The Jewish People's Right to the Land of Israel

Read a concise summary of why continuous pressures to surrender parts of the Land of Israel are contrary to international law. Opinion.

Eli E. Hertz ,

United Nations headquarters
United Nations headquarters
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International Law – The "Mandate for Palestine"

Rewriting history by labeling the territories “Occupied Territories,” the Settlements as an “Obstacle to Peace” and “Not Legitimate,” empowers the world Powers and others with an aura of history, but it is false history.

The "Mandate for Palestine" an historical League of Nations document, laid down the Jewish legal right under international law to settle anywhere in western Palestine, the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, an entitlement unaltered in international law.

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 with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country."

On June 30, 1922, a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress of the United States unanimously endorsed the "Mandate for Palestine":

"Favoring the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.

"Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That the United States of America favors the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which should prejudice the civil and religious rights of Christian and all other non-Jewish communities in Palestine, and that the holy places and religious buildings and sites in Palestine shall be adequately protected." [Italics in the original]

Continuous pressure to surrender parts of the Land of Israel are contrary to international law as stated in the "Mandate for Palestine" an historical League of Nations document, that in article 6 firmly call to “encourage ... close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.” It also requires, under Article 5 of the Mandate to “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.”

Jewish Rights to Palestine Were Internationally Guaranteed

In the first Report by Sir Herbert Samuelof, the High Commissioner on the Administration of Palestine (1920-1925) presented to the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, published in April 1925, the most senior official of the Mandate, the High Commissioner for Palestine, underscored how international guarantees for the existence of a Jewish National Home in Palestine were achieved:

“The [Balfour] Declaration was endorsed at the time by several of the Allied Governments; it was reaffirmed by the Conference of the Principal Allied Powers at San Remo in 1920; it was subsequently endorsed by unanimous resolutions of both Houses of the Congress of the United States; it was embodied in the Mandate for Palestine approved by the League of Nations in 1922; it was declared, in a formal statement of policy issued by the Colonial Secretary in the same year, ‘not to be susceptible of change.’”

Law of War – Arab Unlawful Acts of Aggression in 1948

Six months before the War of Independence in 1948, Palestinian Arabs launched a series of riots, pillaging, and bloodletting.


International law makes it clear: All of Israel's wars with its Arab neighbors were in self-defence.
Then came the invasion of seven Arab armies from neighboring states attempting to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state in accordance with the UN's 1947 recommendation to Partition Palestine, a plan the Arabs rejected.

The Jewish state not only survived, it came into possession of territories - land from which its adversaries launched their first attempt to destroy the newly created State of Israel.

Israel's citizens understood that defeat meant the end of their Jewish state before it could even get off the ground. In the first critical weeks of battle, and against all odds, Israel prevailed on several fronts.

The metaphor of Israel having her back to the sea reflected the image crafted by Arab political and religious leaders' rhetoric and incitement. Already in 1948 several car bombs had killed Jews, and massacres of Jewish civilians underscored Arab determination to wipe out the Jews and their state.

6,000 Israelis died as a result of that war, in a population of 600,000. One percent of the Jewish population was gone. In American terms, the equivalent is 3 million American civilians and soldiers killed over an 18-month period.

Israel's War of Independence in 1948 was considered lawful and in self-defence as may be reflected in UN resolutions naming Israel a "peace loving State" when it applied for membership at the United Nations. Both the Security Council (4 March, 1949, S/RES/69) and the UN General Assembly (11 May, 1949, (A/RES/273 (III)) declared:

“[Security Council] Decides in its judgment that Israel is a peace-loving State and is able and willing to carry out the obligations contained in the Charter ..."

Arab Unlawful Acts of Aggression in 1967

In June 1967, the combined armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan attacked Israel with the clear purpose expressed by Egypt's President: "Destruction of Israel." At the end of what is now known as the Six-Day War, Israel, against all odds, was victorious and in possession of the territories of Judea and Samaria [E.H., The 'West Bank'], Sinai and the Golan Heights.

International law makes a clear distinction between defensive wars and wars of aggression. More than half a century after the 1948 War, and more than four decades since the 1967 Six-Day War, it is hard to imagine the dire circumstances Israel faced and the price it paid to fend off its neighbors' attacks.

Who Starts Wars Does Matter

Professor, Judge Stephen M. Schwebel, past President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) states the following facts:

"The facts of the June 1967 'Six Day War' demonstrate that Israel reacted defensively against the threat and use of force against her by her Arab neighbors. This is indicated by the fact that Israel responded to Egypt's prior closure of the Straits of Tiran, its proclamation of a blockade of the Israeli port of Eilat, and the manifest threat of the UAR's [The state formed by the union of the republics of Egypt and Syria in 1958] use of force inherent in its massing of troops in Sinai, coupled with its ejection of UNEF.

"It is indicated by the fact that, upon Israeli responsive action against the UAR, Jordan initiated hostilities against Israel. It is suggested as well by the fact that, despite the most intense efforts by the Arab States and their supporters, led by the Premier of the Soviet Union, to gain condemnation of Israel as an aggressor by the hospitable organs of the United Nations, those efforts were decisively defeated.

"The conclusion to which these facts lead is that the Israeli conquest of Arab and Arab-held territory was defensive rather than aggressive conquest."

Judge Sir Elihu Lauterpacht wrote in 1968, one year after the 1967 Six-Day War:

"On 5th June, 1967, Jordan deliberately overthrew the Armistice Agreement by attacking the Israeli-held part of Jerusalem. There was no question of this Jordanian action being a reaction to any Israeli attack. It took place notwithstanding explicit Israeli assurances, conveyed to King Hussein through the UN Commander, that if Jordan did not attack Israel, Israel would not attack Jordan.

“Although the charge of aggression is freely made against Israel in relation to the Six-Days War the fact remains that the two attempts made in the General Assembly in June-July 1967 to secure the condemnation of Israel as an aggressor failed. A clear and striking majority of the members of the U.N. voted against the proposition that Israel was an aggressor.”

“Israel Has the Better Title to the Territory of What Was Palestine, Including the Whole of Jerusalem”

International law makes it clear: All of Israel's wars with its Arab neighbors were in self-defence.

Professor, Judge Schwebel, past President of the International Court of Justice in the Hague (ICG) wrote in What Weight to Conquest:

"(a) a state [Israel] acting in lawful exercise of its right of self-defense may seize and occupy foreign territory as long as such seizure and occupation are necessary to its self-defense;

"(b) as a condition of its withdrawal from such territory, that State may require the institution of security measures reasonably designed to ensure that that territory shall not again be used to mount a threat or use of force against it of such a nature as to justify exercise of self-defense;

"(c) Where the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense has, against that prior holder, better title.

"As between Israel, acting defensively in 1948 and 1967, on the one hand, and her Arab neighbors, acting aggressively, in 1948 and 1967, on the other, Israel has the better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem, than do Jordan and Egypt."

"No Legal Right Shall Spring from a Wrong"

Professor Schwebel explains that the principle of "acquisition of territory by war is inadmissible" must be read together with other principles:

"Namely, that no legal right shall spring from a wrong, and the Charter principle that the Members of the United Nations shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State."

Simply stated: Arab illegal aggression against the territorial integrity and political independence of Israel, cannot and should not be rewarded.

Under international law Israel acted lawfully by exercising its right to self-defence when it redeemed and legally reoccupied Judea and Samaria, known also as the 'West Bank'.

Legalities aside, before 1967 there were no Jewish settlements in the 'West Bank', and for the first ten years of so-called occupation there were almost no Jews in the 'West Bank'. And still there was no peace with the Palestinian Arabs.

The notion that Jewish communities pose an obstacle to peace is a red herring designed to blame Israel for lack of progress in the 'Peace Process' and enable Palestinian Arab leadership to continue to reject any form of compromise and reconciliation with Israel as a Jewish state.

Eli E. Hertz is the president of Myths and Facts, an organization devoted to research and publication of information regarding US interests in the world and particularly in the Middle East. Mr. Hertz served as Chairman of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting.



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