A primer on the Balfour Declaration, the Arabs, the UN and peace
The greatest obstacle to peace is in the title of this article. As the centenary approaches, it is important to know the facts.
by David Singer
October 29, 2017
The continuing Arab refusal – aided and abetted by the United Nations - to recognise the international legitimacy of the Balfour Declaration 100 years after it was first issued on 2 November 1917 - remain the greatest obstacles to resolving the Jewish–Arab conflict.
The current Arab culprits are the Arab League, the PLO and Hamas who unconditionally reject the binding international legal validity of the Balfour Declaration. However their efforts to nullify the Balfour Declaration would have been undermined long ago had the United Nations not lent its support by propagating a fictitious narrative of the Jewish-Arab conflict.
United Nations involvement has occurred through the “Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat for, and under the guidance of, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” which has published “The Origins and Evolution of the Palestine Problem 1917-1988” containing numerous false and misleading facts on the Jewish-Arab conflict which remain uncorrected.
The Balfour Declaration – when issued - was merely a “declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations” having no binding legal effect - since “Palestine” was still then part of Turkey’s Ottoman Empire and had been so for the previous 400 years.
The Balfour Declaration first gained international endorsement following Turkey’s defeat in World War 1 when the Treaty of Sevres - concluding a truce with Turkey - was signed on 10 August 1920 by:
The British Empire, France, Italy and Japan (“The Principal Allied Powers”)
Armenia, Belgium, Greece, the Hedjaz, Poland, Portugal, Roumania, the Serb-Croat-Slovene State and Czechoslovakia (constituting with the Principal Allied Powers “the Allied Powers”) and Turkey
Article 95 of the Treaty provided for:
“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 The Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2, 1917, by the British Government, and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the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.”
This acceptance of the Balfour Declaration by the Allied Powers was subsequently embraced by all 51 member countries of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922 - when the terms of the Balfour Declaration were incorporated in the preamble to the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.
Those 51 countries were:
Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, British India, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Italy, Japan, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Persia, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of China, Romania, Siam, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Union of South Africa, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Venezuela
Article 25 of the Mandate was subsequently invoked on 23 September 1922 to restrict the Jewish National Home to just 22% of the territory encompassed by the Mandate - whilst the remaining 78% eventually became an Arabs-only, Jew-free State in 1946 - now called Jordan.
The Jews reluctantly accepted these decisions – but the Arabs never have. The Arabs (with the exception of Jordan and Egypt) still claim 100% of former Palestine by refusing to recognise the Jewish State.
Peace cannot occur until the UN demands Arab recognition of the Balfour Declaration. The UN’s continuing refusal to do so is truly shameful.
David Singer is an Australian lawyer who is active in Zionist community organizations in that country. He founded the 'Jordan is Palestine' Committee in 1979.