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Israeli human rights lawyer: Levy Report shows occupation is not temporary

The recent government-sanctioned Levy Report on settlement outposts unmasks the comfortable lie that Israeli government lawyers have told the courts and the rest of the world for decades, namely that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is temporary and measures designating Palestinian land and natural resources for Israeli use are motivated by security concerns.

By Sari Bashi

A segregated street in Hebron. Palestinian are allowed only on the left side (photo: activestills.org)

A segregated street in Hebron. Palestinian are allowed only on the left side (photo: activestills.org)

Last week, a committee appointed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to recommend disposition of about 100 Israeli outposts in the West Bank established in violation of Israeli military zoning laws released its conclusions (English summary here). The committee members, hand-picked by Netanyahu, were expected to recommend authorizing the outposts retroactively, and they did.  What was less expected were 11 double-spaced pages in the report that renounced the existence of a state of occupation in the West Bank.

To be sure, official declarations denying Israel’s occupation of the territory captured in 1967 are not new, but thus far, they have been limited to the Gaza Strip, as this spring’s Opinio Juris symposium highlighted. This latest report, the work of a committee headed by former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, is further reaching. Its recommendations have yet to be considered by the Israeli government.

The Levy Committee reverted to an old argument by the government, namely that the Fourth Geneva Convention’s rules on occupied territory do not apply in the West Bank and Gaza because they did not form part of the territory of a High Contracting Party, meaning a sovereign state, prior to being captured by Israel in 1967. However, it added a far-reaching and somewhat puzzling twist: the committee found that Israel is not an occupying power at all in the West Bank.

To quote the committee report (in my unofficial translation to English):

“The accepted term ‘occupation’, with the obligations attached to it, was intended to apply for short periods of occupation of a territory of a sovereign country, pending the conclusion of the dispute between the parties and the return of the territory or any other agreed-upon arrangement for its disposal. Yet the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria [the biblical name for the West Bank-SB] is substantially different: the seizure of the territory continues for decades, and no one can predict when it will end, if ever; the territory was captured from a state (the Kingdom of Jordan) whose sovereignty in the territory never attained a firm legal basis, and in the meantime it [Jordan-SB] has even given up on its claim to sovereignty; the State of Israel claims sovereign rights in the territory (page 6).”

In other words, the Levy Committee denies the application not just of the Fourth Geneva Convention, with its prohibition on transferring civilian populations into the occupied territory, but presumably also of the laws of belligerent occupation in their entirety, including the 1907 Hague Regulations (although at other parts of the report, the committee appears to rely on the Hague Regulations and their entrenchment of Ottoman and Jordanian law to justify compensating Palestinian land owners for land used by Jewish settlers, rather than returning the land). These regulations, by the way, limit the authority of an occupying power to protecting security and facilitating public life for residents of the occupied territory and therefore by implication – would also prohibit the establishment of settlements for the benefit of citizens of the occupying state.

While predictably, progressive jurists and many from the intellectual left inside Israel vilified the report (see this editorial by Israel’s respected Haaretz daily), others, myself included, appreciate the report’s revolutionary potential. Well, maybe revolutionary is too strong a word, but for those of us troubled by the transfer of 350,000 Jewish settlers into the West Bank (exclusive of east Jerusalem), the creation of separate and unequal systems of law, transportation and infrastructure for Palestinians and Israelis there and the de facto annexation of large swaths of the West Bank, the report unmasks the comfortable lie that Israeli government lawyers have told the courts and the rest of the world for decades, namely that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is temporary and that measures designating Palestinian land and natural resources for Israeli use are motivated by security concerns.

Here are some conclusions by the committee that I wholeheartedly endorse:

1. The so-called “unauthorized” outposts, built without the proper building permits and zoning plans, were as a matter of fact approved and funded by the State of Israel, which provided military protection, installed water and electricity lines, built access roads and funded public services for them.

2. There is little difference between “authorized” and “unauthorized” outputs and settlements. If some are legal under international law – all are legal under international law.  If some are illegal under international law – all are illegal under international law.

3. Israel’s presence in the West Bank is not a temporary belligerent occupation, pending an arrangement to evacuate the territory and restore it to its lawful sovereign, but rather is intended to further claims to Jewish sovereignty over the Biblical Land of Israel.

In the words of the Committee (again, unofficially translated):

Thus the legal status of the territory was restored to its original status, namely territory intended to serve as a national home for the Jewish people, which, during the period of Jordanian rule, constituted the party ‘holding the stronger claim’ that was absent from the territory for a number of years, due to a war that was forced upon it, and now has returned to it [emphasis in original-SB] (page 12).”

The Levy Committee justifies Israel’s claim to the West Bank by reference to the pre-state British Mandate which approved the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, without specifying its borders. To further the claims of Jewish settlers, the committee recommends streamlining bureaucratic obstacles to construction in the Jewish settlements, retroactively approving homes built without permits and relaxing restrictions on building on land claimed to be privately owned by Palestinians.

Without subscribing to the recommendations of the Levy Committee or its justification for Israel’s territorial claims to the West Bank, I enthusiastically endorse its candor. For decades, Israeli government lawyers have argued that the laws of belligerent occupation give the military commander in the West Bank broad authority to enact measures in the name of security – ignoring the obvious fact that the towns, factories, colleges and cultural centers serving Jewish settlers in the West Bank are not temporary installations erected to protect security but rather permanent settlements treated as part of Israel for most practical and legal purposes. The facade of temporariness has served as cover for Israel to claim the authority of a belligerent occupier, while in fact using West Bank land for the benefit of Israelis, without formally annexing it and without granting citizenship rights to its Palestinian inhabitants.

The Levy Committee tells it like it is. And in telling it like it is, it pushes Israelis to decide: Do we want to adopt the committee conclusions, which endorse exercising sovereignty over the West Bank while denying its 2.6 million Palestinians not just the rights of citizens but even the basic protections of the Fourth Geneva Convention? Or do we want to preserve Israel as a democratic state by ending four and half decades of control over 4 million Palestinians, in the West Bank and Gaza, who have a right to freedom from foreign rule?

Sari Bashi is Executive Director of Gisha, an Israeli human rights organization that protects the right to freedom of movement in the occupied Palestinian territories, focusing on Gaza. This article was originally published in Opinio Juris.

Related Articles:

Panel appointed by Netanyahu concludes: There is no occupation
Re-thinking the role of international law in the Middle East conflict
Report that claims ‘there is no occupation’ presents an opportunity
‘Nonexistent occupation’ memes go viral in social media

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    1. RichardL

      Typically excellent article Sari. Interesting to me, who knows no Hebrew, to see just how distorted Levy’s reasoning is. Interesting that a British promise, casually made in a desperate time of war to further the interests of the British Empire is now used to justify the expansion of another empire. Never mind that neither Britain nor the League of Nations never mentioned a Jewish state, and never mind that they forbade any prejudice of the rights of non-Jewish communities. The ongoing consequences of those mere 110 words are amazing to behold.

      Reply to Comment
      • Wallace Edward Brand

        Evidence of the intention of the settlors of a trust is the lodestar to its interpretation. There are two pieces of such evidence that are best. These are 1. An official British Foreign Office Memorandum of December 19, 1917, the month following the publication of the Balfour Declaration explaining the Balfour Declaration stating that the [collective] political rights to Palestine were to be placed in trust with Britain or the US as the trustee. Harry Sacher, who had written the first draft of the Balfour Declaration, in 1919 wrote a booklet published by the ZOA entitled “A Jewish Palestine: the Jewish case for a British trusteeship.” This showed various alternatives for getting to a Jewish Palestine including immediate statehood, but recommended the course that was take by the Allies; that was permitting immediate settlement by the Jews but deferring statehood until it became more practicable for the Jews to exercise it. A second piece of evidence was an excerpt from American Proposal of January 21, 1919 written by “The Inquiry” a group of about 150 academics formed at the request of Woodrow Wilson. In the Proposal dealing with Palestine, the proposal provided: It is recommended:
        1) That there be established a separate state of Palestine.
        2) That this state be placed under Great Britain as a mandatory of the League of Nations.
        3) That the Jews be invited to return to Palestine and settle there being assured by the Conference of an proper assistance in so doing that may be consistent with the protection of the personal (especially the religious) and the property rights of the non-Jewish population, and being further assured that it will be the policy of the League of Nations to recognise [sic] Palestine as a Jewish state as soon as it is a Jewish state in fact.
        See SSRN.com/abstract=2679399
        What RichardL says was a casually made British promise had been approved by the British war cabinet, approved by Wilson, explained in a British Foreign Office Memorandum in the following month, and restated by the American Proposal at the Paris Peace Talks in slightly different language but of the same import.
        A Third Piece is a memorandum of April, 1945 written by Chaim Weizmann to those in San Francisco drafting the UN Charter asking them to preserve what the Jewish People had received from the Palestine Mandate. The Balfour Declaration had been copied into the San Remo Resolution word for word and the Allied Principal War Powers agreed to adopt the British policy, turning it into international law. The trust they agreed to create was drafted under the supervision of Lord Curzon, no friend of the Jews, who said the Resolution at San Remo selecting the Jewish People as beneficiaries, implicitly rejected the Arab claim.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Kolumn9

      @RichardL, The British promise was enshrined by the San Remo conference of 1920, which itself served as the basis for the British Mandate of Palestine as approved by the League of Nations.

      You are also going to have redefine the word ’empire’ if you want to use it here. A country the size of Wales or New Jersey doesn’t qualify.

      Reply to Comment
    3. rose

      very good. unfortunately this levy report was mainly copied by a book of howard grief, that has, to say the least, a totally biased and colonialistic approach. thankfully i believe in reincarnation: if not in this life they will pay a price in the next one

      Reply to Comment
    4. max

      The Levy report is a legal interpretation of international law, as are several others that contradict its conclusions.
      Is anybody writing and commenting on this site claiming to understand enough in this area to criticize these – or the contradicting – conclusions?
      The only relevant issue is what will the political establishment do with this, and that’s where a discussion could make sense

      Reply to Comment
    5. paul

      Yes Max,
      I claim “to understand enough in this area to criticize these”. Plus, I believe to be less biased and less involved in the issue than Netanyahu’s appointed judge

      Reply to Comment
    6. max

      @Paul, and you may well be: would it be the first time that a legal issue has more than one interpretation and each side is well convinced of her/his view? How often does any High Court conclude unanimously?
      As one who understands enough, I’m sure you’re aware of what ‘the law’ is supposed to achieve – and what it isn’t meant to address.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Hicks

      If the Holy Land of Israel was meant for supremicist Jews, as God Promised, then when will Jews return Manhatten to Native Americans??
      Didn’t their God promise New York to the Mohawks?

      Reply to Comment
    8. zayzafuna

      Comment deleted and user banned

      Reply to Comment
    9. Israel declared its existence through the explicit aid of the United Nations, asking to be so recognized, and it was. It’s boarders are, in my view, defined by the UN resoultion it embraced in its Declaration of Independence, which doesn’t mean those borders cannot be changed.
      Nations fight for territory, not so much now–perhaps Israel is an aberation into what used to be. I find the Biblical warrant for Judea and Samaria to be an extreme regression of human thought, but that does not matter.
      If Israel acts as soverign over all the West Bank, which seems inevitable, it will come to fight itself over what it shall be; this seems the next step in this slow burn history. Give them what they want, and let them howl later. The presumption behind the Levy report is that legal standing within Israel can always be contained when it comes to the Bank. I think this untrue. A three tiered population comes: Jewish Israeli citizens, Arab Israeli citizens born behind the green line, Palestinian non citizen residents in the Bank. The PA is just a little more than a bantu authority. I believe the legal structure unstable, its first weak point being Arab Israeli citizens born behind the green line. How things will go, I do not know; but the present structure will fall without outside prompts. As Sari Bashi says, moving toward full realization of the structure to begin its consequences is all to the good.
      I see no other path.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Sari

      The Levy Report opens up another intriguing possibility for Israel – other than having to decide whether to exercise sovereignty in all of the West Bank.

      That alternative is:
      1. the termination of any further negotiations under the Oslo Accords as a result of the PLO’s continuing refusal to resume those negotiations accompanied by
      2. a call for direct negotiations between Israel and Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine to allocate sovereignty of the West Bank between their respective states so as to restore as far as is now possible – given the lapse of 45 years and new facts on the ground – the status quo ante existing between them prior to the Six Day War in 1967.

      Whilst Jordan renounced all claims to the West Bank in 1988 it would surely be open to Israel to now invite Jordan to come and sit down and negotiate.

      The Israel-Jordan peace treaty already contains provisions outlining the negotiating parameters to resolve contentious issues such as refugees, water and Jerusalem.

      Reunifying parts of the West Bank with Jordan as existed for 19 years from 1948-1967 could be the successful outcome.

      Should Jordan refuse to come to the negotiating table or the negotiations end up inconclusively like those between Israel and the PLO – then Israel might well face having to make the decision to unilaterally extend its sovereignty into all or part of the West Bank.

      That moment has not quite yet arrived.

      Reply to Comment
    11. mamzerek

      judea and samaria are liberated lands not occupied, especially after jordan relinquished any claim on the region west of jordan river.

      allahu akbar!

      Reply to Comment
    12. berl

      so when you plan to liberate the coastal plan between ashdod and ashkelon, that was never ever “israelite”?
      keep your selective ideological interpretations for you and your fellow-settlers. thanks

      Reply to Comment
    13. RichardL

      Kolumn 9 I know the history of the British Mandate for Palestine. that’s why I referred to the League of Nations.
      On your second contention:Who gave you the right to define “empire”?
      COD includes “2a supreme dominion b (often foll. by ‘over’) ‘archaic’ absolute control”.
      That suits my meaning fine, without even the hint of a reference to size. Go jump in the lake.

      Reply to Comment
    14. RichardL

      Max: I am not a lawyer, but I know a scam when I see one. I have also read the British Mandate for Palestine (in “Documents on Palestine Vol 1”) and I can attest that Sari is correct when she says that there is no mention of boundaries in that document, neither is there mention of any Jewish state. Unlike you, apparently, I think it is totally relevant that Levy is writing balderdash. It is up to you to show the irrelevance of this self-serving nonsense in the current state of affairs.

      Reply to Comment
      • Wallace Brand

        I am a lawyer. My own research into the facts and law are that the WWI Allies on April 25, 1920, recognized the political rights of the Jews to Palestine in the Mandate they approved. It was in essence a trust agreement, holding the political rights in trust for their beneficial owners, World Jewry, until the Jews had attained population majority in Palestine when legal dominion in these political rights, i.e. sovereignty was intended to vest in the Jews. This was done to answer opponents of the Balfour policy who charged that giving sovereignty to a small ethnic minority would be antidemocratic. The British Foreign Office responded with a memo on September 19, 1920 saying while the argument was good in concept, as to the Balfour policy it was “imaginary” as the political rights were to be placed in trust with England or the US to be the trustee. After the war, this interpretation was confirmed by General Bols, Winston Churchill, and David Lloyd-George among others.

        Reply to Comment
    15. max

      @Richardl, I have no idea what text you’re attributing to me… can you quote and refer to, or can you only fabricate?
      Let it be a “national home for the Jewish people” and not call it the State of Israel but The Jewish Home, with _civil_ and religious (but not National) rights for all others – does it make a difference, Mr. non-lawyer?

      Reply to Comment
    16. david singer


      I don’t think you know very much about the Balfour Declaration or the Mandate when you state:

      “..neither Britain nor the League of Nations never mentioned a Jewish state”

      No mention of a Jewish state in the Balfour Declaration – which was incorporated into the Mandate? Really? Where did you get your information from?

      Have you read the 1937 Peel Commission Report which stated the following:

      “We must now consider what the Balfour Declaration meant. We have been permitted to examine the records which bear upon the question and it is clear to us that the words ” the establishment in Palestine of a National Home ” were the outcome of a compromise between those Ministers who contemplated the ultimate establishment of a Jewish State and those who did not.

      It is obvious in any case that His Majesty’s Government could not commit itself to the establishment of a Jewish State. It couId only undertake to facilitate the growth
      of a Home. It would depend mainly on the zeal and enterprise of the Jews whether the Home would grow big enough to become a State.

      Mr. Lloyd George, who was Prime Minister at the time, informed us in evidence that: –
      ” The idea was, and this was the interpretation put upon it at the time, that a Jewish State was not to be set up immediately by the Peace Treaty without reference to the wishes of the majority of the inhabitants. On the other hand, it was contemplated that when the time arrived for according representative institutions to Palestine, if the Jews had meanwhile responded to the opportunity afforded them by the idea of a national home and had become a definite majority of the inhabitants, then PaIestine would thus become a Jewish Commonwealth.”

      Thus His Majesty’s Government evidently realized that a Jewish State might in course of time be established, but it was not in a position to say that this would happen, still less to bring it about of its own motion.

      The Zionist leaders, for their part,recognised that an ultimate Jewish State was not precluded by the terms of the Declaration, and so it was understood elsewhere.

      ” I am persuaded” said President Wilson on the 3rd March,1919,”that the Allied nations, with the fullest concurrence of our own Government and people, are agreed that in Palestine shall
      be laid the foundations of a Jewish Commonwealth “.

      Be sure of your facts before you lecture to the readers.

      The Levy Report has properly identified the Jewish people’s title deeds – the Mandate and article 80 of the UN Charter – to legally justify the right of Jews to settle in the West Bank for the purpose of reconstituting the Jewish National Home.

      In contrast the International Court rode roughshod over the Mandate and article 80 in the 2004 case concerning the security barrier by failing to even consider them.

      Not surprising since UN Secretary General Kofi Annan somehow overlooked bringing them to the Court’s attention.

      The Levy Report has gone a long way to rectifying what could possibly amount to trying to pervert the course of justice – in the absence of Mr Annan satisfactorily explaining why this occurred.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Kolumn9

      RichardL, if you knew the history of the British mandate you wouldn’t make the silly arguments you make. Also, by your definition my apartment can be defined as an empire. Go drink the sea in Gaza.

      Reply to Comment
    18. RichardL

      David Singer: “Dear Lord Rothchild, I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to and approved by the Cabinet. ‘His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that no-thing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or in any other country’. I should be grateful if you would bring the declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.”
      Every punctuation mark in that Declaration was very carefully considered and the those 110 words meant what they said and nothing else. You can quote who you like but there is absolutely nothing in the Declaration about a Jewish state. Wherever you get your crazy, erroneous ideas from is no concern of mine.

      Reply to Comment
    19. david singer


      My “crazy erroneous ideas” come from the sworn evidence given by Lloyd George – the Prime Minister at the time of the Balfour Declaration – to the Royal Commission on Palestine in 1937.

      Somehow I place far more credence on that evidence than your fatuous statement.

      Reply to Comment
    20. RichardL

      @David Singer. Your question again: “No mention of a Jewish state in the Balfour Declaration – which was incorporated into the Mandate? Really? Where did you get your information from?”
      You show me where it says anything about a state in the Balfour Declaration; you have failed to do so ’til now. Because it does not say what you want it to (despite the fact that it was damaging enough) does not mean that you should re-write it; it means you should re-think your opinions.
      “It is obvious in any case that His Majesty’s Government could not commit itself to the establishment of a Jewish State.”
      Those are your own words confirming my position.
      “a Jewish State was not to be set up immediately by the Peace Treaty without reference to the wishes of the majority of the inhabitants”. There is merely an implication here that perhaps Lloyd George might consider a state later on. But only a damn fool would trust Lloyd George. The Arabs did so to their cost. Then he very nearly did a deal for a separate peace with the Ottoman Empire which would have scuppered Balfour. Later still Lloyd George and Clemenceau nearly came to blows at Paris over the former’s attempt to renege on the Sykes-Picot agreement which itself was a breach of faith to the Arabs. It might suit your purpose to believe the word of Lloyd George (in sworn evidence or otherwise) but his actions show him to be treacherous and untrustworthy. Remember he left office in disgrace over a corruption scandal amongst other misdemeanors. As to the wishes of the majority of the inhabitants, we know from the King-Crane Commission what those were. Of course you fail to mention that Peel was followed by Woodhead and then MacDonald, as perfidious Albion did a U-turn to suit its immediate interests. If Levy had fairly used history he might have considered the MacDonald White Paper which stated that the promise of the Balfour Declaration had been met and went on to propose an independent Palestine governed by Arabs and Jews.
      But instead you lead me a merry dance around a host of irrelevant persons that have nothing to do with my assertion. Neither Great Britain nor the League of Nations ever officially referred to a Jewish state, despite what any individual may or may not have privately thought about it. The Declaration merely looked with favour on the establishment of a national home, whose location and size were deliberately not defined, in Palestine. Come back from out of the looking glass and face the real world.

      Reply to Comment
    21. david singer


      The Balfour Declaration was incorporated into the Mandate for Palestine. Before then it was only a statement of intention by the British Government.The words you quote are not my words. They are the words of the Royal Commission. They were spot on.

      Your persistent attempts to look at the Balfour Declaration in isolation from the Mandate is therefore a waste of time.

      Its meaning became very important for the Royal Commission to determine when considering the Mandate document as a whole.

      The Royal Commission Report (1937)says it all in chapter and verse.

      Perhaps if you read it you will come to understand that the reconstitution of the Jewish National Home in Palestine was a binding international obligation on Great Britain under the Mandate.

      By the way there were Mandates created for Syria and Lebanon and Mesopotamia that were earmarked for self determination for the Arabs and led to the eventual creation of three sovereign independent states.

      No political rights were to be given to the Arabs living in Palestine – and with good reason – because the expression of the Arab political right to self-determination was to be enabled within the vast territory covered by Mandates for Syria,Lebanon and Mesopotamia.

      However the civil and religious rights of the non-Jewish communities in Palestine were to be preserved.

      That was not good enough for the Arabs and their failure to accept this generous partition of the captured Ottoman territories to allow both Arab and Jewish self-determination to take place has been the cause of their grief ever since.

      How much of the pie can you eat before you get indigestion and eventually die of a bloated stomach?

      do you bel

      Reply to Comment
    22. RichardL

      This is like Jeremy Paxman interviewing Michael Howard; or George Galloway’s humiliation by David Henshaw. I will ask you yet again: where in the Balfour Declaration, or the Palestine Mandate if you prefer, is there mention of a Jewish state? That was you first objection to my post and you have still not backed it up or answered the question. Both documents refer to a national home for the Jews. Neither of them ever mentions a Jewish state, intentionally so. Neither of them defines where or how big the national home will be but they both say “in Palestine” inferring that it should not comprise the whole of the Palestine Mandate.
      The first mention by a British official of a Jewish state is in the Peel Commission in 1937. (And obviously this is why you are so keen on this commission.) That recommendation, (and it was NEVER more than a recommendation by a Royal Commission) was rejected unanimously the following year by the Woodhead Commission which was set up to explore the practical application of partition. As a result the British government considered Peel’s proposals to be impracticable and openly said so in MacDonald White Paper of 1939. I notice you carefully avoid any mention of this policy paper which states unambiguously
      “His Majesty’s Government believe that the framers of the Mandate in which the Balfour Declaration was embodied could not have intended that Palestine should be converted into a Jewish State against the will of the Arab population of the country. That Palestine was not to be converted into a Jewish State might be held to be implied in the passage from the Command Paper of 1922…”. This official statement of British policy goes on to propose an independent state of Palestine in which Arabs and Jews should share authority in government. Read it yourself: http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/EB5B88C94ABA2AE585256D0B00555536
      Hence your implication that the Arabs were offered a “generous partition” by the British government if wishful thinking. No such offer was made because the British Government considered it “impracticable”. Incidentally the cause of the Arab’s grief has been Zionist expansionism, whose continuation has been provided for by Levy, which is where we came in.

      Reply to Comment
    23. david singer


      1. You are readily prepared to infer what the words “in Palestine” mean – but apparently not prepared to accept a Prime Minister telling a Royal Commission in sworn evidence what the words “Jewish National Home” meant.

      Aren’t you adopting a blatant case of double standards?

      2. Let me help you out of your misery a little bit.

      Winston Churchill in his June 1922 White Paper said exactly the same thing as you parroted about the meaning of the words “in Palestine”. But he said it at precisely the same time as the Mandate was going to the League of Nations to approve. That version of the Mandate contained Clause 25 -“the Transjordan clause” – by which Churchill managed to extinguish Jewish rights in 78% of the Mandate territory thereby halting the advance of Abdullah towards Syria to help his embattled brother Feisal in his struggle with the French.

      What easier way to do this than to say “When I used the words “in Palestine” I didn’t mean “all of Palestine”.

      It worked brilliantly.

      The French were happy, Feisal was kicked out of Syria and into Iraq and a six month stay for Abdullah ruling Transjordan turned into a 90 years rule by the Hashemites until today.

      Yes – that is history but the Arabs ended up with 78% of Mandatory Palestine by one nifty verbal sidestep from Winston Churchill.

      Even worse – the fact that the Arabs already have a sovereign State in 78% of mandatory Palestine now called “Jordan” is completely overlooked as attempts are being made to create a second Arab state in Mandatory Palestine in the area known as “the West Bank and Gaza”

      3. The 1939 paper was a Government White paper – not a Royal Commission. The political pressures on the Government from both Arabs and Jews led to the political views it chose to adopt in a decision that was to cost the lives of millions of Jews who were denied the right to flee the Nazi killing machine and escape to the safety of Palestine.

      What “His majesty’s Government believes” in the political heat of the 1 May 1939 kitchen must be weighed up against what an independent Royal Commission found after an exhaustive inquiry two years earlier.

      The failure to implement the considered and reasoned 1937 Royal Commission – because of Arab rejection – has brought the Arabs nothing but grief ever since.

      The 1939 Government White Paper and the fortunes of the then Government that wrote it have ended up in the dustbin of history.

      The Woodhead Commission also got it wrong when deciding partition was impracticable – and the 1937 Royal Commission Report was ultimately vindicated – when the “Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan” became independent in 1946 and Israel declared its independence in 1948.

      Now all that is left is for these two successor states to the Mandate for Palestine to allocate sovereignty of the West Bank between their respective states in direct negotiations. This should now be the real focus of everyone’s attention. Until it is – the killing and bloodshed are bound to continue.

      A copy of the 1939 White Paper 2d. The 1937 Royal Commission Report cost 6s 6d. Spending 2d on a copy of the 1939 White Paper was indeed a waste of money – unless it was going to be used to wrap up fish and chips.

      The 1937 Royal report remains compulsory reading for anyone trying to understand the conflict between Jews and Arabs in 2012.

      I rest my case.

      Reply to Comment
    24. RichardL

      David Singer: (I missed your post hence the delay in replying; apologies.)
      Your correspondence began rhetorically: “No mention of a Jewish state in the Balfour Declaration – which was incorporated into the Mandate? Really? Where did you get your information from?” Yet despite repeated requests from me you can find no such statement concerning a Jewish state in either the Declaration or the Mandate, yes or no?
      If the Balfour Declaration had meant “Palestine” it would have said so. It was not drawn up on a Sunday afternoon by Arthur Balfour, it was carefully considered by the cabinet over four months and there were at least four drafts. It was deliberately vague and deliberately did not allocate the whole of Palestine to the Jewish home as the Zionist draft of July 1917 sought. Hence Winston Churchill was entitled to act as he did since Article (not clause) 25 stated that “the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable…”. Incidentally the consent of the Council was sought and obtained, as required under Article 27. (But all credit to you for being aware that the Mandate document does not end at Article 5 as many Zionists like to imply.)
      Margaret Thatcher once said that advisers advise but Ministers decide. Such was the case with the Peel Commission which had no authority beyond its function as an ad-hoc formal public inquiry. Governments decide policy and in Britain this is set out in a white paper, as with that of MacDonald in 1939.
      You unfairly blame the British Government for the death of millions of Jews. Many would in fact have gone to the United States if they had been granted visas. At the Evian Conference in 1938 only the Dominican Republic out of 32 nations agreed to accept additional refugees. Britain was correct to exclude further immigration to Palestine in accord with its Mandate, but wrong to deny further entry to Jewish refugees in Britain.
      You are getting mixed up over Woodhead. It was considering the equity and practicability of the partition of Palestine (which as you have already acknowledged had not included Trans-Jordan since 1923). Its four members unanimously rejected Peel’s proposal because “they are unable to recommend boundaries for the proposed areas which will afford a reasonable prospect of the eventual establishment of self-supporting Arab and Jewish States”. Having considered their report the British government had little option but to reject Peel’s proposal. What happened in 1946 and 1948 does not invalidate Woodhead which was considering a different scenario to the one you imply.
      You put too much emphasis on the Peel Commission. It is what governments do and say that defines history. For all Levy’s subterfuge it is ultimately the government of Israel that will take responsibility for what happens next.

      Reply to Comment
    25. david singer


      1. I have given you chapter and verse from the Royal Commission as to what the words “Jewish National Home” meant and that they did not preclude the creation of a state.

      You continue to reject that meaning.

      One can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

      2. I have made it clear that the Jews reluctantly accepted Churchill’s interpretation that the word “in” did not mean “in all” – and that on that basis – article 25 of the Mandate was inserted – which eventually led to the independent Arab state of Transjordan being established in 1946 in 78% of the Mandate territory.

      3. You state:

      “Britain was correct to exclude further immigration to Palestine in accord with its Mandate, but wrong to deny further entry to Jewish refugees in Britain.”

      What is the basis for your claim – since Article 27 of the Mandate provided that the consent of the Council of the League of Nations was required for any modification of the terms of the Mandate.

      Under article 6 Jewish immigration was to be facilitated and close settlement was to be encouraged – not restricted.

      The Government took the view for the first time in 1939 that political factors should be taken into consideration to restrict Jewish immigration – with economic issues no longer being the sole determinant.

      That economic policy had been supported by resolutions of the Permanent Mandates Commission since 1931.

      The Government was entitled to change its mind – but doing so required consent of the League Council The policy was implemented without such consent being obtained. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were denied the opportunity to reach Palestine.

      So how do you justify your above statement that the policy to exclude immigration was correct?

      4. You further state:
      “You are getting mixed up over Woodhead. It was considering the equity and practicability of the partition of Palestine (which as you have already acknowledged had not included Trans-Jordan since 1923).”

      I never acknowledged that Palestine had not included Transjordan since 1923.

      Please point out where you claim I said that.

      Transjordan remained part of the Mandate for Palestine until its independence was granted by Great Britain in 1946. Only the provisions of the Mandate relating to the Jewish Home were postponed or withheld from 1923.

      Indeed this is made clear in the following recommendation of the Peel commission:

      “Treaties of alliance should be negotiated by the Mandatory with the Government of Trans-Jordan and representatives of the Arabs of Palestine on the one hand and with the Zionist Organisation on the other. These Treaties would declare that, within as short a period as may be convenient, two sovereign independent States would be established–the one an Arab State consisting of Trans-Jordan united with that part of Palestine which lies to the east and south of a frontier such as we suggest in Section 3 below; the other a Jewish State consisting of that part of Palestine which lies to the north and west of that frontier.”

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    26. david singer

      Can you please explain why you have deleted a number of posts by myself and RichardL after 26 July that were previously available for viewing?

      Reply to Comment
    27. Wallace Edward Brand

      Israel should acknowledge that the 1920 San Remo Agreement by the WWI Allies, adopting the Balfour policy, recognized the exclusive political rights to Palestine in World Jewry. However the rights were delivered to England, as Trustee because at the time the Jews had only about 10% of the population of all of Palestine. England was to have legal dominion over the trust res, namely exclusive political rights to Palestine, until such time as the Jews attained a population majority and were otherwise capable to exercising sovereignty over a state just as any other modern European nation state. It answered the complaints of opponents saying that the recognition would be anti-democratic by saying the the trustee would have legal dominion of the rights and exercise sovereignty until such time as the Jews attained a population majority and were otherwise ready to assume the responsibility for exercising sovereignty.
      Israel attained a population majority in 1950 and by now it has an 80% majority.

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    28. Judea and Samaria is Jewish territory – No annexation is required

      Let me pose an interesting scenario. If you had a country and it was conquered by foreign powers over a period of time. After many years you have taken back you country and land in various defensive wars. Do you have to officially annex those territories. It was always your territory and by retaking control and possession of your territory it is again your original property and there is no need to annex it. The title to your property is valid today as it was many years before.
      Annexation only applies when you are taking over territory that was never yours to begin with, just like some European countries annexed territories of other countries.

      YJ Draiman

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