fifty two years later, the same key issues continue to elude resolution. The difference however is the disturbing manifestation in terms of Israeli government acceptance of Arab positions. Eban, hardly a card carrying member of any right wing party, proposed positions which had they been followed, could have avoided the morass which has befallen us. At the outset, he made perfectly clear that, "If there had been no war against Israel, with its consequent harvest of bloodshed, misery, panic and flight, there would be no problem of Arab refugees today." Thus, the Arab governments' war initiative was directly responsible for the emergence of the refugee tragedy. To support this view, Abba Eban quoted admissions by various Arab leaders. Their intentions were lucidly defined by Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League; "This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades." Other Arab leaders quoted, who confirmed Arab responsibility, included Emile Ghoury, secretary of the Arab Higher Committee and Msgr. George Hakini, the Greek Catholic Archbishop of Galilee.

Mentioned also was the survey by the Research Group for European Migration Problems, Bulletin, Vol. V, No. 1, 1957, which stated, "As early as the first months of 1948, the Arab League issued orders exhorting the people to seek a temporary refuge in the neighboring countries, later to return to their abodes in the wake of victorious Arab armies and obtain their share of abandoned Jewish property". This document, in addition to that of the United Nations Palestine Commission 1948, surely speaks volumes to the refugee problem. The latter notes that" — powerful Arab interests, both inside and outside Palestine, are defying the resolution of General Assembly and are engaged in a deliberate effort to alter by force the settlement envisaged therein".

Having identified the problem of refugees, Eban moves onto its resolution. He "introduces" the concept of what came to be much maligned when used by others and in particular, by Rabbi Meir Kahane. In engaging the subject of transfer, Abba Eban remarked; "Indeed, compared with other problems, the Arab refugee problem is one of the easiest to solve".

He spoke of the failure or refusal of Arab governments to achieve a permanent economic integration of refugees in their huge lands appearing all the more remarkable when we contrast it with the achievements of other countries when confronted by the challenge and opportunity of absorbing their kinsmen into their midst. Emphasizing transfer, Eban made extensive reference to Arab countries where no differences exist between the society and the culture of the host country and those with which the refugees were already familiar. He draws attention to the hundreds and thousands of Arab refugees in Arab lands on the soil of their kinsmen where they have been "nourished for ten years on one single theme — hatred of Israel; refusal to recognize Israel's sovereignty, resentment against Israel's existence, [and] the dream of securing Israel's extinction".

Spanning history, Abba Eban pointed to the successful integration of worldwide refugees into host countries including the 450,000 Jews into Israel who had been expelled from Arab countries. He absolutely refuted any idea of repatriation, i.e., return of Arab refugees to Israel. That Israel already confronted by states surrounding her should have added to her peril masses of people steeped in the hatred of her existence, whose flag they despise and whose destruction they are resolved to seek was obviously out of the question.

Abba Eban's concluding statement while referring to the Arab refugees coupled to his language of commonality, "---the closest possible affinities of national sentiment, language, religion, and social organization with the Arab host countries" does lend itself to universal argument. "With its expanse of territory, its great rivers, its resources of mineral wealth, and its accessibility to international aid, the Arab world is easily capable of absorbing an additional population, not only without danger to itself, but with actual reinforcement of its security and welfare."

Caroline Glick in her piece, "Israel and the Palestinians: ending the Stalemate" published in the Fall 2008 — Number 15 edition of The Journal of International Security Affairs concluding statement reads as follows. "Israeli territorial claims to the lands it took control over in 1967 are not the root cause of the conflict with the Palestinians. Rather, Palestinian and wider Arab rejection of Israel's right to exist is the cause." Indeed, it is readily recognizable that from 1964-7, prior to the "occupation", this assertion applies equally. Ms. Glick argues that Israeli and US policies have failed primarily because of their being based on the false narrative of Israeli culpability. One would have to add that it is self evident that for every Israeli concession there has been a negative reaction. How much greater an effort at "giving peace a chance" is conceivable beyond the Gaza withdrawal?

Reasonability would suggest agreement with Caroline Glick that the time has come to reassess the state of affairs and to develop policies based on the true nature of the conflict. The writer would contend that the international legislation following on from the San Remo Conference and the arguments presented by Abba Eban provide considerable salvo to that end.


1.Abba Eban: The Refugee Problem — Excerpts from a UN speech on November 17, 1958.
2.Eli Hertz — Myths & Facts.
3.Howard Grief — NATIV Vol.2/24.
4.Benjamin Netanyahu - A Place Among the Nations.


Note 1. Then and Now photos of the event can be found in Appendix 1 of Chweiden, "History of Jewish Sovereignty Over Israel Over Years," Click here.

Note 2. Jacques Gauthier's thesis is a most complete and well-reasoned argument why Jerusalem belongs to Israel. It is also 1300 pages long. Several sites discuss it. One is the SustainabiliTank website. To read the article by Pincas Jawetz on it, click here.

Ted Belman's has posted his notes on a lecture he attended given by Mr. Gauthier on Docstalk: Jacques Gauthier, "Minutes of San Remo Conference," Belman's notes.

An informative TV interview with Jacques Gauthier entitled "Who owns Jerusalem" is here.

Note 3. In addition to the above References, Wallace Edward Brand, "Israeli Sovereignty over Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria" is a well-reasoned essay which includes material on San Remo and the Balfour Declaration. Read it here.

Alex Rose is an engineering consultant. He was formerly on the Executive of Americans for a Safe Israel and a founding member of CAMERA New York. He made Aliyah in 2003 and now resides in Ashkelon. Contact him at This article was submitted June 6,2010.


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