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Op-Ed: Israel's Legal Sovereignty in Palestine

Interview with Dr. Jacques Gauthier, non-Jewish legal researcher: "I have spent 20 years investigating the legal aspects of sovereignty concerning Jerusalem."
Published: Monday, December 23, 2013 9:35 AM



In international law, once the title to Palestine was given to the Jewish people, this cannot be nullified retroactively as a result of the introduction of new principles of international law several decades later.
“Declarations relating to the status of Jerusalem should clearly distinguish between the legal aspects of the issue and political claims. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and other political leaders frequently employ baseless legal arguments when they make statements concerning Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem and the "West Bank".

“I have spent 20 years investigating the legal aspects of sovereignty concerning Jerusalem. My unequivocal conclusion is that according to international law, Israel has a well-founded claim to sovereignty over Jerusalem, including its Old City.”

Dr. Gauthier is a non-Jewish Canadian lawyer who received his PhD after twenty years of research on the legal status of Jerusalem. His dissertation comprises some 1,300 pages with 3,000 footnotes. He has served as legal counsel to various governments including France, Spain, Mexico and Canada.

“The Balfour Declaration was a statement by the British government.

"In November 1917, Great Britain however, did not have military control or the legal authority to give rights over Palestine to others. 

“To understand the legality of Israel’s sovereignty in Palestine, we have to begin with the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 which took place at the French Foreign Office on the Quai d’Orsay. Both Arabs and the Zionist Organization presented their cases concerning the future of Palestine there. The Zionist Organization asked for the recognition of ‘the historic title of the Jewish people in Palestine and the right of Jews to reconstitute their national home.’ It demanded that the borders of Palestine – for which a map was presented – broadly follow the biblical territory on both sides of the Jordan River.

"It proposed that ‘the sovereignty of Palestine shall be vested in the League of Nations and the government will be entrusted to Great Britain acting as Mandatory of the League.’

“The Paris Conference led to various treaties with nations defeated in the First World War. They transferred title of many territories they had lost in the war to the five Principal Allied and Associated Powers, the United States, the British Empire, France, Italy and Japan.

“The Paris Conference was followed by the San Remo Conference, which took place in April 1920 at the Villa Devachan. There, the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers adopted a resolution on 25 April concerning Palestine. It stated that its administration would be entrusted to a Mandatory which they would select.

"It also said: ‘The Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on the 8th [2nd] November 1917 by the British government and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favor 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] the Jews in any other country'.

"This resolution is the legal foundation of the rights under the Law of Nations granted to the Jewish people in respect to Palestine.'

“In San Remo, the Principal Allied Powers approved British mandates over Palestine including Trans-Jordan, (East-Palestine) and Iraq, as well as the French Mandate over Syria and Lebanon. The Arabs acquired huge territories as a result of the San Remo Conference.

"However, there were crucial differences in the texts of the Mandate treaties for Syria and Lebanon, as well as the one for the Mesopotamia (Iraq) Mandate on one hand and the Mandate for Palestine on the other. In the former, it said that the organic law will be ‘formed in agreement with the native authorities and shall take into account the rights, interests and wishes of all the population inhabiting the mandated territory.’ In the Mandate for Palestine, there is no such formula. It stated that the Mandatory will be responsible for creating the conditions to ‘secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home.’

"It also said that recognition was given ‘to the historical connection of the Jewish People within Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.’

“The Council of League of Nations approved the British and French Mandates in July 1922. In the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, Turkey renounced all rights and title on the aforementioned territories.

"In international law, once the title to Palestine was given to the Jewish people, this cannot be nullified retroactively as a result of the introduction of new principles of international law several decades later.

"In fact, the rights granted to the Jewish people are protected under Article 80 of the UN Charter. This preserves intact all the rights granted to Jews under the Mandate for Palestine, even after the Mandate’s expiry in May 1948.”