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ONE HUNDRED YEARS LATER: COMMEMORATING THE BALFOUR DECLARATION’S VALIDATION OF THE JEWISH HOMELAND

By: Dave Gordon



The Wailing Wall, the Temple Mount, and Jerusalem apparently don’t belong to the Jewish people.

So ruled the United Nations Security Council in late December.

In fact, Jews have no legal right to those holy places, or the West Bank, according to Resolution 2334, which states they are “occupied
Palestinian territory.”

Fourteen nations voted in favor of Resolution 2334 in the Security Council and the US abstained from voting it down.

Those who have denounced President Barack Obama’s “parting shot”at Israel include his former special envoy for Mideast peace, George Mitchell, 88 US Republican and Democratic senators and an overwhelming majority of Congress. Apologists for Obama argue previous presidents also abstained or voted against Israel at the UN. But Resolution 2334 stands out qualitatively.

Obama is the only President who’s acquiesced to wiping out all Jewish connection to what is historically, legally, geographically, and religiously Jewish. The Jewish people have a 3,000-year religious and historical connection to the land.

The issue takes on more significance given this year’s milestones: It’s been 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, 70 years since the Partition Plan of 1947, and 50 years since Israel won Judea and Samaria in the
Six-Day War of 1967.

With today’s ongoing disputes over territory, it’s important to know who owns what – and who should own what – as established via solid, legally binding agreements. Many, if not most of these historical contracts would make United Nations rulings on the topic null and void.

One scholar has spent the better part of his adult life investigating the matter. After 25 years of research, Dr. Jacques P. Gauthier has concluded that the entire area of Jerusalem, as well as the entire West Bank, legally belongs to the Jewish people.”It is a complex puzzle with 10,000 pieces. You really have to understand the claims to know who owns what. There are so many relevant historical facts,” he says.

Gauthier, who is not Jewish, completed a 1,000-page doctoral thesis (with 3,200 footnotes), successfully defended in 2006, published in 2007, and confirmed by The Graduate Institute of International Studies, linked to the University of Geneva. He is also vice-chair of the board of directors of Canada’s International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development.

Archeologically speaking, Gauthier noted that Jews’ rule of Jerusalem goes back three millennia, and we’ve had a Temple present there at least 2,000 years ago. “If anyone questions it ... Iinvite them to Rome, to see the Arco di Tito(the Arc of Titus), the depiction of sacred Temple instruments, carried by Jewish captives in Rome.”

It’s interesting to note that since Islam began 1,300 years ago, various occupiers have governed this area (Syrian, Egyptian, Turkish, Jordanian, etc.) but not one Islamic conqueror sought to make Jerusalem its capital, or create any kind of “national homeland.”

In modernity, many people point to Great Britain’s Balfour Declaration of 1917 as the principle document that validates the Jewish homeland. The problem is, it was issued by one state, and not legally ratified, according to Gauthier. “It’s mistakenly treated as though it was an edict from the world,” he says.

However, starting in 1919 after the First WorldWar ended, discussions took place surrounding the status of the territories of defeated nations. Gathering in France, at the Quai d’Orsay, five main Allied powers carved up the Ottoman Empire, which had stretched along the Mediterranean and Middle East. “Something changed after World War One. They took away title from the defeated nations,” Gauthier relays.

A Zionist delegation, led by Chaim Weizmann, and the Hashemite family (who was the ruling family of pan-Arabia at the time) met to decide to whom the land within and surrounding, Palestine belonged. As Gauthier explains, Faisal bin Al Hussein, considered the spokesman for both the Hashemites and the Arab world at the time, negotiated with Weizmann, eventually hammering out a written deal.
Faisal agreed to support the Zionist claim of Palestine, including what is now known as Israel proper, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Trans-Jordan (now Jordan). In return, Weizmann agreed to recognize Syria and Iraq as Arab territory.

The legal world powers of the day – the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan – authored and signed the Treaty of Trianon in 1920, honoring the Faisal-Weizmann deal. In a
follow-up meeting at St. Remo, on the Italian Riviera, in April 1920, the 51-member League of Nations further approved the deal, in the Treaty of Sévres. In it, there is no legal ambiguity, and the document even touts the Jewish “historical connection,” as grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.

Unfortunately, in 1921, due to “political pressures,” Great Britain decided to go against the legal agreement and cede Trans-Jordan
to the Arabs. Adding insult to injury, in 1939, the British White Paper restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. “Britain betrayed the legal standing of the Allied Council in numerous ways,” asserts Gauthier.

After World War II, the land dispute arose once again as the successor of the League of Nations, the United Nations, weighed in on ownership. The UN proposed General Assembly Resolution 181, the Partition Plan of 1947 that called for Jews and Arabs to share Palestine – a plan to which Jews agreed but the Arab delegation did not. “It was just a ‘plan’ and not law. Both parties had to agree to it for it to be binding,” Gauthier clarifies. On April 3, 1949, after Israel’s War of Independence, an armistice agreement was signed, with no motion tabled to amend the legal standing of the Holy Land from existing treaties. “No one ever revoked or annulled previous agreements,” says Gauthier.

Meanwhile, Jordan annexed the West Bank, claiming it without legal basis, while the demarcation border with Israel became known as the Green Line. “The Green Line comes up as though it is some magical law,” Gauthier says. “It is only an armistice line; never intended to be any legal or sacred border.” Between the late 1940s and 1967, Jordan destroyed hundreds of synagogues, used Jewish tombstones to line walkways to latrines, let the Kotelbecome a garbage dump and forbade Jews from living in the West Bank.

In 1964 an official movement for a “Palestinian” (i.e. Arab) state was formed, with creation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Three years later, when four Arab countries declared war onIsrael in 1967, there were no so-called “Jewish settlements” in the West Bank, putting to rest any illusion that the conflict has always been about settlements or occupation. The Arab nations’ stated aim was to destroy the Jewish State.

“While I agree that legally speaking, one cannot seize land from conquest, it’s not conquest if you already have sovereignty rights to the land,” Gauthier says of Israel’s takeover of the West Bank after the Six Day War.

Regarding final status agreements for land exchange in the region, Gauthier reminds us that“the precedents, treaties, and agreements must not be discarded or forgotten.”

Religious doctrine and political biases aside, these historical documents serve as incontrovertible proof that the Jews were the acknowledged recipients of the Land of Israel – not just by Hashem but also by ruling nations over time. Let us hold fast to our faith, fast to our mesorah, and fast to the certainty that our Jewish homeland should be and always will be ours.